Kathryn Kolaczek, the owner of Alchemy Communications Inc., is a successful business owner, a serial entrepreneur, a prosperous PR maven, and a single mom to boot. Achieving prominence in just one area could be considered quite an accomplishment but in four? That’s something special.
We wanted to get the inside scoop, so you can learn from one of the best in the business, and apply her knowledge of entrepreneurial success to your business to create a bigger impact.
Tell us a little bit about Alchemy and what makes you different and really remarkable in your niche.
We’re a public relations company, but we do some marketing as well. So, what we’re really known for is our PR work that includes working with the media, that’s both traditional and digital, as well as government relations, crisis communications, general messaging to the public. That obviously quite overlaps quite with marketing. So we do a lot of social media messaging, corporate communications, external, internal, that kind of thing. And we also do a lot of events for clients that are looking to get into a small but valuable group of people.
What we talk about is creating conversations in communities that matter to our client.
What do you feel is the key to your success?
Challenges are what I thrive on. I think it’s really important to be flexible enough to be able to pivot when you need to, to be able to see an opportunity and leverage your skills to access that opportunity. I’ve learned to be data driven, and I try to be data-driven in every category of my business so that I can measure our success on a regular basis against our goals.
I know that as an entrepreneur, and a single mom, life moves too fast to recognize when you’ve got some mission drift, or you’ve overspent on a certain budget. I personally need those KPIs laid out very clearly, and I need to have everybody measuring them, and reporting back on them so that we don’t get too far adrift.
The best entrepreneurs are the ones that are able to survive the ups and downs, but also plan for it, and recognize that success. I’m going to steal this from Winston Churchill. I wish I said this, but it was Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, and failure is not fatal.”
What’s been your biggest obstacle?
My biggest obstacle has always been around finding balance. Especially, as you get married and you have kids, life doesn’t always come out the way that the brochure said it would.
I am very passionate about my work. It’s easy for me to hide in my work. When you look at the statistics around entrepreneurs and successful marriages it’s sometimes a little bit grim, and I can see why. My marriage didn’t make it.
When you are an entrepreneur, you have to give 150% to your business. When you’re a mom, there’s no choice, you have to give 150% to your kids. And I’m obviously not good at math, there is nothing left. In fact, we’ve overspent. That’s something I have to remind myself to keep working on.
The first Rocky movie is the theme song of my life. I feel like I can take a beating over and over and over and over again, and I can still get back up and say, “Okay, tomorrow’s a new day. Let’s start again.”
And I feel like I’ve had a few of those beatings. I’ve had a lot of those beatings. But there are lots of wins in there too. And I think the key to being an entrepreneur is getting back up. You just get back up. Go the distance.
My grandparents were both immigrants from Eastern Europe after World War II. And my grandfather lived in a POW camp for five years, and my grandmother fought with the Estonian resistance and then was a Red Cross nurse and had all these crazy stories of surviving that war and what they did to survive. I hate to keep making being an entrepreneur sound so hard, but it is. It is really hard, and I think you have to be resilient. And on my tough days I think, “Well, I’m not in a POW camp. I don’t have people shooting at me.”
I come from pretty tough stuff and that’s why I’m resilient, and I’m hoping that I’m teaching my kids that from example.
You don’t give up. And you don’t walk away. You don’t quit. You can pivot, and that’s different, but you don’t give up.
What are the big goals coming up?
I do have big plans for Alchemy. We’re on a growth phase; we doubled in size last year. I’d like to double in size this coming year again. Right now it’s really important for me to be sustainable. I’m a single mom now, and I have to build something that takes care of me and my kids, and I think I’ve done that. I’ve certainly built the foundation for it, and I’m really excited about the future of it.