Originally published in the fall 2014 issue of VISIONS
Written by Carole Gieseke. Photo by Jim Heemstra.
When Kate Arends (’06 graphic design) first learned that she had topped 1 million followers on Pinterest, she couldn’t believe it.
Her blog, Wit & Delight, had begun in 2009 and slowly built a following. Then, as an early adopter of Pinterest, she branched out.
“Out of the top hundred [Pinterest] pinners, there are a handful of us who are bloggers as well, so that’s been really powerful because we exist on multiple platforms instead of just one,” Arends said. “If you love Wit & Delight on Pinterest you can then discover the blog and then discover the Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter accounts.”
Arends now has more than 2.6 million followers on Pinterest – a feat that has not gone unnoticed. Her unique passion for art, fashion, and culture has been featured in the New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily, Lucky Magazine, The Inside Source (eBay’s digital shopping style magazine), Elle Decor, Mashable, the Glitter Guide, and The Everygirl. She was recently profiled in the July/August 2014 issue of Martha Stewart Living.
When she launched her online presence, Arends said, “I found the things that I gravitate toward he most always had an element of beauty, and there was always an element of humor in it. Those two things equaled a really interesting point of view; not a lot of people were looking at the world from that angle.”
A former communications and digital media director for The Daft Group and graphic designer for Cue, Inc., Arends is now running the Wit & Delight Studio full-time from her home in Minneapolis. And her brand is about to take another big leap: Last February, Target announced that Arends and two other top Pinterest tastemakers would have party collections featured in stores nationwide.
According to Pinterest, there are more than 700,000 party-planning-related items “pinned” on its boards every day. The Wit & Delight party collection – in stores this fall – provides everything you’d need for a beer-tasting party. Arends said the collection was inspired by artisan food and craft beer.
With her influence on her followers – mostly 25- to 40-year-old urban-dwelling females – Arends is
approached every day by companies pushing the latest décor, jewelry, footwear, and clothing.
“Someone like J. Crew will approach me and they’ll say, ‘We’ll pay you a fee for creating the photography, writing, and doing your thing with our product and sharing it,’” she said. “I’m very, very choosy as to whom I accept sponsorships from. I say no to 80 percent of inquiries. But you get to put your creative stamp on it, and I think people appreciate the effort that goes into that.”
Arends admits her life isn’t as glamorous as it may come across online. Her husband, Joe Peters, has his own Twitter account (“Wit in Real Life”) that shows the behind-the-scenes life of a style maven.
“He tweets about the mess I leave behind trying to Instagram a waffle,” she says.