Katie Zautke

FOUNDER / OWNER / DESIGNER - WESTWARD WANDERING CO.

Hi! I'm Katie! I am the founder and designer of Westward Wandering Co. in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I have a background in graphic design and have always had a passion for hustling side projects outside of my real world design job. At the moment, I am a super passionate about learning everything digital marketing, elevating my Westward Wandering brand to the next level, and am a little too obsessed with lists!

What are you best known for?

I am probably best known for my creativity (real original), but more specifically, all the ideas I share with anyone who will listen. I like to observe other brands, their processes and strategies, and bring those ideas back to projects currently at hand. My friend once made a "Katie's Idea Folder" because I would send so many thoughts and inspo to her so often ha! Outside of work, I am best known for being quiet and shy, although will speak up when I truly agree or disagree with something. I am a true introvert, but I like it that way :)

What or who has influenced your design aesthetic the most?

Many of the big hyperlocal clothing brands (Wish You Were Northwest and Keep It Wild) have inspired me the most. I wanted to bring the same vibe they were offering to their areas to the Black Hills because when I started this company back in 2015, there weren't any hyperlocal clothing brands out here. I wanted to connect with a younger generation and show off more than just the tourist spots in the Black Hills. I wanted to represent the lifestyle.

What inspired you to become a designer?

I was always good at design. I was better at drawing in middle school than I am now (sadly). I wish we, as a society, never lost that creativity as we got older and although I've stayed in the creative field, I definitely lost some of those skill sets I had when I was younger. The real motivation came when I was in elementary school, and my rainbow drawing submission for the Reflections Art Contest went from the local to state to the national round. It was a big deal for me. It validated that I really was good at art, and it wasn't just my mom who agreed. Then, in college, as I was taking a chemistry class, I realized that I truly hated how difficult that class was (even though I loved chemistry - it was a love/hate relationship) and decided that life didn't have to be that hard. I switched to a design major and never looked back. And guess what, life IS fun :)