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Kat Convos: Helen Brooks & Katie Drake

It all started over a round of dirty martinis with bleu cheese olives and blossomed into a friendship I hold near and dear to my heart (as well as the hangover I had the following morning). Meet Helen and Katie, the dynamic duo behind GATHER, a digital platform home to travel-inspired stories. I recently sat down with these lovely ladies and got the inside scoop on all things GATHER. Read the full interview below and make sure to check out their site for all of you serial wanderlust-ers.

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GATHER goes to Cali

How did the idea of GATHER come about?

Well the actual name came about from a dream if you can believe it! The literal definition of “gather” is “to choose and collect; to get from different people or places and bring together; to bring into a group.” Depending on how much stock you put into the spiritual, it was a pretty perfect name that came from some kind of subconscious source!

We started traveling, exchanging stories and bringing home local gifts that we knew the other would appreciate. This exchange started to become a little ritual that evolved into throwing “Gatherings” inspired by our travels (i.e. a Maine lobster feast, Charleston southern brunch or Napa wine tasting). Once we started to see how fun it was to share our travels with one another, we knew we really had something.

Each time we’d go to research a trip, we had trouble accessing the kind of info we were looking for; we wanted to dig into the story of a place, to understand not necessarily the newest, undiscovered cool thing to do, but the kind of experiences that make you feel happy to be alive! There wasn’t a 360 travel lifecycle resource that covered what to pack and what to read to where to eat and which experiences to seek out. The clincher came when we wanted to celebrate both home and away in equal measure; neither of us are gypsy wanderers – we love us some comforts of home – so we wanted to elevate how wonderfully life changing travel can be, and also, how you can find plenty of cause for celebration in your everyday life.

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Images: @gather_mag

It’s so great when you can work with your best friend. How did you two meet?

Katie: It really is one of the greatest things about Gather that I get to work with Helen every day! The entrepreneurial journey brings with it so many ups and downs, so many triumphs and disappointments – so many general emotions – I can’t imagine not having her to share it all with. We met on the sidelines at our fiancés’ (now husbands’ ) flag football games. That tells you everything to know about both them and us! Oh and we still cheer them on by the way…

Helen: We always laugh when someone asks us this question, because it’s not a very glamorous meeting place, plus it makes us chuckle just thinking about our husbands. We struck up a conversation and quickly realized we were cut from the same cloth. We were both getting married within a month and had very similar attitudes in terms of our approach and general thinking about our weddings. Weddings can be very revealing and I think we both recognized one another’s values in talking about our own feelings and plans around our weddings. That day, I could have continued talking with Katie for at least 4 more hours (without wine!) and that’s how you know you’ve found a true friend. I knew from the first time we met that we would be friends for life. And I have only had that happen once or twice. I’m happy to report that 6 years later, we still sit on the sidelines, only now we’re wise enough to bring wine and cheese, and most importantly, our puppies, Louis and Brady.

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Moms & their pups

I love your logo and slogan “Collect. Curate. Celebrate.” Can you explain how you came up with this and what it means to GATHER readers?

Thank you! “Collect. Curate. Celebrate” are the three lenses through which we approach our subjects, and they really represent the full “based in place” home and away point of view. COLLECT represents our adventures out in the world – our city guides, daytripping jaunts and essential moments; CURATE represents our closer look at people, places and things in our Local Gem interviews, Packing & Beauty product shoots, Get To Know, Local Find products, and travel-inspired home decor; and CELEBRATE is our way of bringing the spirit of a destination into our lives in a festive way through gathering ideas and food and drink recipes inspired by environments, restaurants and bars we loved during our travels.

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The many adventures of Helen & Katie

When it comes to content, how do you ladies split up the workload? Both the writing and the imagery on your site is exceptional. 

Katie: We have a pretty fantastic setup – Helen takes the photos and designs the layouts; I write and edit the features. This is fun when we’re “in the field” because we’re processing our experiences in the ways that come most naturally to us. It makes for a really fun, collaborative process when we come home.

Helen: Katie is the writer and editor and I am the photographer. Those spheres are totally different skill sets but they have to come together and be integrated in order to produce a cohesive finished product. Our creative process came to be pretty organically, and by each of us bringing our own set of strengths to the table. It’s so important when you’re part of a start-up to both feel confident to take risks and go out on a limb, but also to feel safe to be vulnerable and admit when you need help or don’t feel 100% confident in something. It’s the only way to grow and push yourself.

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GATHER x Calypso St. Barth

So far, what has been your favorite place to visit and feature on the website?

Katie: That’s tough because each destination we visit really claims a piece of hearts. Charleston is dear to us because it’s the first place we “Gather-ed” and it exceeded our expectations in every possible way. It is this perfect blend of history and innovation, landmark beauty and southern charm – not to mention, ridiculous food – it’s really special.

Helen: It was such a refreshing experience and I really felt changed after our visit. There’s something about the Southern way of life, the kindness of the people and the reverence for the things I appreciate deeply.

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GATHER goes to Charleston

Where to next?

New Orleans!

What are 3 essentials you bring on every GATHER getaway:

Katie: Bose noise-canceling earbuds, an iPhone loaded with Google maps, Apple Music playlists, podcasts and Notes (seriously cannot survive without these), a silk sleep mask

Helen: Canon EF 50mm lens, comfy shoes, and Drybar Dry Shampoo

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Images: @gather_mag

As your own #girlbosses, do you have any advice for female entrepreneurs who want to break into the digital world?

Helen: Always stay connected to the reasons you got started in the first place. You can’t compromise your values or try to make your brand be all things for all people – don’t ever apologize for that.

Katie: Commit to quality, and to your own brand of authentic storytelling. As tempting as it is to measure yourself against what is already out there, you’ll never regret nurturing your own brand and watching it grow.

GATHER goes to Sydney

GATHER goes to Sydney

Who is your favorite person to follow on social media?

@thecoveteur is probably #1, followed by @townandcountrymag, @annstreetstudio, @hillarykerr, @tuulavintage and of course, @thesocialkat!

Goals for 2016?

Audience growth, new feature/series launches, and more travels to destinations with a sense of place.

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Cheers to #girlbosses everywhere.

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