Not all who wander are lost. They may just be looking for the right coffee creamer.
When you visit the Wander Life Coconut Creamer website, you’re immediately transported to a beach. Or to Vietnam. Or Tulum. Or Thailand. After all, travel is one of the keywords used in the description of the product itself.
For Kat Waldrip, it was this love of travel—and a dietary restriction—that inspired her to start her own business. “My husband and I love to travel, and I needed something to take along for my morning coffee that would work with my dietary needs,” she said. While preparing for a family trip to the British Virgin Islands, Waldrip, who has battled gastric issues for most her life, was on the hunt for such a coffee creamer.
It had to be shelf stable, portable, and it had to follow TSA guidelines. This proved more challenging than you might think. Exasperated with the search, she finally put together her own organic creamer mixture and brought it in a mason jar. On the trip, her family raved about the taste. And that was the motivator for Wander Life Coconut Creamer. “I wanted to help people live a healthy and convenient life.”
After a lot of hard work, Waldrip and her husband have now curated a life based around their main passions: traveling and helping people enjoy life.
“We love working with people and giving them healthier options for their everyday lives. But for the people that can’t have dairy, it’s truly amazing,” she said. “Recently, we had a client reach out who’s going through chemo, and he has a very strict diet. He said, ‘Hey, this makes me feel like a normal person again. I can finally enjoy my coffee, and this is something that my doctor’s even signed off on.'”
From concept to the final packaging, there’s a big story in each individual coconut creamer packet.
Finding Home in Austin
“I’ve lived in Austin for almost nine years,” said Waldrip. “I came here for college and just fell in love with the city.”
Austin is a young, weird, and wonderfully artistic city. Creative types in all fields flock to this spot for its community, weather, and love for the nontraditional. “I think Austin has influenced my company in a lot of different ways,” she said. “Austin is such a cool and collaborative environment. It’s a really supportive community here.”
Collaboration is key to the success of her business. While she runs the shipping side out of her home, the production side is run from a shared space. “I operate out of a co-working space [called] Capital Factory and also rent space from Manon’s Shared Kitchen in North Austin,” she said. “It’s a great collaborative work environment. In Austin, we work hard to make sure we’re maximizing our space. Austin is small, and I think most people don’t realize just how small it is.”
That’s the great thing about Austin. Ownership of a company or a brand is encouraged, but brick-and-mortar spaces are shared, facilitating an environment of friendly competition and personal growth. “As a Texan, we definitely do things bigger, and we’re definitely maybe over-confident at times,” Waldrip laughed. “But it’s given me the confidence to get out there and try to do something that helps people.”
A Better Way to Grow
For Waldrip, her business isn’t hampered by a lack of space. In fact, it’s emboldened by a strong foundation of community, particularly in the draw of Downtown Austin. “We wanted to live in an area where we could walk and enjoy all of the amenities of downtown.”
This desire led to the decision to live in a smaller space so their business could grow. “I owned a house for about four to five years down in South Austin, about five miles outside of the city,” she said. “But ultimately, my husband and I wanted something smaller and more manageable. We were filling up rooms just to fill up rooms, instead of utilizing the space that we had.”
Both she and her husband now work from home. “We downsized from over 1,500 square to just under 900 square feet. My husband works out of the living room, and I use the guest bedroom as my office,” she said. “I’m fulfilling shipping orders in a 5×9 foot space. There’s definitely some challenges, but we’ve figured out how to utilize what space we have and run lean.”
Downsizing has opened many doors for Waldrip and her business, one of which is the ability to declutter mentally and focus on the things that matter most to her. “Moving into a smaller, more compact apartment has allowed us to maximize our living,” she said. “It’s improved our quality of life, afforded us the ability to freely quit our jobs, and invest in the future of this company.”