Leader: Kathleen King, Founder of Tate’s Bake Shop started her business at 20, lost it at 40, rebuilt it from scratch (pun intended) and then sold it for three times the price she thought she would.
Lives in: Southampton, NY
Leadership lesson: Losing everything can help you focus and make better business decisions.
Life lesson: If you are an athlete, consider taking singing lessons to improve your breath control.
Kathleen King’s story is a true testament to transforming great loss into gains. Her cookie empire dates all the way back to age 11 when she first started selling cookies after her father told her she needed to buy her own clothes for school. She would go on to buy her first store, Kathleen’s Bake Shop, in the Hamptons at age 20.
After many years of working hard in the business, she was ready to lighten her tremendous workload and ease some stress and recruited the wrong business partners. She was fired from her own bakeshop. After a grueling eight months in court later she got her building back but lost her business name...and was left with about $200,000 in debt.
While many would find it impossible to overcome such a devastating setback, Kathleen found liberation. Her previous bakeshop had been her “baby” and when that was taken away from her, she was stripped of her strong emotional attachment to her business and was able to execute her next action steps to rebuild and scale the company with profound clarity so she could reach her goal of selling the business.
She learned from her previous business mistakes, reset her course and was ready to move forward. When Tate’s sold to Riverside, she kept 20 percent of the company and slowly began to step away from the empire she had created. Riverside sold Tate’s Bake Shop for $500M to Mondelez International. She’s no longer a part of the business and has enjoyed this newfound sense of self-discovery for about a year now. I consider her a Leadership Leaver because she is in a stage of life where she focusing on her legacy (and having more fun!).
Kathleen is still keeping herself busy. She’s still up at 5 AM and spending her days cycling, learning Spanish, taking salsa lessons, and mentoring other entrepreneurs. Her advice to others looking to sell and leave a business they built? “Life is too short and moves too quickly. So just do it - the right way and with the right help. We all want to be successful and feel a sense of purpose in life, but we need to find the balance and the time to enjoy our successes just as much.”
Kathleen’s story is inspiring for anyone facing challenges She’s a true testament of rising from the ashes and turning a loss into gain. Her story of resilience has helped me personally and professionally and I know it will offer you insights as well. She shares her wit and wisdom in this interview we did together at The Spur in Southampton earlier this year:
Special thanks to Ashley Heather and Kevin Wood for providing the space and film production for this interview.