This week, we talk to Katie Longmyer, the Queen Bee of the New York City night life scene and how she pivoted her love of music into crafting one-of-a-kind experiences for big brands that need cool factor. You can #BeAnything if you create it.
What is your origin story?
I think my origin story started in a nightclub. I was 16 and wanting to discover new things and new music and ended up discovering underground dance music parties. At the time they weren’t as commercially absorbed as they are now so there was a lot of deep diving to discover new vinyl and new DJs. I fell in love with it.
In nightclubs you’d see all the misfits who would go to work every day as totally regular people but at night they’d get all decked out, dance through the night, loving the music and I just knew that was my new home.
I also knew that I didn’t just want to be there partying. I was always into the infrastructure of things, so I dove behind the scenes pretty quickly and became a promoter. I handed out flyers, worked at the door and everything evolved from there.
I’m so bad at talking about myself that I had my friend write my bio. It says “Katie Longmyer is a New York City-based, internationally accomplished experiential creative”. I bridge the gap between really cool artists and creative ideas with big brands who want to infuse their identity with cool stuff. Neither sides are really adept at talking to each other so I like to live in that space between.
What are some mountains that you’ve moved that you’re especially proud of?
There aren’t a lot of women who interface in the very specific spaces that I’m in right now so I think that’s a big accomplishment. A lot of women that have worked for me that are now out in the world doing really killer stuff. Becoming a mentor to other women who grow into bosses that run awesome things in the experiential, creative, and nightlife spaces is something I’m really proud of.
You just mentioned that there aren’t a lot of women working in the fields that you do. Was there ever a moment where you were discouraged but you said ‘let’s do it anyway’ and found success?
The music culture is recently experiencing a change but I came up in the hip hop and record label vibe where the way women are portrayed are clearly not that of say a powerful executive. That trickles into the culture of the business which just made me more determined that I can do anything any man can do. I carried a ‘Try to stop me’ mantra. Any time anyone put a hurdle in front of me, I just saw it as an opportunity to be better, be faster, be the best at my job so that it would be impossible for me to be put up against anybody else. I didn’t want anyone to say ‘We shouldn’t give this job to a girl’. They can’t ignore the calibre of your work, if you make your work the best.
If you could give all women a superpower what would it be and why?
Be fearless. Women are empathic by nature, taking that into the business place makes you a better worker in my opinion. However, it’s also something I see that holds a lot of women back because they’re fearful of sticking up for themselves or to be aggressive and decisive.
I’d want every woman to have a very strong voice. That’s something I always try to teach.
If you have a point of view, back it up with facts and present it in an awesome way - people will hear you.
Is there a specific story you can share to help women break the mold?
Recently, I was freelancing at an ad agency and I was really particular about what I wanted my life to look like while I was taking on this big project. I outlined my schedule, needs and fee which was all pretty aggressive. I really held my ground. They turned me down thinking it was too much.
I went back to them and let them know I really wanted this job and I would absolutely kill it for them. I really believed that I could ask this of them because of what they were asking of me. They were surprised by my response and I very quickly ended up in the CEO’s office because he wanted to meet me. He said that the way I operated in this situation and the work I had been doing reminded him of him. I ended up with a really incredible opportunity where I had the ear of a very smart powerful person because I pushed and broke a boundary. I stuck up for myself and I stood my ground. I said I deserved it and I proved it.
Not accepting defeat, articulating my needs and supporting with good work - all that landed me with a life-changing experience. That person is someone I consider a mentor now.
Is there a fun interesting fact about you that you’d like to share?
My fun Katie fact is that I’m a classically trained cellist, it’s what I went to college for. I guess the reason why that’s funny is I’m usually found at a nightclub standing behind the DJ or dancing all night or in a punk rock dive bar - those are ‘Katie’ standard environments. So what most people don’t realize is that if you catch me driving around in a car I’m actually listening to a symphony orchestra really loudly. I’m almost in tears because I think it’s so beautiful.
It’s easy to categorize within music, nightlife and entertainment, but there are so many multi-layered people and I love it.
What is something that you’d like to remind yourself?
Don’t take it too seriously. Something I’ve been trying to do lately is to make sure that I am having fun and appreciating the interesting environments I’m in every day. I think sometimes I get so deep into the details of my work that I forget that I’m doing really rad stuff and being surrounded by the most creative people. I’ll get so absorbed into making sure everything is executed perfectly that I forget to stop for a minute and look around to realize what I’ve built my life into. It’s so awesome.
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