HOW TO JUST GO FOR IT
KATHARINA THERESIA SCHÜRF
Freelance Beauty, Body and Fashion Journalist
WHY KATHI IS OUR GIRL
I met Kathi in 2011. We studied fashion journalism and media communication together in Munich. She has always been one of the most positive and fun people I know and I loved that she is always in good spirits – even if it wasn’t easy for her at times. A while back, she quit her (super safe and for many people dream-) job to start as a freelance journalist. How that goes? Keep reading, girls.
Kathi studied at AMD Academy for fashion and design in Munich and is now living and working there as a freelance journalist.
You’ve quit your (dream)-job and now you’re working as a freelance journalist. Why?
I always felt the urge to do my own thing. But it was just a tiny plant inside of me and I knew that it wasn’t ready to survive outside just yet. I needed to gain more experiences and to build up my network first, so I did that in my jobs as a fashion and beauty editor. I always loved fashion just as much as beauty, sports and lifestyle. But when you work at a magazine, you can choose only one department - not very zeitgeisty... To me that felt like having three kids and always neglecting two of them.
What finally gave you the confidence to do it?
When I started to get job offers from different companies I felt like ‘I’m ready now, let’s gather all my skills and try doing my own thing’. So I didn't take my new contract, neglected the other offers as well and here I am...
Do you sometimes doubt if going freelance was the right thing to do?
Not at all. I was scared of that first but it’s the opposite. I feel more happy and proud about my decision every day. Of course, especially when I neglected job offers before going freelance I was like ‘shit, am I really doing the right thing?’. But now I just think, cool I’m doing this now and at the end of the year I will see how it goes.
Is there something people forget when they want to go freelance?
You have to be ready to not feel financially secure all the time. For me it’s always been like that, I always had to take care of my own.
From time to time, you just have to deal with panik attacks.
Just don’t be scared of these times, that’s the most important thing – just know you can do it!
How much experience did you have beforehand?
I interned at the magazines Joy and Shape and from that on, everything went quite smoothly. I got the offer to return and start as a fashion assistant right after university. My boss quickly gave me a lot of influence and responsibilities and after around eight months I became a fashion editor. It was just like heaven for me because I did everything from writing, to productions, to stuff like interviewing Rita Ora. Then I got the offer from Glamour magazine and decided to take it.
Sounds almost too smooth to be true. What do you think you did differently than others?
The feedback I always got was that I’m thinking outside the box and take initiative on my own. But I honestly think that passion is the key to success.
You have to love what you do, then you’re automatically good at it. You have to feel it.
Did you have a lot of negative experiences in your career?
Unfortunately, there’s always people who feel threatened by other people succeeding. I would lie if I said I didn’t feel that from time to time. Though it hurts a lot, I thought: Should I hustle less to make someone else feel better about themselves? No. If I love what I do I always give my best and want it to result in something amazing.
Never let anyone dim your sparkle because at the end it’s YOU who’s not sparkling anymore...
At magazines you mainly work with women. How was that?
I’m a person who needs peace and harmony. Unfortunately in that field there’s a lot of jealousy which for me is the worst. I can defend myself, but I don’t want to and hate when I have to. At women’s magazines there’s sadly still more competitiveness than supporting and empowering one another. Quite the contrary in the freelance market. There’s a real community, the whole spirit of ‘hey, let’s do something together’ or recommending one another and I totally love that.
What helps most with becoming a freelancer?
My network! Which makes me so happy and thankful because so far all the jobs I did as a freelancer were offers - I did not have to pitch for a single one yet. A good reputation is the main thing: Treat people you work with the way you want to be treated, do a good job and they will gladly work with you again - one might also say it’s Karma... And I do believe in Karma. As well as - to me the most important thing in life generally - self love. If you honestly love and appreciate yourself you won’t ever be filled with negative feelings such as envy.
How do you structure yourself?
In the beginning I thought I have to get up just as early as before. But no. If I don’t feel good in the morning, if I have PMS, heartache, whatever, I stay in bed longer and then work late at night to get shit done - do what’s best for you, how you are the most effective - main thing is that you are effective.
Who supports you the most?
I didn’t get a lot of support back in the days from my family. Now I have my dad’s support but I luckily always had people in my life that became like parents or like a mother to me: my ex’s parents, a former colleague and now very dear friend and also working partner (she took the freelance plunge as well and is now already slaying af, a shining example to me) or my former boss who was my fashion director. She always believed in me and fostered all my talents - including the ones I didn’t really take seriously: She kept saying I should also do acting or something with my voice. When she then did a fashion film she asked me to be her main character‘s voice. At the end we got nominated for best narration amongst others at the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival in LA - the Cannes of the fashion film world. Isn’t that the best example of what amazing can happen if you support each other?
What’s your advice for everyone who wants to go freelance?
Really and seriously believe in yourself and love yourself. If you don’t love, trust and believe in yourself nothing is going to work - be it in friendships, relationships or your job.
Self-love really is the fucking answer in every situation.