Kat Garcia (Kathleen Garcia-Manjarres) is the co-founder & co-CEO of Cheres. She previously invested, built, and scaled fintechs alongside some of the world's most influential companies at BCG Digital Ventures as a Growth Architect, and while working in corporate venture capital.
You were an actress for almost 10 years before transitioning to a startup in the financial services sector. What prompted that career pivot?
I've definitely lived many lives but I always knew I would become an entrepreneur. While I was an actress and independent recording artist, I was very much the business person in charge of my career and that meant marketing and branding myself.
I was a very early YouTuber - like back in 2006 before the term "influencer" or "creator" existed. I coded my websites and blog with basic HTML & CSS, haha. It was a whole thing.
School was always my priority so as I got to business school, I ended up transitioning my content and career into that space. As I studied Finance, I just couldn't fathom why I wasn't taken seriously as a woman and why this world of "Wall Street" felt incredibly exclusionary. I ended up working in the corporate world alongside banks and I guess that chip on my shoulder just grew. I was making finance more relatable through my YouTube content and felt the need and responsibility to change that space at a much grander scale.
Working as a startup entrepreneur, what have been your greatest lessons learned so far?
I'm still learning and growing, and I know I'm early in my journey.
- Always remember why you are doing what you're doing and hang on to that. This is especially true when things get tough.
- Never compare yourself. Others have it better, others have it worse. It really doesn't matter. No one can take what is meant for you so run your own race.
- It's OK to not be OK. Being a founder is hard. I gave up a lot, gambling on building something bigger than myself, and that has come with a lot of sacrifice. It's a privilege but it doesn't mean I don't have hard days. I'm learning to love myself without asking for permission during those days.
Tell us about your latest venture, Cheres. What problem does it solve and for whom?Cheres strives to re-imagine the next generation's relationship with money and unlock their wealth creation by making traditional and decentralized finance easily manageable, relatable, and accessible.
We released our mobile app on the App Store and you're now able to better manage all your investments in one place. We provide personalized insights across your crypto, stocks, ETFs, and NFTs.
What are some of the most important guidelines you try to get across when people are thinking about their financial goals?
How does someone gain access to Cheres and what can they expect when they join your community?
They can download the app! It's available on the App Store.
We also have a new Beta program for those who want to co-build the app with us as we progressively iterate it. When you join the Beta program, you'll get access to our exclusive events featuring special guests like wealth managers, change makers in crypto and the stock market, and our partners. Last year we collaborated with Lively Soho and Equinox as the latter rolled out payment with crypto for memberships.
You’ve also been an active influencer on social media for a long time. How do you handle awareness as a founder and your following on social media? Have you experienced any challenges with negativity that you can share how you’ve combatted it?
I think I got scared. If I'm completely honest, I really struggled last year with being "out there". It was a huge adjustment for my friends, family, and myself because my sole focus was Cheres. I'm venture backed and with that comes a lot of pressure and responsibility. I had a lot of founder guilt.
If I didn't hit my KPIs, I didn't want to make a big fuss about being in Europe with our team - even if we worked night and day. If I couldn't make my friends' destination weddings, I didn't feel comfortable posting myself going out - even if it was just with my family. Social media isn't really a forgiving place because it doesn't provide all the context and I didn't have the tools. I didn't know how to properly communicate these new changes and expectations to others or myself.
I think the lack of posting really frustrated me. I wanted to be honest and post about my journey, or tell the world how I was feeling because that is how I've coped for the last 17 years since I've been on social media (let's count Piczo.com as social...). The reality is there is a time for everything and when you're focused on building a tech product, you need to work on product market fit. That means both sides: product and market. I needed to be laser focused on other things, and that's ok.
This year, I'm finally in a place where I know how to tackle these challenges and these issues are very much in the past. Cheres is ready for me to be loud and proud. I've combatted myself!
With fashion and dressing up for events, how do you dress for a cocktail party and when do you wear a cocktail dress versus a day dress?
Ouuu! I tend to wear statement cocktail dresses for night events where I can afford to be a bit more risqué. This is if the dress is sparkly, bright or is more of a statement piece.
If it's winter and I want to be a bit more "business", I'll wear a turtleneck on top of a gown type dress so it looks like a skirt...this is a favorite thing to do.
I'll wear a day dress that's more floral and bright usually during the summer for garden parties or when the event is outside.
Do you have any tips on what to wear over a cocktail dress?
I love a good wrapped blanket scarf with a brooch. Especially if the cocktail dress is in a nude tone. If not, I suck it up, or wear a long-sleeve cocktail dress.Do you have a personal cocktail party dress code?
I tend to wear nude heels. I think it's because it makes most of my dresses stand out while remaining elegant. But yes - I always wear heels with cocktail dresses.
Do you have favorite shoes or jewelry that you can wear with a cocktail dress?
Define your unique style: how do you style a black dress for a party?
My black dresses are always on the risque side...There's usually a slit for some side cleavage or deep V. A smokey eye, nude lip, with a nude/black heels is how I wear the dress. I'll also do a big blowout with my hair or a sleek back pony for my dark hair. As for the clutch - I borrow from my glamorous sister. Let's just hope she doesn't read this...
What are you looking forward to in 2023?
I'm excited for the work, the challenges, and the victories I'll have. The difference is I'll do it while protecting my energy...while being myself the whole way through.