Katie Burch

Use Design to Skyrocket Your Biz
November 26 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Designing a Better Business

There’s a home in southwestern Pennsylvania that solicits millions of tourists from around the world. Designed in 1935 by Frank Lloyd Wright, “Fallingwater” is something you have to see in person to fully understand. If you search for it online, you’ll inevitably see the iconic image of the home seemingly floating above a waterfall. But what’s most fascinating is that something so beautiful and unique and valuable—worth $2.5 million today—hides amongst the trees on a hillside, with sandstone often used inside and corner windows giving uninterrupted views.

If you feel stuck in a job where you feel unnoticed or underappreciated, remember this house; don’t place all of your worth in one person or one company’s hand. Know that just because your charm and effort go without praise doesn’t mean no one can see those qualities or that they aren’t there.


I live in an area where new buildings are popping up left and right. Apartment complexes that weren’t there yesterday are for lease today and master-planned communities are multiplying. It’s like the song, “Little Boxes” popularized by the show Weeds' theme song: "Little boxes made of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same.” For those who get joy from seeing design, whether it’s architecture or a doctor’s office pamphlet, you aren’t alone. From 2004 to 2014, companies that were design-conscious saw a return of 219 percent, compared to those companies that thought those little boxes that look the same would produce high returns.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Katie Burch, Founding Partner & Principal Architect of PlanNorth Architectural Co.

Today’s Woman to Watch, Katie Burch, is a woman known for building what she calls “brand architecture” for businesses. Creating a strong company brand is the kind of thing that makes us want to interact with a company that has someone like Katie behind it. She’s the founding partner and principal architect for PlanNorth Architectural Co., which specializes in designing churches, nonprofits and private businesses.

From working on buildings like Hyundai and the Youth Development Center in Houston, Katie has been responsible for contributing stunning design with the help of her team members. According to Katie, buildings matter a ton for brands: Customers are drawn in and stay a while, employees can feel motivated to keep going and experiences can stretch on for years to come.

Back when Katie was a little girl and was told to clean her room, she would drag everything out of the room first and start anew. Not your typical kid who hides clutter under the bed, right? Katie uses her childhood experience as a way to demonstrate how she approaches design projects. Starting in a bare-bones fashion means hashing out aspects over lengthy conversations. It means coming up with a couple dozen ideas before one sticks. It’s hard and trying, but worth it.

While Katie admits that one of the perks of design is seeing a beautiful concept come to life, the thing that’s stuck with her over the years has been experiencing the fruits of her labor through someone else’s eyes: The congregation or a volunteer’s face lights up when they see the result. Those days, Katie says, are her best days.

When starting out as an entrepreneur, figuring out your strategy is often the hardest part. Check out our six tips for the beginner entrepreneur by clicking here or, if you’re listening via podcast, head over to OnTheDotWoman.com!


Let’s close the door on today’s story with a quote by Katie Burch:

"Designing something beautiful is satisfying. But sharing that experience with others who haven't experienced it and letting them be a part...now that's exciting. Those are my very best days."

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