Redefining Beauty at our Pop-up Storytelling Studio



Big visionaries behind small businesses share their insights and experiences in this series. Learn how to share your brand story here.

Kate Perna's picture
All #SmallBizDiary Entries by Kate Perna
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I started the I.BE Lab as an extension of my brand’s philosophy that the most extraordinary beauty is on the inside. Each month, we interview and photograph women and give them an opportunity to express their often complicated relationship with beauty. The stories women have shared so far have all been unique, but there’s a commonality. As women, we often feel an expectation to do and be everything. It comes from social media, magazines, and even our culture—it’s a deep-seated feeling that we’re not enough. I wanted to create a space for conversation about our ideas of beauty, how they’ve evolved or been shaped, what we consider the most beautiful parts of ourselves, and when we feel the most beautiful.

Before the idea for a pop-up storytelling studio took shape, we were having these conversations in coffee shops and at kitchen tables. And while that worked, it wasn't ideal; public places are noisy so we had issues with the quality of the audio, and the portraits lacked the kind of consistency that I was envisioning. I began looking for studio space. A cozy, minimalist, naturally-lit space that would welcome women and their stories with open arms. I found the perfect place, but extenuating circumstances– major surgery and a long recovery– derailed me. Fast forward to the Open Studios event in Newburgh, NY: I had been wanting to check out the Atlas building, and it was the perfect opportunity. Making my way from the second to first floor, I stopped on a large landing and admired the white-washed brick and floor-to-ceiling industrial windows. And a light bulb went off– I would created a pop-up storytelling studio. I would find amazing place in amazing communities, and I would create the space I had been dreaming of. I went home, emailed Atlas, and said, "Can I please rent your second floor stairwell?"

I splurged on some upholstered folding chairs, scooped up an antique steamer trunk, bought a plant, and "Voila!" 

The I.BE Lab pop-up storytelling studio will move to different locations over the next year. Its first residency, at the Atlas Building in Newburgh, will run for three months, from November 2019 through January 2020. Women are invited to contact me through the I.BE website to set up a time to share their stories, or to email me directly at


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