BABE #100: OLGA KAY, Founder + CEO @ Moosh Walks
Olga is an entertainer, comedian, writer, director and entrepreneur extraordinaire. Born in a Russian village in Crimea, she became a circus juggler at age 14 and immigrated to America with the Ringling Brothers Circus at 16. She continued her journey as a performer via the YouTube channel(s) she created in 2006 (which have since garnered over 1.3 million followers and over 160 million views) before launching Moosh Walks, a fashion brand focused on empowering girls through unique self expression. We're honored that Olga took the time to chat with us (for our 100th interview!) today and we're so excited to share her story. Thanks so much, lady! You are a freakin' Babe.
Hometown: Crimea, Russia
Current city: Los Angeles, CA
Alma mater: N/A
Very first job: Juggler in the circus
Hustle: Founder + CEO @ Moosh Walks
Babe you admire and why?
Sara Blakely. She has put such tenacity, hard work, and creativity into building SPANX.
How do you spend your free time?
I love going to the movies and spending time with friends at house parties. I also try to meditate often to clear my head.
Go-to adult beverage?
What would you eat for your very last meal?
Pelmeni (Russian dumplings!)
Biggest pet peeve?
People who are late.
Three things we can always find in your fridge?
Homemade cold brew, sugar snap peas, and face masks.
What does your typical workday look like?
I wake up at 6:30am each day and start with meditation and a dog walk. I don't check my emails until about 45 minutes after I wake up. After that, my day usually differs. Some days I commit to creating partnerships, others are all about fulfilling Moosh Walks orders. I'm also always working on ways to develop new direct-to-consumer strategies.
What did you learn about yourself during your time in the circus?
I learned a lot about resilience and hard work. I was told at age 14 that I was too old to become a great performer. Instead of being discouraged, I worked twice as hard as others to become one of the best at juggling. Today, I can practically juggle anything without practice.
How did those lessons follow you through your journey to America and into the rest of your career?
I realized during my time in the circus that if you work hard in any industry, you will achieve success. I love the phrase, "the harder you work, the luckier you get.” I truly believe that. It's also important to be able to recognize when an opportunity is right in front of you, so you can act on it and propel it to the next level without wasting any time.
You now have over 1.2 million subscribers across your 5 YouTube channels and a number of video production jobs under your belt. What was the process of growing your channels and fan base like?
It was all about consistency, and simply being at places everyone went. In the beginning of my YouTube career, I opened up a credit card for the sole purpose of traveling to different YouTube events and gatherings in order to meet, connect and create with people who shared the platform with me. It's all about collaboration.
Similarly, what is your relationship to YouTube today as opposed to 10 years ago when you started?
I loved the Golden Age of Youtube. I started back in 2006 when most people didn't even know about the site. The platform was filled with passionate creators who wanted to share their talent. It was never about money, it was always about self-expression. The entrepreneur in me loved the early stages of YouTube because we were all figuring out what works and what doesn't, even when no one believed in what we were creating. It was even more amazing to finally achieve success and see all the non-believers trying to be part of the ride.
When did you get the idea for Moosh Walks? What inspired it, and what has the response been like?
I always say Moosh Walks was born from the ashes of my burnout on YouTube. I was producing twenty-three videos a week and had so many incredible opportunities, but something was still missing. Eventually, I stepped away from the career I spent so many years building to reevaluate what was important to me, and realized I wanted to create something that was beyond my popularity. I wanted to give more value to young girls; I wanted them to be trendsetters among their peers and discover their own voices through unique fashion choices. I didn't want girls to feel invisible when they walk into a crowded room anymore, and that's where the idea for Moosh Walks came from.
What's the story behind the ‘Moosh Walks’ name?
That's a fun one! Moosh Walks was originated from my cat Mushka, who was a big part of my channel on YouTube when I started. We started using the word Moosh as our secret word for the community of viewers I’ve built. Basically, if you knew what 'Moosh,' was, you were a part of Olga Kay’s online Moosh Army. Moosh also has double ‘O’s, which are often turned into eyes with lashes, which gives the word the illusion of being alive. I am obsessed with giving life to everything around me.
What is your office culture like?
I believe in giving professionals the freedom of creativity as well as the freedom of messing up. I launched The #MooshWalksJourney Project earlier this year, in which I brought together freelance photographers to capture Moosh Walks around the world. Letting go and letting my group of 15 photographers push their own boundaries resulted in amazing creativity and visuals that I would have never come up with myself. Again, collaboration is a huge key to unlocking the magic.
How do you manage your schedule and organize all of your responsibilities?
My team consists of many freelancers who work remotely on tasks like product illustration or photography. But at this point, all of the growth opportunities and partnerships are on me. Each quarter, I figure out my main goals, break them down into small steps, and work my way through them. The hardest part is to keep reminding myself to be patient.
What is your take on work-life balance?
Building all of my careers at different times made me realize that I would always sacrifice my personal life. I had to be entirely goal-oriented since my jobs and passions were things I could easily do 24/7 without breaks, so I learned to force myself to relax and find as much balance as possible. My advice would be to trust your drive and know that you’ll always accomplish your goals - even if you choose to relax for the whole weekend. Stepping away also boosts your creativity!
How would you say your gender and/or ethnicity has affected your professional experience?
I am Russian. We work hard and then we work harder. Sometimes I think we have iron built into our DNA; I am so happy to come from a country of hardworking humans that have helped to shape my work ethic and drive.
Where do you think your strong passion for women empowerment stems from?
I grew up in a small village in Russia and started traveling around big cities with the circus at 14 years of age. I never quite felt that I was educated or talented enough, but I noticed that through hard work, I would always gain the respect of people around me. I've been so lucky to have mentors who have shown me that they believe in me, even before I believed in myself. When I developed an audience of teenage girls on YouTube, I realized so many of them needed guidance, and I was always seen as their older sister they looked up to. Launching Moosh Walks was clear to me that I wasn't only creating cute animated socks, I was also giving a laugh or a voice to everyone who felt unheard. I believe women are strong and can accomplish anything if people around them believe in them.
What are some common misconceptions about your job(s)?
Being a female juggler, I was often not taken seriously, the agents would say, "female Juggler? She probably just twirls things... we have plenty of those already." So I always had to beg people to watch my reel. Similarly, people who have never done YouTube for a living think that it's the easiest job in the world. No one realizes that you are completely on your own, doing the jobs of 10 people at once - from writing to directing to acting to marketing to building engagement, which is one of the hardest skills to have. I've seen brands with millions of dollars and unlimited resources trying to build engagement on social media, only to learn that it's not that easy. Starting Moosh Walks was probably the hardest of all my careers so far, as I had to learn every angle of my business from manufacturing to breaking my product into a market without relying on my popularity on YouTube.
What are some of the everyday struggles with your job(s) that we might not see?
HA - all the tears! You have to overcome so many obstacles when building a brand from scratch. Not everything works as planned, so you have to embrace your mistakes and keep going. It's already hard to build a brand as is, and mistakes could cost you a lot of money. It's a lot of trial and error through the tears that no one sees.
How have you consistently produced new and creative content for all these years? What are your remedies when you hit a wall creatively and struggle to come up with new ideas?
Meditation plays a magic role in my life. Before I implemented it into my routine, I would become stressed and get stuck on something, and the solutions would never come. Now, I know to give myself the permission to unplug, stop thinking, and mediate. Naturally, those are the moments when things click, and all of the sudden, I have a solution to my problem. Committing to a regular meditation routine is truly magic.
What’s your favorite thing about your job(s)? Least favorite?
I love seeing the progress and growth of it all; I love looking back at ideas that overtime become a reality. I love the journey, even if it's incredibly hard. Now when I run into a huge issue, instead of dwelling on how stressed I am about it, I remind myself of past issues that I once felt were the end of the world (that I can now look back and laugh at.) So I trust my journey by saying “a year from now I'll be laughing about this. Breathe, cry, wipe your tears, and go to work and get it done.”
What would you say is your biggest strength in your career?
The ability to discover gaps in every industry that I've been a part of. If you can fill in the gaps, you have a higher chance of being noticed.
What would you say is the skill you most need to improve?
What motivates and inspires you?
Progress. Discipline helps us achieve success, and knowing what success feels like motivates us to do more. If you wait for motivation to come, it won't. You have to be disciplined to achieve small goals, and the rest is a snowball effect.
What does success look like to you?
Completing a goal you set out to achieve, big or small.
What’s your take on work-life balance?
I'm still trying to figure that out. Sacrifices have to be made to become successful, but hopefully not for long. Balance is so important for longevity.
What's next for you?
I hope to expand the Moosh Walks brand into more than just socks. I want the characters I've created to truly come alive through an animated show and beyond!
Career and/or life advice for other Babes?
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Put a list together of everything that terrifies you, and lean into the unknown. Two things will happen: you’ll realize it wasn't as bad as you thought, and you’ll learn so much about yourself and how you belong to the world, which in result, will open so many new doors. Go to different events, put yourself out there, and be curious. You never know who’ll meet in your journey.
In partnership with: Moosh Walks!
Moosh Walks was founded on the idea that self expression and individuality are the necessary steps to discover your confidence. Embracing your own, individual voice is the foundation for becoming a fearless trendsetter and leader. Check out the selection, learn all about the characters Olga has created, and show your support by purchasing a pair or two! (They make great gifts and they're just really freakin' cute.)
*This is an affiliate partnership. That means when you shop using our links and/or promo codes, a portion of your purchase goes right back to us, so we can then roll out some awesome new things for you. Of course, we only promote brands and products we genuinely stand behind and know you babes will enjoy.