Kara Welker: Girl Power

By Dalina Michaels   |   May 10, 2022
Montecito mom and GRLBND founder, Kara Welker

When you think of the words “girl band,” the first thing that comes to mind might be the nostalgic groups of the ‘90s: Spice Girls, Dixie Chicks, The Cranberries. But what makes a girl band is its truest definition: a group of women who harmonize together.

Enter Montecito mom and GRLBND founder, Kara Welker. Kara is a talent manager, producer, and the creator of GRLBND, a female-founded, owned, and operated collective of managers and producers who are committed to elevating diverse voices across all genres and platforms. 

“There weren’t many female mentors when I was a young manager,” Kara says, “and I was thrown to the wolves. My goal is to help and empower women to be the next generation of female managers; to work together and not compete against each other, to use their voice, and to ask questions.”

Kara has been at the top of her game in talent representation for over 25 years, paying her dues and being a relentless advocate for her clients as she pursued her goals. However, the start of her career never could have prepared her for her auspicious future in the entertainment business.

“I went to UC Irvine and The Improv Comedy Club was nearby, so I got a job selling tickets and working in the office. That was my first exposure to the comedy scene, and I caught the bug.”

Comedy was a whole new world and Kara was hooked. For her, the assignment was clear – learn every single thing about the comedy scene: from how things work behind-the-scenes and protocols, to how the sets flowed throughout the night. She got to know the comedians who were passing through and began making connections. Eventually, that led to working with up-and-coming comedians who would go on to be comedy legends including Drew Carey, Tim Allen, and Janeane Garofalo to name a few.

“I have been in the entertainment industry for a couple decades now and there still was a serious lack of women-led management companies, and good representation getting behind those who have been traditionally underrepresented. I realized I could create my own company to meet that need, and I’m thrilled to be part of a team that celebrates diversity and puts women at the top.”

Kara Welker and her family moved to Montecito in the middle of starting a business and the pandemic

Kara’s decision to create GRLBND correlated with her family’s big move to Montecito at a time when everything felt uncertain: the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We couldn’t take another second on ‘Zoom school.’ We had good friends who had moved here and over spring break last year, we made the migration. It has been a wonderful and refreshing change!”

Certainly, moving to Montecito in the middle of starting a new business made it a little tricky to continue in-person meetings in Los Angeles, but Kara has found a way to make it work – and her business and family are thriving.

“Forget driving to L.A., does anyone else take the Surfliner? That thing is amazing! You hop on the train in Santa Barbara and it drops me off in Burbank. I can get a full day of work in without worrying about traffic; it’s brilliant!” Welker adds, “and then when I get home, I can be fully present for my family.”

Of course, there are some drawbacks. Kara is pragmatic about this new work-from-home era that we’ve all experienced. In addition to managing GRLBND, Kara stays busy as a producer through her first look deal with Imagine Entertainment, the production company founded by Hollywood royalty, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard

“Not being in an office is hard and you can only do so much over the phone or Zoom. Collaboration is faster and more organic when you’re in person, so it’s been an adjustment.”

With the many hats she wears and this new way of balancing work and family life, Welker, her husband Tim Fornara, and their two kids, Franklin and Sorcha, have found the Montecito life to be just their cup of joe. From Rori’s ice cream shop to Butterfly Beach or taking a mid-day lunch break at the Honor Bar, they’ve found their favorite haunts and go-to places in town. 

“You can’t beat it up here. We love taking the dogs for walks, going to the beach, and exploring different neighborhoods. It’s paradise.”


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