Kate Boyer of Anatomie on designing clothing with versatility and flexibility in mind
Describe your business in a few words?
Anatomie is a luxury, women’s clothing brand specifically designed to outfit the global traveler in the most comfortable and stylish performance apparel. Made from the finest European fabrics, Anatomie apparel is super-lightweight, wrinkle-free, moisture-wicking, quick-drying, highly-durable, and specifically designed with the versatility and flexibility to accommodate an active travel lifestyle.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
Although life led me to founding a fashion brand, everything in my journey was born from a practical perspective. As a former gymnast from Hungary, I went to the south of France to pursue my MBA. After I began coaching kids and training them for competitions, I started making long lasting, comfortable outfits for them to travel, train and compete in. It all turned into a business at the wholesale and retail level, until I finally ended up in St Barth’s and ultimately Miami to work, design and sell clothing. I met my husband in 2006 and we created Anatomie together. He comes from a background of custom-made athletic menswear, so we made a good team from day one. He is creative and I’m all about the numbers! Our unique backgrounds and knowledge of stretch fabrics was taken to the next level by the audience we chased down with (hundreds of) private events around the country.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
When I was very little, I read Jack Welsh’s book about being a CEO. I was still in Hungary and had to look up many words in the dictionary in English to understand it. I was fascinated with running a company, building a team to create categories in the market, and the freedom to change the game. I was always independent, a fast thinker, aggressive to grow and always ready to learn. I love being an entrepreneur. Being a path finder is fun. It’s not easy, but it’s fun to be challenged every day!
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
An incredible whirlwind of customers took our relationship and business to the next level. We’ve had amazing adventures all around the world, including making a baby in Maui while we did our pop-up with the Four Seasons. Those ladies watched us hustle as a couple, and then as a family with our baby girl hanging in the bjorn all day while I was out selling! We’ve also met customers who initially came to redeem gift cards we gave out to NetJets and Inspirato that turned into investors. We went direct to consumer, all that mattered was convincing these tough ladies and turning them all into organic brand ambassadors.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
In the beginning, we accepted private label projects and said yes to a huge order from Bacardi for polo shirts, which we had no experience in making. We ended up ordering them from different factories but every shipment looked different – the fabrics, the fit, the logos. It was all a mess. We shipped them and received no complaints as the brand was facing a tough deadline that no one else could deliver upon. As a result, different parts of the country received different shirts. The lesson learned was that you should stick to your intuition and say no if you have to. It’s very hard, but important!
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Being visible in the top 50% of Inc.5000, being nominated as one of the most disruptive brands to watch by IAB next to fabulous companies like Allbirds, and of course being the first and only apparel brand ambassador of the Forbes travel guide are all great accomplishments. On the human side, I am very proud to call our 20+ employees our Anatomie family, and to be raising an awesome little girl in the middle of all this. Doing all of this with my husband on the team and having Tom Dietrich as COO on our side is a rare cultural fit that takes the company to the next level with people I 100% trust. The fact that our customers invested and are now shareholders makes Anatomie very unique. Our pants’ lifetime guarantee also makes me proud. Partnering with other world class companies is top of my list too.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
Tom does the interviewing as he has more experience in the protocol and diplomacy of all that. I look for the right attitude and stability in the personality so that we have people who complete our energies. I feel as though having a President/COO doing facilitating interviews is better than the founders as they can put emotions aside.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Between retail and travel, we were in the most affected segments. Many of our wholesale accounts closed or are still closed, including the high end cruise ships and specialty stores. Our DTC platform was always strong though, so e-commerce became a natural focus. We took advantage of real estate opportunities and opened several pop-ups such as Palm Beach. We went back to our roots in the direct selling model and quickly ramped up 75 VIP stylists around the country who service clients in the very personalized way we created our core values on. The mail order division came to life and is turning into one of our most profitable channels, forced by the lockdowns. I could make episode two of the movie American Hustle with what we went through in 2020.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
We exist to empower and inspire. Our Palm Beach pop-up location, and soon to be opening location in Westport, CT, function as fit studios that allow ladies to try items on and get to know not only their fit, but also their local VIP stylist. We view this service the same way Uber provides a driver to everyone!
When you do not have to iron, dry clean and can travel with simply your carry-on, you save yourself time, money, and energy. These are precious elements now more than ever, and Anatomie is here to help make them happen! We’ll definitely open more pop ups.
Additionally, we’ll focus more on mail orders and perfecting our UIX online and on mobile as it is very important to us. One of our core values is that speed matters.
International expansion is also on the horizon with agents in London, Germany and Dubai diligently working on the ground on business development. We just exhibited at the Summit of America, and I feel that Anatomie will be able to revolutionize travel retail. Airports are looking for innovation and ways to capture the new wave of leisure travelers during this time where business travel has stayed at 20% of the level of what it used to be. All of these things also play in our favor!
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Stick together with your team, take care of your people, and never run out of money. Pivot fast and don’t mess around. Wherever you see bleeding, stop it fast and find a band aid! Keep your sanity by staying healthy as your family and employees need you. Women have extra strength and somehow we always survive.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Don’t write negatively in emails. If I could only tell you the amount of times my original emails were forwarded and seen by eyes that they were not meant to be seen by. You can out think your competitors, but you cannot outspend them. This is especially true when you are self-funded and growing organically. Go where they aren’t and find your niche.
My personal favorite and a very important one: make sure you set yourself up to never run out of money! I wish I knew how important money raising and deal-making skill sets were when I started. We were simply focused on the customer and perfecting the products for them. It later played in our favor, but definitely resulted in a slower, more organic growth. Thanks to that, today we stand stronger than ever. Now it is really time to scale.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Save time for adventure and find time to laugh. It keeps you together and reminds you how far you’ve come.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Yes I do, especially for those who have kids. My daughter is my total focus when we get together after school and work. We just have fun outside for a few hours every day and I don’t look at my phone. I finish work when she is asleep. For all of those busy moms out there, make sure you get your sleep! We also like to get away every two months on short trips, and do a big adventure once a year. My whole family is in Europe and we make sure to see them there. Dogs help, too! Our crazy American bulldog keeps us laughing! Find things that make you happy to balance the stress and pressure of performing at work.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I broke my nose twice; once as a gymnast and once in an accident caused by my younger brother in Budapest. I cook really good Hungarian soups! I’ve gone skydiving, scuba diving and raced half Ironmans. I trained while pregnant. Lots of wild things about me would surprise your audience.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
- Routine: Start the day with exercise.
- Schedule: Stick to your plans and do not be late.
- Eat healthy, but don’t skip the afternoon chocolate.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Juggling lots of balls in the air and finding strength every step of the way.
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