Tell us about your business/for purpose organization (what inspired you to found Knix Wear; how long have you been in business; what is your specialty, products or services; how many employees do you have, etc.)
Knix Wear is an active intimates brand that came about when we noticed that women’s intimates had way too much frill and not enough function. And that women everywhere were being underserved by their underwear. We wanted to create an intimate apparel brand that was designed by women for women.
We launched our original line of high tech women’s underwear (leak proof, absorbent and anti odor) two and a half years ago through a successful crowdfunding campaign. Since then, we’ve become the leader in performance underwear for women, redefining the women’s underwear market. Known for our seamless design, moisture wicking and odor killing technology we have sold over 100,000 pairs of underwear to women from over 35 countries. In September of 2015 we launched our first bra via a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. In 40 days we sold over $1.1M in bras, becoming the most funded fashion project in the history of crowdfunding and the most funded female orientated product.
I first came up with the idea to start Knix Wear 7 years ago, after having a conversation with my mom who is a doctor about the physical realities of being a woman and discovering that an estimated 1 in 3 women experience the occasional light leak. I started speaking with hundreds of women, and realized that we could all do with an underwear upgrade. Underwear that not only looked great, but was comfortable and kept you ready for anything – no matter what. I did my MBA in 2011 at the global business school INSEAD, where I worked tirelessly on the idea, eventually winning the business venture competition and $20,000 to start the business. Our business is based out of Toronto Canada and we have a team of 7.
What makes your company/organization the leader in their industry?
Our product point of difference is that they combine fashion, function and fit. Knix Wear is company that was born from listening and we are driven by the belief that by listening to what our customers want, instead of telling them what they need is the key to success.
We involve our target consumers throughout the entire development process. Wear testing the products on women of all different shapes and sizes and incorporating their feedback. This carries forward to our success with crowdfunding. We leverage the data and information that we get from our target customers to make sure that we are making the styles, sizes, colours etc that they are looking for. This enables us to make smart decisions and to deliver a product that our target customer will love.
Finally, I think in terms of branding we are becoming an industry leader. We create products that are for women, by women and that speaks to the way that we communicate to our customers. We were one of (if not the first) lingerie brand to use real women in our photoshoots instead of models, and we are creating brand fans by marketing our products in a way that is real, authentic and relatable.
Who or what has influenced you (book, movie, person, other company/organization)?
I am definitely influenced by Sarah Blakely of Spanx in terms of her ability to take an industry by storm and disrupt a category. I can appreciate her hands on approach to product development and innovation.
From a brand stand point, I am a massive fan of the cycling brand Rafa for their ability to not just make products, but to build a community.
What key qualities do you look for in their team?
Resourcefulness has to be number one, as well as ambitious people who are up for a challenge. We have to push ourselves every day and the future is still unclear. In many cases we are pushing traditional boundaries and so someone who is resourceful and a good problem solver is key.
The other thing I hire for is or is necessary is passion. My team is so passionate about what we are doing. There is a level of energy and excitement in our office that you just can’t fake.
Finally, I hire for people who are humble and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. If the garbage cans needs to be emptied….you empty it. If a light bulb needs to be changed, you change it. It may sound funny but that is the reality of working at a start up.
Words of advice for others growing their business/organization?
The biggest lesson that I have learned is not to be afraid to ask for help. Know yourself and what you are good at….as well as what you are NOT good at. It’s remarkable to me how many people are happy and eager to help,
Other tid bits:
There is no such thing as work-life balance. Only work-life rhythm. Running your own business sometimes it feels like the work will never end. What’s important is that when you do have a moment to breathe you spend it with your friends and family that have loved and supported you.
If you don’t understand the costs, you don’t understand the business. Doesn’t matter what kind of business your run, you have to understand the costs or you will never succeed. My INSEAD management account professor Haydn Pound taught me that and it is probably my most valuable take away from business school
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