Bold Broads highlights women founders and creative [read: BADASS] small business owners about how they really deal with the ups and downs of running a BOLD business. These women share honest wisdom and tough lessons to support you in collectively making good shit happen in your own women-led startup or small business. Meet Evelyn Frison cofounder of Pivotte. Pivotte is low-maintenance clothing for high-performing women.
Let's meet her, shall we?
1. STARTING A BUSINESS IS HARD AND SOMETIMES LONELY. WHAT THE F*CK MOTIVATED YOU TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
Having a genuine interest in solving problems within the women's apparel space and having an amazing partner with the same interest. Honestly, I wouldn't have done this alone - we encourage and keep each other accountable. The risk of starting your own business can be overwhelming, but the two previously mentioned points are what prompted me to start and what keeps me going. Additionally, when I thought about the financial risk, my conclusion was that starting my business was a trade-off for business school. What better way to learn about business than by starting one!?
2. HOW DO YOU STAY MOTIVATED TO KEEP THRIVING IN A CREATIVE SPACE WHERE EVERYONE SEEMS TO ONE-UP EACH OTHER?
I use various tactics to stay motivated in a crowded space. I may reframe the competitive landscape and provide my own narrative against it; It's only "one-upping" if you treat it as such. I take stories, provide my own analysis around them, then use the key takeaways to my own advantage (i.e. learnings). When I do get competitive, this can be a source of motivation too. For example, if I see a competitor getting great press - I use that to drive my energy to do the same for Pivotte. Regardless of the tactics, I choose to employ on a given day, the one consistent thing that I try to remind myself about is what is actually in my control. I also keep in mind that I can’t afford to let what others do negatively influence my analysis and business decisions. Sometimes you have to put blinders on and push through the work you set out to do.
3. SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSES ARE OFTEN QUIETLY SUPPORTED BY A COLLECTIVE OF WOMEN MENTORS, FRIENDS AND BUSINESS OWNERS. WHAT COMMUNITIES AND RESOURCES HAVE BEEN MOST PIVOTAL TO YOUR OWN BUSINESS SUCCESS?
Dreamers // Doers was crucial to the success Pivotte so far. This is an organization that I’m really proud to be a part of; it’s very community-driven and members are active and really engaged in each other’s businesses and lives. Members shared ideas, resources, feedback, products, and services that allowed us to evolve and grow. My partner obviously but also supportive friends who have been there from the beginning - they not only bought into Kickstarter but offer feedback, help at photo shoots and spread the word. Our customers have been amazing, becoming loyal consumers, and being understanding when we make mistakes. Without them, we wouldn’t have a business. We, at Pivotte, recognize we are very lucky to have the support that we do.
4. NO BULLSH*T; WHAT'S THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS? AND EQUALLY IMPORTANT; HOW ARE YOU WORKING TO OVERCOME THIS?
Money. Fashion is a capital intensive business, and you need to front the money to get products made before *potentially* earning it back. Also, money is needed for marketing. Originally, we overcame this by launching a Kickstarter and scrupulously saving and using our own funds. We are currently still self-funded, but definitely, need to think about the next few financial steps to scale the way that we want to. We are looking into other options, including taking out a small business loan, seeking investment, etc.
5. SHARE THE MOST HELPFUL PIECE OF ADVICE YOU'VE EVER BEEN GIVEN.
Don't take no for an answer. My mother taught me this. How I’ve chosen to interpret it is to be skeptical of other people and their feedback. Not skeptical in the sense that I don’t listen or take advice or recommendations, but skeptical in that I trust my instincts and know not to accept all advice at face value. I do research and experiment. Many people will tell you that your idea isn't going to work or that there are too many obstacles to overcome. But be (a bit) skeptical and do your research. You’ll get the answers you need to make good decisions for yourself and your company. Keep digging!
I UNAPOLOGETICALLY OWN MY BOLD BROAD BADASSERY BECAUSE...
My apparel company, Pivotte, has a mission to help women build a wardrobe that inspires confidence. We produce stylish, low-maintenance clothing for driven women, using advanced, sustainable fabrics and manufacturing right in NYC. Historically, women’s clothing has been designed to mainly be decorative–unlike men’s clothing which always seems to consider both style and function. This was incredibly frustrating to me. I also wanted clothing that was equally fashionable and functional - things that would look good on, but one could also move freely in. I *didn’t* want what I mostly found in women’s clothing - restrictive, delicate and hard to manage items. My partner and I couldn’t find what we were looking for so we made it. Our clothes are polished, but really comfortable and easy to take care of, i.e. machine washable. This messaging is important because we acknowledge that fashion has an impact on our lives, but it shouldn’t control it. When you step out knowing you look and feel good, you’re ready for anything, and you don’t have to worry about your clothes. That’s the kind of confidence that allows you to get shit done.
BOLD BROAD BONUS***FAVE APP?
Google docs and drive. The way it enhances collaboration and can use it as a repository for all business information is incredible. I also have all the apps downloaded on my phone - which I use frequently. This may not be the newest or "most interesting" piece of technology, but it is the most functional!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Evelyn is the Cofounder of Pivotte. Pivotte is low-maintenance clothing for high-performing women. Along with cofounder Yehua Yang, Evelyn created Pivotte to support driven women with demanding schedules, challenge the tradition of making women’s clothing merely decorative and not functional, and lead efforts in sustainable fashion.