Welcome to All In, where we sit down with some of the most inspiring people in the wellness industry to find out how they got their start, their successes and their struggles, and their top advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. Up next: Joanna Griffiths, founder of intimate apparel brand on a mission, Knix.
Can you recall the first inspiration you had to start your own business?
It began with a conversation with my mom about eight years ago, about the struggles women face at various points in their lives, particularly all of the changes that women experience during pregnancy and post pregnancy. It was then that I discovered that one in three women can leak a little when they laugh or sneeze or exercise. I knew from that moment that I wanted to create a product that was designed specifically for women’s bodies, that would actually better their lives. From there, Knix was born!
What were some of your early challenges?
As all entrepreneurs know, launching is startup is hard work! It comes with a lot of challenges, and you really need to focus and listen to your gut. In inventing a new product that didn’t exist, it was really difficult at first to find the right manufacturing partners that were up for the challenge. I am still to this day haunted by the blank stares and confused faces that I would see as I would share what I was trying to make.
Fortunately, it only takes one person to believe in you and make the difference, so after a lot of no’s and really bad prototypes I finally found the right partner to manufacture the product. There were a lot of ups and downs at first, but that’s all part of the startup journey.
What are some challenges you still face today?
I still face a lot of challenges – all entrepreneurs do. But the thing I’ve learned over the years is that I actually do really well with a challenge. When I push myself outside of my comfort zone, that’s sort of where I learn and I thrive, which has been crucial to being an entrepreneur.
Were you also working a full time job when you launched Knix (as a side hustle) or did you go full-force into the new business?
I was studying my MBA at INSEAD in France in 2011 when I came up with the idea for Knix. While I was completing my MBA, I won the Women’s Award for Entrepreneurship and the Business Venture Competition for Knix, securing $20,000 to launch the business.
Post school, I headed back to Toronto and worked part time at the CBC while I made progress with Knix on the side. I passed the inflection point towards the end of 2012. In 2013, when I saw that my day job was holding me back from making progress on Knix, I started Knix full-time.
As the sole founder of your company, did you make a conscious decision to go into business without a partner? If so, why, and how has the decision to go that route been both rewarding and challenging?
It wasn’t so much a conscious choice as it was my reality. I came up with the idea on my own, and I knew I had an unprecedented amount of passion for it in order to enable me to bring it to life. It is always challenging to feel like you are charting your own course, faced with hundreds of small and large-scale decisions on a regular basis, so it is important to surround yourself with smart people you respect and look up to, and to regularly have a sounding board to bounce ideas off of. Those people will also help you remember to look back and celebrate the wins to ensure it is consistently rewarding.
Launching – and then running – your own business can be overwhelming. What are some of your top tips?
Perfect your elevator pitch, do your homework, and most importantly, be yourself. Let your personality and passion for your business shine through. Finally, attach yourself to a mission or cause that is bigger than you. It will make the tough days just that little bit easier and give you a reason to fight for what you believe in.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given as it relates to running your own business?
Make something that people need and want. It is so important to identify who your end customer is, and meet with them and understand their pain points. Without that, you’re just trying to sell something that no one wants.
About Your Company:
One of the first things we learn about starting a successful business is that you have to relieve a pain point for the public. What was the problem you set out to solve with your company and how have you solved it?
I identified two things when I was initially thinking about Knix: women wanted better products designed specifically for their bodies and not just for leaks, and also that women were really craving a brand that represented them for who they were, and made them feel comfortable and confident.
We’ve seen tremendous growth year over year, and now, a Knix product is sold every 10 seconds! This shows me that we’ve successfully done what we set out to do: create intimates that make women feel powerful, valuable, and amazing, exactly as they are.
Let’s talk about the new Catalyst bra that’s been years in the making. Why was it important to you to make a better sports bra?
There is no product more difficult to create than the high impact sports bra and for that reason, there haven’t been a ton of new entrants. If you look at the history of the sports bra, almost every major innovation has been created by female led companies. As leaders in innovation we knew that we had an important role to play.
The sports bra category is one where size inclusivity is perhaps the most needed, as there are very few options for women outside of the A to D cup range. I really wanted to create something different and create an all-inclusive sports bra. No one woman should ever be ashamed of her body or feel ostracized from running or other activities due to the shortage in bra sizes – The Catalyst is now here to change that – we hope that by bringing a best-in-class product to the market and in a broader size range, we will create a catalyst for change
We love that a huge part of Knix’s marketing and messaging is about body positivity and featuring women of all shapes and sizes. Tell us why featuring real women – not just models – is important to you when marketing Knix.
One of our main goals is to “knix” insecurities, taboos, and boundaries through category-disrupting intimates that offer women something new. We’ve partnered with over 500 women since creating the brand in 2013, and we’ve shot women of all shapes and sizes. Seeing these women really trust trust us as a brand to tell their story has been incredibly inspiring. We think all women are powerful, valuable, and amazing, exactly as they are, and it’s important that our marketing reflects that.