On Monday, I highlighted Sold Out NYC, my new collection of sweatshirts that I wear every. single. day… — they are just so easy, comfortable, and good looking! Today, we meet the gorgeous, smart, and talented co-founders Kiane and Kate. Take a look, and thank you Kiane and Kate — you are such empowering and inspirational women!!!
How did you come up with the concept of the brand?
I was producing a fashion event in the Hamptons and was lacking a basics brand to complete the mix. I hunted around but there was nothing that truly turned me on. I figured why not just create exactly what I wanted. I called Kate from the beach and casually asked if she “wanted to make some statement tees for an event”. She was all in and that escalated quickly. By the afternoon we had a domain, an insta account and a brand name. Kate is a creative director and I have a strategy consulting background – so it was never going to be just “making a few tees”.
Why the statements? Because we all need some positivity at this time in the world. We are both Aussies so by default, positivity is part of our DNA. Also, there could not be a more perfect time for woman to have a voice. We want them to feel proud of what they’re saying and look great while doing it.
What is the meaning of the name?
The name is an extension of the brand itself, a simple product truth.
We didn’t want to be driven by existing fashion seasons; we wanted the customers to drive the new product timing themselves. What we produce is deliberately limited edition, so once it’s Sold Out, it is time to move on to the next thing. In today’s landscape it works perfectly for us and for the customer – we can respond to change quickly, and they get to see lots of new and relevant product.
I know that you two are great longtime friends — has it been hard or easy to work together? Who does what?
Obviously everyone has their moments, but there is almost nothing a laugh and a glass of wine can’t solve! In saying that, there are a few things that really help. First, we have almost perfectly complimentary skill sets so there is a natural division of labor. We implicitly know who will be doing what when we walk out of a meeting. Second (and oh so important), we have 100% trust in one another’s execution. Third, when we are together we are super focused. Given commitments to our families and other projects we know this is non-negotiable. Oh – and we are also absolutely not afraid to get our hands dirty. Plenty of people in the neighborhood have sighted us lugging mannequins to fashion events or hauling boxes of inventory. There is absolutely no room for preciousness – especially in the beginning.
In terms of the sweatshirts, how did you come up with the phrases on them? The fonts? The colors? What is the design process like?
It is certainly a process. The phrases come first. When this occurs there is absolutely wine and there is absolutely cheese. We start brainstorming and let it ruminate before we start to narrow down the list. Fonts and color come next –that’s the fun part, although still a process. It is definitely not quick and it evolves dramatically. We are both perfectionists. Kate once sent me a palette of about 15 pinks to choose from and she hadn’t slept thinking about it. I swear they were exactly the same!
Family and friends are incredible for feedback. We’ll often think we have come up with something brilliant, share it with a few friends and quickly realize – not so much. Befriend us and you are on the hook for multiple texted opinion requests. You have been warned!
You did tees first, now sweatshirts… what is the next product?
Oh how I wish we could tell you! We can’t give everything away.
Who is your customer and how do they hear about you?
Our customer is a woman who is comfortable having a voice. She is equally stylish and passionate about comfort (we both live in tees and sweatshirts). She definitely has a sense of humor.
How to hear about it: Instagram will give you everything you need to know about the product and a very strong sense of our brand voice (follow us @soldout.nyc – it’s a laugh and hopefully even an occasional snort).
What has been the biggest reward of starting the business together? The biggest challenge?
The biggest reward: how into it our kids are. They love feeling like there are a part of things. Stacking inventory, “designing” tees. My son’s current life goal is to save for a truck and be the Sold Out delivery guy.
The biggest challenge: time, it is always time. Luckily this business gives us total flexibility. We can go to the school play and put the kids to bed and do the work wherever it fits in between. I will admit though that Kate is a ferocious night owl and worker. A text asking for an opinion at 2am is absolutely not uncommon!
You are both mothers, how do you squeeze the business into your life? And will there be a kids’ capsule at some point?
With great difficulty and a really good attitude! We are both roll-up-our-sleeves kind of gals so we just get it done.
Kids’ capsule – yes, very much yes. Our kids are insisting on it. My daughter asked me if we can attempt to shrink an adult sweatshirt in the dryer for her.
What are your dreams for the company? Do you want to sell to boutique stores, department stores, or straight to the consumer?
The larger objective is to drive a successful, direct-to-consumer business, but we are never going to say no to a sensational wholesale opportunity.
As long as we continue to have fun and create a product that is resonating to women, we’re in it to win it.
Which sweatshirt is your current favorite? And your favorite way to style them?
For me, Femme Féroce. I love the sentiment and am a sucker for red and navy. I love wearing that one tucked into slouchy leather pants with a red lip, a big earring and heels.
Kate loves Je Ne Sais Quoi. She rocks it with a sparkly skirt and heels or a sweatshirt / jeans / runners combo. It’s always killer.
The great new is that sweatshirts and t-shirts are no longer just that. There are no parameters these days for how they can be worn. Don’t be afraid to get creative.