DREAM CATCHER: KATE NOWLAN AND KIMBERLY CACCAVO
Kate Nowlan’s multifaceted career has included being an athletic trainer, athlete, event coordinator, and entrepreneur. Kimberly Caccavo is an engineer and MBA who has done everything from design a turbine blade for the space shuttle to helping to privatize a telephone company in Venezuela. The two crossed paths when Kimberly relocated to San Diego and hired Kate as her son’s swim coach. She ultimately hired Kate to be her own coach to help her prepare for a triathlon. The conversations they had over long training runs often centered on the lack of workout apparel that was both high-performance and flattering, especially for running and water sports. They decided that their combined talents of athletic expertise and business experience made them a powerful team and GRACEDBYGRIT was born. The name derives from their shared experience of going through major life events that forced them to learn what they were truly made of. They believe that all women go through moments that could make or break them and that it is the grit we show in those moments that often give us grace. GRACEDBYGRIT offers a complete line of athletic apparel that is flattering, unique, and high-performing. Each piece is UPF 50+ and even comes with a safety whistle. The line can be purchased on their website and in their first retail shop, which opens in Solana Beach, California, this Friday.
How did your former career prepare you for running your own business? Kate: I was a jack of all trades. Being a mom, running coach, swim coach, administrator, and fundraiser gave me a bit of knowledge in a lot of different things. Ultimately, I love people and love learning new things and figuring out how to handle whatever comes my way. Starting my own business is essentially an extension of that. Kimberly: I learned how to think logically and make quick decisions
What was the biggest obstacle that you had to overcome before launching your business? Kate:Confidence in myself. Kimberly: Everyone told us that we were nuts to take on the big boys.
How long were you in business before you started to see real growth? What do you attribute that to? Kate: We incorporated in January 2013 and started selling in September of that year. Those nine months were a hard push. Kimberly: Our growth is tied to our reach into the athletic community. Trunk shows have really helped us.
How did you fund your dream? Kate: I have a kick-ass business partner who is an experienced businesswoman with the smarts to lead the way with funding. Kimberly: We tried to get an SBA loan. We thought it was a no-brainer: two female partners, one over 50 and the other a single mom. But they denied us. We have self-funded. And we were lucky enough to meet a great banker who gave us a loan.
How do you organize your day to best optimize your time? Describe a day in your life. Both: We are both up every day at 5:15 for a standing daily conference call with each other at 5:30. What we accomplish in that hour is worth three hours of work that we don’t have later in the day.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be… Kate: I can’t imagine doing anything else. Kimberly:Learning to dance.
Five years from now I see myself and my company… Kate: Watching my oldest daughter graduate from high school, being excited to get up everyday because GRAECEDBYGRIT is a household name, and hopefully getting more sleep. Kimberly: A major force in the women’s athletic apparel industry. I hope that we have made women feel better about themselves and want to work out more.
The key to balancing it all is… Kate: I don’t have that answer. For me, it is asking for help and appreciating time for myself. Kimberly: A great and supportive family. My husband is amazing. I had to work on Mother’s Day so my whole family went with me.
If I had to do it all over again I would… Both: Do it all over again.
The most important thing I have learned so far… Kate: To be grateful for every moment and every small accomplishment. Kimberly: Pick a FANTASTIC partner, hire AMAZING people, and don’t be afraid of HARD work.
LET’S GET PERSONAL:
I am most proud of… Kate: My daughters. Kimberly: My family.
My favorite getaway is… Kate: My family’s lake house in Upstate NY. Kimberly: Big Sky, Montana.
I try to achieve mindfulness by… Kate: Taking time for myself. Sometimes an impossible feat. Kimberly: Taking a step back and looking at the big picture.
My favorite non-business book is… Kate: To Kill a Mockingbird. Kimberly: Boy, that is hard…there are so many good books out there starting with the bible. One of the few books I love to re-read is Michael Crichton’s book on Jasper Johns.
One talent I wish I had is… Kate: To sleep for 8 hours straight. Kimberly: The ability to sing.
A woman who inspires me is… Kate: My mother. She has endless energy and balance. Kimberly:May I say women? Madame Curie, my late Aunt Rose, my Mom, and my daughter.
Kate: "It is all who you know"
Kimberly: "Be good"
One thing I hope to pass along to my children is… Kate: Humor and the ability to laugh in the tough moments and then move on. Kimberly: To be kind to others.