Caroline Gogolak, founder and CEO of Saint Art, offers the keys to your dream project.
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In this ongoing series, we share advice, tips, and insights from real entrepreneurs who find themselves in the business battle on a daily basis. (The answers have been edited and summarized for the sake of clarity.)
Who are you and what is your business?
Caroline Gogolak, and I am the founder and CEO of Saint Art.
What inspired you to build this company?
I've been thinking about the concept of Saint Art for the past five years. I am obsessed with streetwear and watch the movement and how it relates to all aspects of culture and fashion. Since I live in SoHo and have been a New Yorker for many years, I've seen this change in clothing over the past decade. I think street fashion is very symbolic of American fashion. It's a new form of styling that will define this new generation. Personally, I find street fashion very geared towards the male consumer. Saint Art is genderless but appeals to romance and feminism in both the palette and silhouettes of the range. Saint Art is American street fashion for everyone.
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What was your biggest challenge during the pandemic and how did you move to overcome it?
There were opportunities, but also challenges, when building a team virtually. I've been able to hire talent around the world (a plus) – from New York City to Los Angeles to Paris. However, it is difficult to create a strong culture and communication structure in a zoom environment. We're excited to open a retail store and office this fall to help fuel our community and brand while showcasing our company's core values of sustainability and changing the fashion system.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking for funding?
My advice is to be persistent and trust that you can build something yourself. Never underestimate the value of your offer. Capital helps, but it will come if you can be creative. Profitability over sales growth should always be the key. When pitching, always tell yourself first before presenting to others, even if you've pitched hundreds of times. I consider this a warm-up period. All professional athletes warm up!
What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?
The word entrepreneur means to think outside the box. Entrepreneurs always challenge the normal and predictable. It took me five years to figure out that the only way to build a brand today is to change the supply chain on the first mile. As a businessman and product developer, I had to learn everything from scratch. If we followed the traditional fashion system at Saint Art, we would not be able to achieve our vision. We had to completely change the business model in order to build a brand that today appeals to customers and at the same time appeals to sustainability.
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What do many aspiring entrepreneurs think they need what they really don't need?
Experts and long-time professionals don't necessarily have all the answers – especially when you're trying to write your own playbook.
Is there a specific quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?
"Regret nothing." This is a personal quote that I've always said to myself. Chip Wilson, the founder of lululemon, put it another way: "Balance maximizes every moment in life."