The CEO of Anatomie Kate Boyer and Creative Director Shawn Boyer Talk: Obstacles of Building a Clothing Brand, and Designing Clothing for All Body Types


About Kate & Shawn Boyer 

I was first introduced to the global brand Anatomie in the summer of 2019. That’s when I met the founders: Kate is the CEO, and Shawn is the Creative Director. I was impressed with their clothing. Not many brands fit like a glove and wore like one. Anatomie was luxurious in a different way from competitor designer brands I bought. Before I knew it, I owned half of their light weight, no wrinkle collection, which I wore for different occasions: work, date night, working out and travel: even though Anatomie was initially recognized as an athleasiure brand.

I received so many compliments, I knew it wasn’t just me who loved Anatomie. Travel and Leisure called them the “best travel pants on the market,” and Forbes Travel Guide named Anatomie one of its 2019 Brand Officials. That’s when I reached out to Kate to do this interview. If the world was asking about their clothing, I had to share it with everyone I knew.  

I learned Kate and Shawn are very busy entrepreneurs with a lot of success, and an even brighter future ahead. When I spoke to Kate I could hear the multifaceted business savvy woman she was. She was born to be an entrepreneur. Educated, sophisticated and on top of everything. She proves you can have it all: career, wife and children. Since Kate had a fully packed day, and in the car between meetings, we got straight to the point. She didn’t spare details on any of my questions. After our call I sent her over a few more questions for this interview. Within an hour she responded to my email.

Kate was more than a boss, she was a serious business owner, efficient and didn’t miss an opportunity to capitalize on anything. Kate made things happen right now! I have never spoken with a more professional or inspiring person. 

When I spoke to Kate over the holidays, and again last week, she was sitting at the airport waiting for another flight. She and Shawn are unstoppable: a mastermind and visionary behind a well suited brand in the luxury market. My conversation with Kate carried me into the New Year fired up ready for 2020.

Kate and Shawn exude the confidence every entrepreneur wants: in life and business. They proved to me in order to achieve success, you have to hold your own with the best. Kate and Shawn are definitely the elite, and I am the lucky one who got the opportunity to hear about their journey, and inspire you with this interview.

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1. For aspiring entrepreneurs like myself, tell us a little about what your workday usually looks like? 

Kate: Early start as my daughter wakes us up around 6 am everyday! We cuddle and I make breakfast for her: while she eats and watches a movie I get to work out. I either go for a run if my husband is still at home, or I am in front of my workout videos for 20 mins a day everyday. We get ready for school and work, and I prepare her lunchbox daily, too. Meetings start nonstop and our team always needs me: a line in front of my office daily if I’m not headed to the airport for a business trip. I finish around 6pm if I’m in Miami, and pick her up and we go play outside. I cook dinner and then while she takes a bath I finish work — and pick that up again after everyone is asleep. That gives me a head start for the next day. There is a time difference with most suppliers and board members so I’m 24/7/365. On the road I spend mornings and evenings with clients, investors, partners or prospects. 

2. How did you meet your husband Shawn and at what moment did you two decide to create Anatomie together? 

Kate: Shawn was designing menswear when I travelled through Miami to do my first US tradeshow. A friend of his introduced us who was working for me as model. We connected over private label projects. About a year into working together the love story developed, and I moved to Miami from France ( actually St Barths ). We have been likeminded about the vision of the look and feel of sportswear from the beginning, as we both have athletic backgrounds. In our second year he called me up while I worked a tradeshow in Paris to change the name of our company to Anatomie . I “corrected“ the spelling from the Y to the sexy European version. We saved enough from previous jobs, and we found a friend to finance a start. We were ready to do our own thing. We saw the future, and we still do ! 🙂 Even though Shawn and I are like art and science, pictures and numbers, total opposites. Our one bedroom office turned into a 2 bedroom unit, then 2 x 2 bedrooms, then a warehouse, then a bigger warehouse. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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3. In the beginning you traveled to hundreds of trunk shows around the country to introduce Anatomie — which must have been challenging with a new brand. Did you already have investors at that point?

Kate: No, it was just us hustling and selling; growing step by step literally one customer at a time. Our first investor ( still with us ) came in 2 years later, and our second small round came from customers in 2015. An angel investor group formed, also mostly from customers, and we closed the first official series A in 2019. I`m already working on the next one! 

4. You have a tremendous amount of organic press from credible publications such as Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and Condé Nast Traveler, Good Housekeeping magazine. Even celebrities Madonna and Jamie Lee Curtis swear by the brand. How did that impact sales and brand awareness.

Kate: We also have powerful successful woman like Sheila Johnson , Judge Judy, Jill Zarin and many others wearing the clothes: these ladies know and appreciate the value, comfort and style we offer along with the quality and fit Anatomie is famous for. We do not use their names in our campaigns on purpose. They buy Anatomie because it works and serves their lifestyle. The magazines help as the industry takes notice: we are building a global brand and the affiliation to luxury publications, happening in an organic way is key to validating what we are pioneering on the market. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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5. As a woman entrepreneur, I know it is tough to be successful. What are someone of the obstacles that you have faced and overcome in your career to get to where you are now?

Kate: People tend to judge the book by the cover… I`m a skinny former gymnast with a funny accent from Hungary – mixed with French! You can imagine our first investor meetings being half the age of others around the table. Everyone looking at my husband for answers about financials while I have an MBA with a math major, and he is the true creative designer who can draw and sew. We heard no so many times I stopped hearing it and just moved on. Now add a baby to that conversation and you start hearing even more negative comments. The only thing you can do is prove everyone wrong by being successful: that is what I am committed to doing. You have to be good at multitasking and making smart decisions without sleep haha! Staying on the course and believing in what you are doing is key. The road is full of skeptics. What kept me going to the next level is our customer base: they elevate the product, the brand and our lives daily. I am very very grateful for that. Do not linger over decisions: it’s better to make the move and learn if its a mistake, than not keep trying.. 

6. Anatomie is sold in more than 400 speciality stores, private clubs, resorts, golf shops and spas nationwide. At what point did you feel like the brand was a success?

Kate: When our e-commerce grew 280% year over a year. When the Forbes Tavel Guide recognized us. When I look at the repeat clients growing wholesale or retail, and the comments and pictures sent to us on Instagram. It`s constant work to keep innovating and creating a top of the mind brand. Our customers are smart, and so is Anatomie for them. The customers determine when a brand is a success. We love being part of their journeys!

 

 
 
 
 
 
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7. Is there any advice you would give aspiring entrepreneurs who are just starting out, or those who are struggling to turn their dreams into reality? 

Kate: My little grandma said it takes a dreamer, a rich man, and a business man to turn your dreams into reality.  She was not wrong! You have to know which one you are in that mix and find the other two of the puzzle! You have to execute the dream so it becomes a reality. If you feel it you have to see it done, then you have to find your way to make it come to life. You cannot do it alone. As we grew the team grew: we are now a team of 20 from 13 countries and 9 languages spoken in our office in Miami! We are doing it together. Build a team who supports and understands your dream, and find a way to make them be part of it. Find financing as soon as possible: I waited too long. Many people do not realize we have been around for over a decade! I am lucky to have married the dreamer in this mix. That`s not part of my advice though, families rarely work well together. If that happens, make sure you keep the relationship professional in the office, and in front of partners. 

8. What’s next for Anatomie?  

Kate: More aggressive targeted marketing, more pop-up locations worldwide, a men`s capsule and more partnership with luxury brands such as Amex. Brands with a focus on solution oriented smart clothing that not only simplifies your life and reduces stress, but is also good for the planet! We are excited to have launched with the new Ritz Carlton yacht and some other Starboard managed high end ships. We are secretly working with the 2020 Olympic Committee as well. We developed our skillsets to raise capital and work with a board, and we are now ready to make Anatomie the most loved luxury travel brand in the world! I feel we will never stop learning and evolving.

9.  What I love most about Anatomie is the versatility of the clothing. Although the brand was designed for athleisure wear I wear the clothing to work, for pleasure and I recently even wore an outfit to breathwork class (where I received tons of compliments). Did your consumers inspire or dictate your focus on designing primarily athleisure — luxury travel wear? 

Shawn: That is a great question. Our customers are the most dynamic ladies on planet earth. They are the ones that made us evolve from activewear to designer travel wear. They told us that Anatomie was their favorite “travel brand.” They felt comfortable and put together. It was a very strong message from all of our customers; it was clear to us. They were using Anatomie in a very different way than we expected. But it was the best thing that ever happened to us. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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10. You started out designing customized clothing for hard-to-fit athletic men while bodybuilding. Did you have experience designing clothing at that time, or did you teach yourself? 

Shawn: I’m self-taught. It was out of necessity because I could not find clothes that fit.I started working out when I was 11 years old; I was 220 pounds in College. I was in great shape but looked horrible in off the rack clothing. My great grandmother died. I took her sewing machine and started testing my designer skills. I have the battle scars to prove it. I don’t know how many times I sewed through my finger. 😉

11. How did you come up with the idea of no dry cleaning, no ironing, wash and go easy care?

Shawn: Our DNA from the start is performance textiles. It’s been there since day one. I was thinking about tailoring, not regular workout wear, That’s why they say we are the brand between Lulu Lemon and Prada Sport. We are made in designer brand factories next to Armani, Hugo Boss, Porche Design and Montclair.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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12. For someone unfamiliar with your brand who might be discouraged by the price point how would you explain the quality and overall luxury?

Shawn: Simple. The cost is in the European textiles. We use the same textiles as Hugo Boss, Prada, and some very cool Japanese brands. We want to use the best fabrics. We are working on an online capsule collection at a better price point for the future. Our core customers want the European made garments. We are exploring Asian textiles made in Asia for a Diffusion line: 2020 test Capsule. We have an idea for travel kit bundles and kit for safari’s.

13. Do you and Kate have plans to expand into luxury travel luggage?

Shawn: We have so much room to grow with our collection and menswear. It will be a while unless we find a partner who will license our name for this category.

14. I love the men’s, Alessio Pant. How soon before we see an entire men’s collection?

Shawn: We have a mini collection coming out in 2020. Three jackets and three pants. We are keeping it simple to start. Men’s is my background, and I’m excited to get back to my roots. It’s time.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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15. For people just starting a business, they spend a great deal of time focused on brand development. I love the spelling of your brand Anatomie and the playoff of “anatomy” for an athleisure—luxury travel wear. However, your logo (square peg round hole) is clever. Where did that idea originate?

Shawn: Very simple answer. My Favorite Italian, Leanardo Da Vinci, is the renaissance father of Anatomy. So the Vitruvian man is our logo: circle and square. Da Vinci was the one who perfectly translated art and science. Hence our art is fashion, and the technical fabric is science.;) Kate went to France for University, her request was we spell it the French way to keep with her European roots.

 

 

 

 

monikafreeman

is the CEO of www.monikafreeman.com. She also works as a Creative Director, Writer, Brand Strategist and Fashion Editor.

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