Never Underestimate the Value of What You Have to Offer, Says This Entrepreneur
Caroline Gogolak, founder and CEO of Saint Art, offers the keys to getting your dream project off the ground.
Who are you and what’s your business?
Caroline Gogolak, and I am the founder and CEO of Saint Art.
What inspired you to build this company?
I have been thinking about the concept of Saint Art for the last five years. I am obsessed with streetwear and have been watching the movement and how it relates to all aspects of culture and fashion. Living in SoHo and being a longtime New Yorker, I have observed this shift in dressing for the last decade. I find that street fashion is very symbolic of American fashion. It is a new form of styling that will define this new generation. Personally, I find street fashion to be very focused on the male consumer. Saint Art is genderless yet speaks to romanticism and feminism in both the palette and silhouettes of the assortment. Saint Art is American street fashion for everyone.
What has been your biggest challenge during the pandemic and how did you pivot to overcome it?
There were opportunities yet challenges with building a team virtually. I was able to hire talent worldwide (a plus) — from New York City to Los Angeles to Paris. That said, creating a strong culture and communication structure is difficult in a Zoom environment. We are excited to open a retail store and office in the fall to help propel our community and brand while exhibiting our company's core values when it comes to sustainability and changing the fashion system.
What advice would you give entrepreneurs looking for funding?
My advice is to be persistent and have confidence that you can build something on your own. Never underestimate the value of what you have to offer. Capital helps, but it will come if you can be creative. Profitability over top-line growth should always be the key. When you are pitching, always say the pitch to yourself before pitching to others even if you have pitched hundreds of times. I view this as a warmup period. All professional athletes warm up!
What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?
The word entrepreneur means thinking outside the box. Entrepreneurs are always challenging the normal and predictable. It took me five years to figure out that the only way to build a brand today would be to alter the first-mile supply chain. I had to relearn everything as a merchant and product developer. At Saint Art, if we were conforming to the traditional fashion system, we would not be able to execute our vision. We had to completely alter the business model for us to build a brand that speaks to the customer today while equally addressing sustainability head-on.
What is something many aspiring business owners think they need that they really don't?
Experts and hires that have years of experience do not necessarily have all the answers — especially when you are trying to write your own playbook.
Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?
"Have no regrets." This is a personal quote that I have always told myself. Chip Wilson, the founder of lululemon, said it in a different way: “Balance is maximizing every moment in life.”