August 2, 2023

From Personal Struggle to Empowering Triumph: The Everviolet Revolution

A Journey of Resilience and Empowerment, Redefining Women's Post-Surgery Experience.

In this exclusive interview, we bring you the inspiring story of Keira Kotler, the visionary founder and CEO of Everviolet, a brand that goes beyond intimate apparel to empower women on a profound level. As the editor of "ARTicles," I had the privilege of sitting down with Keira to uncover her journey as an entrepreneur and the powerful impact her brand has on women's lives worldwide.

Keira's personal journey started with a breast cancer diagnosis, igniting a deep desire to address the lack of comfortable and beautiful lingerie options for women post-surgery. Driven by passion and empathy, Keira founded Everviolet, aiming to create a collection that not only meets the physical needs of women but also celebrates their femininity and supports them throughout their recovery and beyond. Join us for an intimate look into Keira Kotler's path of growth, challenges, and unwavering commitment to making a difference. Her dedication to merging fashion with compassion exemplifies the transformative force of entrepreneurship, touching the lives of countless individuals.

Keira Kotler, the visionary founder and CEO of Everviolet

Chris Choi: Good morning, Keira! It's great to have you here with us today.

Keira Kotler: Good morning, Chris! Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be chatting with you today.

Chris Choi: Absolutely, Keira! Great to have you here too. Okay, let's dive in! So, tell me a bit about yourself and what sparked the idea for Everviolet? And how has your journey as an entrepreneur unfolded?

Keira Kotler: Sure, Chris. I'm Keira Kotler, the founder and CEO of Everviolet. My brand was born out of personal need, and my journey as an entrepreneur has been quite transformative. It all began when I received a breast cancer diagnosis unexpectedly, without any known risk factors or family history. The news was shocking and traumatic, but I consider myself to be lucky since it was detected at an early stage.

Following the diagnosis, I underwent a bilateral mastectomy followed by reconstructive surgery. They were pretty intense procedures, so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that getting dressed in the morning became one of the hardest aspects of the experience. I tried on 200 bras in a six-month period, but none of them were suitable for my needs. The existing post-surgery garments were unattractive and scratchy, and regular lingerie no longer fit or caused pain. I wanted to wear undergarments that were comfortable, well-fitting and pretty, and nothing like that existed.

This experience led me to start Everviolet. I wanted to create a collection that not only addressed the physical needs of women after breast surgery but also catered to their emotional and psychological well-being. I believe that looking and feeling beautiful during recovery is an essential part of healing, but there was a massive hole in the market that prevented women from doing so.

My journey as an entrepreneur has evolved significantly during this process. Initially, I felt the pressure to have all the answers and questioned myself when I faced new challenges for the first time. But very quickly, I learned to trust my gut instincts and gained more confidence in my decision-making. Finding the right business partner, Meghan, who brought extensive expertise in apparel manufacturing, was a huge gift as well. Combining my design aesthetic with her technical and sourcing abilities, we created a beautiful and adaptive collection to support women throughout their recovery journey and beyond.

Everviolet is on a mission to make women feel comfortable and beautiful in their own skin again.

Chris Choi: Wow, that's truly inspiring! Your personal journey led you to create something meaningful for others. So, when you had your first product or prototype ready, how did you find your initial customers? Also, finding a business partner can be a challenge. Could you share how you connected with Meghan, your business partner?

Keira Kotler: Of course, Chris. When we launched Everviolet in 2019, we focused on a specific target audience – women who were currently facing and in recovery from breast cancer, as well as long-term survivors (or as I like to call us, thrivers). Being part of an extraordinary support group called Bays (Bay Area Young Survivors), I had a ready-made community of women who became our initial customers and wear testing models. They also participated in our early focus groups and market research, providing valuable feedback.

In addition to the support group, word of mouth played a significant role in reaching potential customers. Surgeons and medical professionals helped spread the word about our products to their patients who were in need of comfortable and supportive post-surgery garments. Building a community around the brand was essential even before we had the first products. We focused on creating a strong social media presence and generating content related to health and wellness, particularly cancer-related topics. By offering valuable resources and information, we were able to connect with women when they needed us most and inform them about our collection, to support their recovery.

As for finding my business partner, Meghan, I actually never set out to find a partner. Rather I was intent on gathering as many smart people around me who knew things that I didn’t in order to assemble a stellar team. It was during that phase of networking that I met Meghan. She initially consulted for me, providing invaluable insights and knowledge around product development and sourcing, and helping me understand the complexities of the apparel industry better. Over time, our relationship evolved, and we realized that we complemented each other's strengths and shared a common passion around helping women. This led us to become great partners, with Meghan bringing her expertise in apparel manufacturing, product development and sourcing, while I focused on marketing, design and brand strategy and vision.

Chris Choi: Building that community of passionate and supportive customers is just brilliant! I'm really amazed at how you tapped into your support group and connected with medical professionals to spread the word about Everviolet. Word of mouth and genuine connections can work wonders, right? And having Meghan's expertise on board must have been a real game-changer for your brand. Now, I'm super curious about your marketing strategies. How do you promote your products, and how have your marketing approaches evolved over time?

Keira Kotler: In the early stages, we leaned heavily into marketing through medical channels. We wanted to spare women the hassle of having to shop for post-surgical garments in moments of acute stress, and enable them to try garments in the privacy of their own home.  This direct-to-consumer (DTC) model was well-suited for our brand, and it served us well, especially during the pandemic when online shopping was on the rise. Our marketing efforts were primarily focused on medical professionals, surgeons, nurse navigators, cancer centers, and cancer support groups. We provided them with information about our products so that their patients could learn about Everviolet from their trusted team. This approach allowed us to educate our target audience within the medical setting and inform them about specialized solutions available to meet their specific needs during recovery.

As our brand has grown, we have expanded our distribution channels to partner with large retailers such as Nordstrom and QVC.com, as well as small boutiques and specialty fitters. This omni-channel approach has enabled us to reach a wider audience and different customer segments. Additionally, we engage in affiliate marketing and participate in events and pop-ups to create brand awareness.

Our marketing strategy also involves providing complimentary fit consultations to customers, especially those who are unsure about their post-surgery garment requirements. By being hands-on with our customers, and learning first-hand about their unique needs, we are better able to address them and offer personalized support. I personally communicate with our customers every day, via email, live chat and on occasion Zoom.

Chris Choi: Your approach to marketing through medical channels to reach patients during their vulnerable moments is truly unique. The convenience of direct-to-consumer sales and personalized fit consultations undoubtedly contributed to your brand's success. It's impressive how you managed to expand your distribution channels and collaborate with renowned retailers like Nordstrom and QVC.com. Now, let's talk about challenges. What have been the major challenges you faced during the last three years as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome them?

Keira Kotler: One of the most significant challenges we encountered was the disruption of our supply chain during the pandemic. It was a stressful time, and we had to act quickly to find new partners to keep our production going. At the end of 2020, our factory in Los Angeles shut its doors, and it took about six months to establish a reliable supply chain in Mexico. This experience taught us the importance of diversifying our suppliers and being prepared for unexpected changes.

Another challenge was my lack of expertise in the apparel industry when I started Everviolet. As a first-time entrepreneur, I found myself questioning my decisions and constantly learning on the job. However, over time, I gathered a lot of intelligence, gained more confidence and learned to trust my instincts. Surrounding myself with knowledgeable and experienced people, like Meghan and my esteemed Advisory Board, have been crucial in navigating these challenges.

Lastly, the sheer size of the market and the diverse needs of our customers is an ongoing challenge. We are constantly receiving requests for different types of garments to address other conditions, and it’s impossible to solve every problem immediately. Managing customer expectations while striving to meet their unique needs has required careful communication and planning.

Chris Choi: Keira, it's seriously awesome how you handled that supply chain disruption and found a new partnership in Mexico. Being able to adapt and stay flexible is a superpower for entrepreneurs, and you've got it! I can only imagine how tough it must've been to dive into an industry you weren't familiar with, but ultimately, trusting your gut led you to some smart choices. And I totally get how meeting diverse customer needs can be challenging, but your dedication to understanding and serving them really sets Everviolet apart.

Now, I'm really curious - what keeps you going? What's your secret to staying motivated and inspired as you continue this exciting journey as an entrepreneur?

Keira Kotler: My motivation stems from the impact we make on the lives of our customers. When I see women try on our garments and witness the joy and comfort it brings them, it reaffirms the purpose of Everviolet. Every day, I receive heartfelt emails and notes of gratitude from women who feel beautiful and confident in our products, and that is incredibly rewarding.

Moreover, the opportunity to support women during times of change inspires me. Our goal is to serve as a bridge between the medical world and fashion, creating garments that not only address physical needs but that also empower women to embrace their femininity and feel comfortable in their bodies no matter what stage of life they are in. The feedback and stories we receive from our customers fuel my determination to expand and innovate.

Chris Choi: Your passion and dedication to making a positive impact on women's lives are truly commendable. Seeing how your products bring comfort and joy to your customers must be the best feeling in the world and probably keeps you fired up to keep going! I'm truly inspired by how Everviolet bridges medicine and fashion, meeting diverse needs, and empowering women to feel beautiful and confident.

So, let's talk about what's next! What are your big goals for this year, and can you give us a sneak peek into any exciting upcoming events from Everviolet? I'm sure our readers would love to know!

Keira Kotler: My primary goal for this year is to focus on fundraising. I believe that with the right capital, we can expand our reach and address the broader adaptive market which is massive. Our mission is to provide solutions not only for breast cancer thrivers but also for those with a myriad of other conditions – from GYN cancers to surgery, pregnancy to menopause, illness to disability, mobility issues to skin allergies. 

To achieve this goal, we are launching a crowdfunding campaign in early September, followed by a seed round of fundraising. The funds will enable us to expand our product line, replenish existing inventory and develop garments that cater to the diverse needs of women across various medical and surgical experiences.

Furthermore, we are excited to have just introduced a philanthropic program. As part of our desire to give back we are supporting nonprofits in the cancer space by donating a portion of our revenue to their initiatives. We strongly believe in supporting medical, service and research organizations and making a positive impact beyond our own brand.

Chris Choi: I can see how your ambitions are matched with genuine compassion. Raising capital to expand your product line and cater to the broader adaptive market is such an exciting step! And I must say, your dedication to supporting other nonprofits and giving back to the medical and research communities is beyond admirable. The way you blend innovation and social responsibility in your goals is truly something to be celebrated. Keep doing what you're doing, because it's making a real difference!

Keira Kotler: Thank you, Chris. We are passionate about making a difference and striving to create a positive impact in the lives of women. It has been a remarkable journey so far, and I am looking forward to the future with enthusiasm and determination.

Chris Choi: I have no doubt that Everviolet will continue to thrive and positively influence the lives of many women. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story and insights with us. It has been a pleasure talking to you and learning about your entrepreneurial journey.

Keira Kotler: Oh, thank you so much, Chris! I'm really excited to be a part of this interview and chat with you. It's incredible to have the chance to share our story and how Everviolet is making a difference for women post-surgery and with adaptive needs. I hope our journey can inspire others to join us in empowering women and promoting inclusivity.

Key Takeaways: Lessons of Empowerment and Entrepreneurship

Keira Kotler's journey as the founder and CEO of Everviolet offers invaluable lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs and advocates alike. 

First and foremost, her story emphasizes the significance of turning personal challenges into opportunities for positive change. Keira's deep connection to her own experience with breast cancer led her to identify an unmet need in the market and inspired her to create a brand that truly makes a difference in women's lives.

Secondly, Keira's relentless pursuit of her vision showcases the importance of resilience and determination in the face of obstacles. From the early stages of market testing to overcoming supply chain setbacks, Keira's unwavering dedication to her mission is a testament to the tenacity required to build a successful business.

Lastly, Everviolet's approach of building a community around the brand underscores the power of empathy and authentic connection. By actively engaging with medical professionals and support groups, Keira fostered a strong network that not only spread awareness but also offered essential support to women during their recovery journeys.

Through her transformative journey, Keira Kotler demonstrates that entrepreneurship can be a force for positive change, highlighting the profound impact that a passionate vision, resilience, and community-building can have on individuals and society as a whole.

If you want to stay inspired by Everviolet's journey and be the first to know about their exciting upcoming events, follow them on their social media channels! Join their community and be a part of the positive impact they're making on women's lives. Connect with them on Instagram, and Facebook and share the empowerment with your friends and loved ones. Remember, together, we can embrace the beauty of strength and resilience!

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