#SWAAYthenarrative

One Size Does Not Fit All: Custom Fit With Kit

Business

Merin Guthrie is a girl's girl. Raised to be strong and independent, she grew up in a family filled with unapologetically opinionated, self-assured women, including three grandmothers and her mother. From age 12 she attended an all-female boarding school where she formed incredible relationships, and was never hindered by the world of “man.”


Upon entering the real world for college, Guthrie was wondering, “Why aren’t more people focused on women, and what women need, and empowering women?”

Having such an absence of men for the better part of her young life was incredibly influential for Guthrie. It's not that she thought of men as the bad guys, she just didn’t see herself in the context of a man at all. To illustrate her point, Guthrie brought up the point that Katie Ledecky in the 2016 Olympics was always referred to as the “female Michael Phelps,” but never as her own superior self as an athlete.

Merin Guthrie, Founder and CEO of Kit.

Photo Credit: Samira Bouaou

Along with this problem, Guthrie also became aware of how poorly women’s clothes are made these days. She started wearing her grandmothers’ old vintage dresses that still had amazing quality and fit her so much better than anything she could buy at a store. Guthrie’s own boss couldn’t see how well she performed at a meeting because she was so uncomfortable in her clothes and believed that everyone in the meeting was focused on how poorly they fit.

When it comes to women's clothing, fit is a huge problem. In fact, industry wide--60% of all women’s wear designers are men. How can they possibly be expected to know what will fit us?

Guthrie eventually moved to Texas with her husband where she had a lot of free time on her hands. She was asked to make bridesmaids dresses for an old friend who was getting married, and after working with each individual woman to make her bridesmaids dress what she wanted, Guthrie realized she wanted to try and solve this industry wide problem of fit.

One thing was for sure, Guthrie wanted to focus on women and women alone. She based her line on the needs of her female customer service manager, also is a mom with two kids under the age of three. While Guthrie is absolutely not opposed to men, she believes a woman in the customer service job is a much better fit than a man. To wit, a man can’t answer questions about what dress is right for breastfeeding, and how a bust size should fit. The customer service has to fit the demographics, which is what helps make this company so innovative and inspiring.

According to Guthrie, the reason women’s clothes don’t fit well is that patterns are made two-dimensionally, but women have three-dimensional bodies. To address this issue, Guthrie had a long conversation with a pattern maker who made clothes yet still couldn’t find anything that fits. They agreed that they had to throw out the idea of a one-size-fits-all sizing system; it just doesn’t work. Instead of sizing, the company gets information about people’s bodies to make the clothes specifically fit that person.

All Kit clothes are all made after the point of purchase, and because the manufacturing is in-house, the company's seamstresses work with customer service to make everything customizable. Customers who have dealt with one of the workers before will just email whoever they’ve worked with instead of going back to the website; there’s a relationship built there. Furthermore, the company welcomes and evolves with customer feedback.

The reason behind Kit's success, to be sure, is Guthrie's focus on her consumer, rather than on scaling quickly for a quick buck. Instead, she’s focused on keeping the customers happy and producing quality products.

Guthrie (left) and a friend.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Kit

“We wanted customer service to be like having a really stylish good friend.”

By getting clothing through Kit, customers are guaranteed a one-of-a-kind service experience along with quality items that actually fit. Although Guthrie came from a background that didn’t include fashion, she was able to think outside the box, and inspire an entire industry by introducing a clothing line that women didn't even know they needed.

3 Min Read
Career

Black LGBTQ Woman Powerhouse Launches Vegan Cosmetics Line

I am a proud Black business owner carrying a line of lip colors for the woman who wants to shine. At Vatarie Cosmetics you can find cruelty-free and vegan lip care products, including clear lip gloss and liquid matte lipsticks. The line is still under development, so there are more products in the making that you'll hear more about soon!

My products are high-quality and it is my dream to take my brand into high-end storefronts across the nation and even across the globe.

About Leticia

I have worked my way into my entrepreneurial career as I did not come from money. The goal of my cosmetic line is to bring excitement to everyone who tries the line. My products are high-quality and it is my dream to take my brand into high-end storefronts across the nation and even across the globe. I believe that with added makeup and a good set of threads, anybody can confidently face the world. I am a proud and firm supporter of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and a proud member and supporter of the LGBTQIA community.

There have been plenty of hardships that I have had to face throughout my entire life, the most recent being the recent death of my father who passed far too soon. I have never allowed these hardships to deter me, and won't start now. I will continue to progress and work hard to build my business, knowing that this is what my father would have wanted.

About the Vatarie Line: What It's All About

Upon launching the line, I had the mission of inspiring every human to find their inner beauty and to have fun along the way. With this in mind, my products are designed for people of all genders, races, religions, and creeds. The Vatarie line will have more to offer customers very soon as I am continually working on developing products and expanding the line. In addition to the lip colors currently offered, the line will soon include highlighters, eyeshadows, and new lip gloss additions.

I believe that no one needs makeup to validate themselves, and we are all beautiful on our own. I do believe, though, that makeup can make life a lot more fun. Now more than ever we are living in a world where there is so much sadness and darkness. Sometimes all we need to change our moods and get away from that darkness is something to help us feel better and more vibrant — this is where a pop of makeup and a well put together outfit can really make an impact.

Now more than ever we are living in a world where there is so much sadness and darkness.

I encourage everybody to embrace their inner beauty and inner style, and express themselves no matter what. My line of products is inspired by high fashion and designed to make a bold statement. The running theme across my products is empowerment at every stage and level. I create products that make my customers feel happy, and I ensure I am happy myself with my products before I release every single one. There is no place for cutting corners as I believe in producing the highest quality product.

I bring my sense of humor and quirky personality into my products and you can see this in the names of each item. Take the lip color "Blood Money," which signifies all the money, tears, sweat, and yes, blood that was put into the brand. Let me tell you, it was hard work, and it still is hard work, but at the end of the day, it fulfills me to know the type of quality I am providing. It gives me great pride to create a line of legendary products that will positively affect someone and bring them to a place of self-love and acceptance.

About the Past that Gives My Business Meaning

I have struggled over the years with mental abuse that has left me feeling as if "I wasn't enough." Added to that, being a Black woman in an industry that is predominantly dominated by other races, I had to work harder to get to where I am today.

Coming from a broken home, my family struggled with addiction, making my entire childhood a miserable nightmare. My mother abandoned us as she was being physically abused, and it was up to us the kids to do everything necessary to take care of the home and each other. We eventually ended up living with my grandmother in Miami, Florida. At a very young age, I had to endure physical and mental abuse and was locked up. At the age of 22, I lost my younger sister to gun violence and found myself raising her one-year-old son as my own.

Being a Black woman in an industry that is predominantly dominated by other races, I had to work harder to get to where I am today.

While my past was a rough one, it is what has made me the strong, independent, and vibrant woman I am today. That woman strives to be her best every day and works tirelessly to provide a line of only the best cosmetics products. I couldn't see this while I was living through those bad situations and struggling to grow up, but I can look back and see how I was made more resilient because of my hardships.

As I grieve over my father's recent passing, I become stronger. It is this added personal strength that will push me forward in everything I do and will be reflected in my work ethic and in the development of new products for my Vatarie line of cosmetics.