Here at MyDomaine, we’re champions of businesses that are owned and operated by women; after all, our company was founded by two fearless women. That’s why we’re collaborating with Who What Wear on Female Founded, an editorial series that dives into the stories of women who have launched their own businesses. Here, you’ll discover who these women are, what they’ve accomplished, and how they style pieces from our own Who What Wear collection at Target.
It's hard enough making a marriage work, let alone a friendship that also veers into a business relationship. But Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power remain best friends 12 years after launching our parent company, Clique Brands. One of the secrets to their success, according to Kerr? The fact that their skill sets don't overlap much; they each add value in different ways to the overall health and growth of the company.
Together, Kerr and Power have built one of the most exciting portfolios of digital media brands that speak to 30 million monthly readers across Who What Wear, Byrdie, MyDomaine, College Fashionista, and Obsessee. They've also published three books together and launched two hugely successful fashion lines for Target (Who What Wear collection and JoyLab)… And they have a beauty line in the works. It's little wonder Clique was named Fast Company's Most Innovative Company in 2017.
But getting there took a ton of grit, hustle, and persistence. For that reason, we caught up with the pair to tap into their wealth of knowledge and have them share some of the best (and worst) advice they've been given, along with the mistakes they've learned from along the way.
What company did you start? What is its purpose?
KATHERINE POWER: We started Clique Brands and created Who What Wear. Clique is a digital-first media and commerce company with brands that cater to communities of women across multiple generations in all categories of style. We want to make insider fashion and beauty accessible to women and girls everywhere.
Fill in the blank: "Before founding Clique, I was…"
KP: The West Coast editor of Elle and Elle Girl magazines.
HILLARY KERR: A freelance writer for Elle, Teen Vogue, and Nylon. Prior to that, I was an Elle editor in the features department.
What are three things you always do before 10 a.m.?
KP: I work out, shower, and have breakfast with my son, Sebastian.
HK: Spend some quality time with my son, Clark, and my husband. I've become a morning person because of the two of them. Then I take care of any pressing emails and read as much of The New York Times as possible, as well as all other breaking news.
What were some of your biggest career mistakes, and what did you learn from them?
KP: I honestly can't think of any career mistakes. Everything happens for a reason.
HK: Earlier in Clique Brands' history, I didn't always trust my intuition about a particular deal; it looked great on paper and seemed like a smart thing to do, but it just didn't feel right—and I regretted that. The partnership ended up being a really heavy lift and didn't work out well for either company, and I regret that we spent that much time and energy on it.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
KP: Only do what only you can do. This is how I think about delegating and managing my time.
HK: You know your business better than anyone else.
What's the worst piece of advice you've ever been given?
KP: It's not one set piece of advice, but more a long list that all boils down to being told to implement the newest technology or popular business strategy. We even once considered going into flash sales when Gilt was popular. Thank goodness we ignored that; I don't think we'd be where we are today, and we've gotten here by being incredibly disciplined and testing changes in small increments until we see success. It meant staying true to where we saw our business going. No one knows that better than us, and we stuck to our path rather than following the hype.
HK: You should get into flash sales.
What's your biggest piece of advice for female entrepreneurs?
KP: Don't think about being female; just think about being great at what you do.
HK: Know your worth, and come to the table completely prepared.
What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
KP: I'd like to inspire others to build a career out of something they wish existed.
HK: I want women who interact with our brands to walk away feeling inspired and empowered.
If you could have your 12-year-old self over for dinner, what advice would you share with her?
KP: Don't pluck your eyebrows. They'll never grow back, no matter what.
HK: You're incredible just the way you are, and don't let anyone tell you differently. You're capable of more than you can imagine. And don't let Holly borrow your vintage Princeton T-shirt, because she will destroy it.
Tell us about some of your mentors and people who have inspired you.
KP: Many of my close friends who run businesses and are going through similar things: Jessica Alba, founder of The Honest Company; Hayden Slater, CEO of Pressed Juicery; and Tracy Holland, CEO of Hatch Beauty.
HK: I really love the idea of horizontal loyalty, which I first heard on Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman's podcast, Call Your Girlfriend. For me, the people who have inspired me the most—and who have been incredibly supportive from day one—are my peers. My former colleagues at Elle, friends and entrepreneurs I've met along the way, and really this community of women I know in the fashion/tech/entertainment/beauty space. I feel lucky to have so many standout women in my life.
How would your employees and assistants describe you? How would your best friend describe you?
KP: Nice, I hope? Lauren? [Katherine Power's assistant, Lauren Valencia: "I would say kind, thoughtful, nice, funny, intelligent, sharp, determined, a true boss lady, innovative!"]
HK: I think most of the people I work with would describe me as collaborative, as well as prone to dad jokes and bad puns. My BFF would agree on the pun part of it; she'd also probably say I'm a glass-half-full sort of person and loyal to a fault.
What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
KP: Our books, our hugely successful apparel line, the audience of about 160 million women we reach in a year, and the fact that we started this business with about $34,000 from our own savings accounts.
HK: Creating an amazing company with Katherine Power.
What's something you've yet to accomplish but would love to achieve in your lifetime?
KP: At some point, I'd like to help other entrepreneurs incubate their ideas. There are so many good ideas in the world, and I'd like to see more of them get executed. I'd also like to help create more wealth for women, in general, in the United States. I think that would start to solve some of the political problems we're having.
HK: Writing a novel.
What type of clothing item always commands respect?
KP: Whatever you feel most comfortable in, because when you're comfortable, you're confident, and confidence commands respect. For me, it's usually a blazer and a pair of slacks.
HK: A beautifully tailored blazer. Wear it with a skirt or trousers for more formal days, or with jeans for a more casual look; it's so versatile and will always ensure you look professional.
Now for a few rapid-fire questions…
KP: The kissing cat.
HK: The pineapple.
Dine out or order in?
Go-to drink order?
KP: Natural wine. I buy from Helen's Wines in L.A. and take it with me to most restaurants because I don't want to drink the toxic additives that are in most mass-produced wines.
HK: Super-earthy red wine or mezcal.
KP: The Operator by Tom King.
HK: The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe.
Last thing you googled?
KP: United Colors of Benetton.
HK: The correct spelling of Rona Jaffe's last name.
What are your top three favorite accounts to follow on social?
HK: @karlawelchstylist because she's an amazing stylist and she's one of the few people in the industry to use her platform for political awareness as well as style inspiration; it's much appreciated. @shionat because she's so talented. I love her personal style, and she has a great sense of humor. @infatuation_la because food is my hobby and my love language, and I always love seeing new spots in my city.
Head to Who What Wear for more on Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power, and shop workwear essentials from the Who What Wear collection at Target below.