Influential women make powerful strides as they set forth on pursuits that value people and enrich lives. A perfect example of this is embodied by Kate Nowlan, entrepreneur and co-founder of San Diego-based GRACEDBYGRIT, a women’s apparel line and mentorship program designed to help women support one another in their athletic journeys.
Listen in as Neal Bloom chats with Kate about her growth as an entrepreneur, as well as challenges she has overcome as a woman in business.
2:50 Kate takes us through her initial upbringing in Rochester, New York to her eventual move to San Diego. After having resided on the East Coast for most of her life – including her undergraduate experience at University of Massachusetts, Amherst – she and her then husband shifted to San Diego to bring an entrepreneurial idea to life. Years down the road, circumstances changed and Kate had to figure out how to launch her own career as a single mom. She soon recognized a gap in a local swimming program and was offered a position at the non profit, thus kickstarting her entrepreneurial journey.
6:58 Kate never thought of herself as an entrepreneurially-minded person, but in retrospect, she realizes many of her accomplishments proved otherwise. Whenever she noticed something lacking in her community, Kate started a program to eliminate that shortage. Her consistent go-getter mindset eventually landed her positions training athletes as well as a full-time job event planning for The Boys and Girls Club. Her involvement with women athletes soon influenced her to brainstorm ideas for an athletic apparel brand for women on the run; this idea transformed into GRACEDBYGRIT.
12:05 With various connections in the industry under her belt, Kate and her co-founder got to work building the business. They soon pitched their idea to San Diego Sports Innovators, an incubator in San Diego, resulting in feedback that was mostly. Instead of losing hope in the business, Kate was determined to prove critics wrong, and years after that pitch, she and her co-founder received apologies from the critics, whose wives resonated with the GRACEDBYGRIT brand.
15:46 Kate shares the significance behind the name of the brand. “Women have these gritty moments in their lives that if they push through long enough, can become their grace.” Over time, the brand gained more momentum and recognition, with women resonating greatly with the brand’s message of solidarity and women empowerment. It helped women everywhere feel powerful when faced with hardships, including a breast cancer survivor that Kate met.
19:10 For years, Kate continued to build the company, hosting pop-up stores as well as events in women’s homes and pilates studios. After struggling to raise sufficient capital for growth, and having a co-founder who wanted a change of pace, Kate eventually sold the company in 2018 to local men’s apparel company Hylete. She decided that the legacy of GRACEDBYGRIT was to create a foundation focused on creating female leaders of tomorrow, and she did just that.
26:00 With Kate’s success as an entrepreneur, she felt it integral to give back. She does so through her foundation and also supports other businesses that choose to give back to charitable causes. The GRACEDBYGRIT brand’s ethos remains grace, grit, and give. Kate sees the need for more women in conversations in business and fuels that change by speaking up and representing women in her brand. This mentorship program helps develop women leaders, enabling them to shine in a community of like-minded individuals.
Kate’s favorite local tacos:
City Tacos in North Park and street tacos in Tijuana
Connect with Kate:
Keep up with GRACEDBYGRIT:
Thanks to our partners at Cox Business for their support in enabling us to grow the San Diego ecosystem.