Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we chat with Kate Hersch, founder of August Morgan, an amazing line of hand-embroidered linen cocktail napkins. Kate shares with us what it means to empower women to live positive and organized lifestyles along with advice for future #bossladies.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career.
I live in Austin, Texas and am a wife to Robert and mother to Lily and Gus. I generally work from the morning after drop off at school until 4 when it is time to pick kids up and begin the evening routine of dinner, homework, sports, etc.
As a family we love to travel and eat. You will never starve in the Hersch household!
I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BFA in Art History. After graduation I went to work at Sotheby’s in New York. I was in the Bid Department in Client Services. I was the person on the phone bidding for clients in the salesroom.
At Sotheby’s my friend introduced me to needlepoint. I was hooked. I never get on a plane with a piece of needlework. Unbeknownst to me, needlepoint would kick start another career…..
2. What prompted you to start August Morgan?
When I moved to back Austin I would frequently go to thrift stores and see old needlepoint pillows. I knew the amount of work that went into them I decided to “rescue” the needlepoints.
I then began August Morgan as a pillow company. I took vintage needlework and had them remade into a new pillow with a canvas back, invisible zipper, and down insert. The pillows were modern with a tip of the hat to the past. They were sold in stores across the US, in Barneys NY and on Anthropologie’s website. I loved creating these, but they were time consuming and produced a small profit for a lot of work.
I then came up with four designs for embroidered cocktail napkins, and now we have over 40 designs. The napkins, like the pillows, were traditional with a twist.
Now I have my clothing line that is like my pillows and cocktail napkins; traditional with a touch of whimsy.
3. You (semi) recently added clothing to your product assortment. Do you find that more challenging to sell/work with on an e-commerce platform?
I actually think it is easier to sell clothing than cocktail napkins online. There are some serious e-shoppers out there!
4. How do you make August Morgan stand out against competitors?
I don’t worry about competitors, but I do fiercely protect my own designs. My cocktail napkins are constantly being copied and I have a great lawyer. We send out cease and desist letters a few times a month. This is expensive but worth it to me. I won’t let anyone take the glory for my hard work and creativity.
5. What has been August Morgan’s most successful form of marketing? (In terms of obtaining new customers)
Finding Instagram tastemakers to promote my dresses.
6. When it comes to building your brand, what is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
Not to be trendy, as that is not my personal style and it should not reflect my company. To be true to my vision and taste.
7. Where do you hope to see the company in 5 years?
More clothing and more fun. A broader lifestyle company.
8. What inspires you and fuels your creativity?
Watching other women create, succeed and work hard.
9. What advice do you have for those looking to go from employee to entrepreneur?
Just do it. Do not care what anyone else thinks and says if you want it bad enough.
10. Who is a #BossLady that inspires you and why?
I admire Aerin Lauder for her personal style and how it is reflected in her beautiful products.
Just for fun…
Your happy place is: My annual winter trip to Jamaica with my family and two other families.
The one item you can’t live without it: my dogs! Golden Retrievers are the best!
Favorite Instagram account to follow: @awkwardfamilyphotos
The last show you binge-watched: The Crown
Cocktail of choice: Vodka soda with a lime. Preferably Stoli. I’m old!
Song you could dance all day to: This week it’s Wish I Knew You by The Revivalists
Trend you wish would disappear: Active wear when one is not exercising. Let’s leave that at the gym and dress for the day.