Anne Skoch / Anne Cate
How did you become a Master Tailor/designer?
I learned how to sew from my mother when I was a young girl. I loved the idea of bringing a creative idea to life with my hands. As a thirteen-year-old, I got my first sewing machine and took my creating to the next level, discovering that I could make money from the products I created. I sewed purses for friends, participated in countless craft shows, and established a small Etsy shop. I made beach glass necklaces, bridesmaid purses, canvas crossbody bags, and ribbon headbands. If I could paint, sew, glue, or craft it, I would put it on my Etsy store to sell! It was rewarding to bring a concept to life through the creation of products that brought other people joy. With my entrepreneurial spirit, I self-taught my way to gain skill, speed, and design.
How did you become interested in the industry?
When it came time to attend college, I chose to continue pursuing this youthful and creative passion, studying fashion and entrepreneurship at Kent State University. Without really knowing what the word “entrepreneur” meant (or how to spell it!), I packed up my sewing machine and took the next steps in my journey: a journey that lead to my current venture, Anne Cate. I knew I wanted my career to be one I created for my own; I loved both the business end of selling my products just as much as I loved creating my products.
How long have you been in the industry?
Formally for four years, but a lifetime sewist. Throughout college I worked in wedding alterations and our campus costume shop learning different elements of design, but found a true passion in accessories. I took the unconventional route after I graduated college and pursed my business full time, opening my manufacturing studio shortly after. There is a great deal I have learned and much more I have yet to learn, but I am proud of all we have accomplished thus far.
Do you have a back story about your business? Family Owned? How many years?
Anne Cate was born my sophomore year of college when I went to design some pillows for my dorm room. I always loved to keep a bit of home with me while I was away at college. Excited to move into my dorm and decorate my new home away from home, I designed and created decorative pillows with three city skylines (New York City, Cleveland, and Chicago) that were meaningful to me, not knowing the potential of this product. After many compliments and requests for the pillows, I tested them out in the same youthful Etsy store that I had had since I was thirteen. Three months later, a national retailer contacted me, expressing interest in wholesaling the pillows. This moment was an incredible step in fathoming my dream of being an entrepreneur. I came to the realization that these skyline products are unique and meaningful, and that this idea could be a foundation for my future. I spent the next six months rebranding my childish Etsy store to reflect me, and to encompass the new product I had created. My Etsy store that I had since I was 13 was transformed into “Anne Cate,” a Made-in-America accessories boutique specializing in simplistic products. When brainstorming new names for my business, a friend suggested Anne Cate, stemming from my full name, Anne Catherine Skoch. I fell in love with this idea. It was classic, elegant, simple - and a part of me. Since founding Anne Cate and releasing our first line of skyline silhouette products, I have not looked back. We have been in business for nearly four years, most of which has been as a side hustle while I finished college. I have since graduated and opened our own manufacturing studio space.
What Makes your business different than others? How do you stand out?
All products are completely handmade in small batches at our manufacturing studio in Cleveland, Ohio. Each product is created using sustainable and quality materials, sourced in the US and much by Wawak! Not only is every product made by hand, but they have a special meaning to each customer. Places impact people - places we travel, places we leave, and places we come home to. To our customers, our products are more than just a purse or a pillow; they tell a story, a story that is unique to each customer. We hope to continue to impact our customers through our products, production processes, and brand. Quality and community are most important to us.
What was one of the most challenging / creative jobs you have ever done?
Determining how to scale my business from my dorm room sewing machine to a manufacturing studio was the biggest challenge (and achievement) I have experienced. It was a hurdle I never thought I could scale to – then we did.
What Do you do to keep up with the industry?
Staying as up to date with technology in manufacturing and fabric printing is key for our business. New technology leads to better quality and faster speed. We have the most technologically advance sewing machines that cut and backstitch automatically and use sublimation printers. I like to stay up to date with accessory trend reports on WGSN and Doneger as well. Each month I try to be strategic to plan ahead for the seasons to come and collaborate to be creative to our customers.
What is new and exciting for 2020?
2020 has been a unique year, amidst a pandemic. We are fortunate to still be growing and stable, but have adapted to mask making and products catering to essential workers. 2020’s goal was to think out of the box creatively. This year we are releasing new product designs, a mens line, and collaborating with artists on new and simplistic illustrations to release alongside our skyline products. Our future goal is to become the next name brand accessories designer in the United States, alongside brands like Coach and Kate Spade, with a focus on affordable quality and simplistic, yet unique accessories.
What do you like best about WAWAK?
I love how accessible WAWAK is, the speed of order fulfillment and the variety of products. You can find just about every notion and material we need on WAWAK.
When it comes to your company, waht are you most proud of?
I am proud of building something so large in just four years, at the age of 24. There were many hurdles that I couldn’t imagine overcoming, but with hard work and perseverance, the business has grown into something special. Creating my own success – both with hard work and physically, with my sewing machine at hand – is the greatest feeling.
When advice do you give to the next generation of designers?
As a young designer and entrepreneur myself, I always love to encourage young designers to work hard and pursue their ventures young! Create your own success! Hard work tied with creative passion goes a long way.
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