How Katherine Power grew startups with over $60 million in funding

  • Katherine Power is the CEO behind Who What Wear, the fashion and lifestyle site that in 14 years has grown into a digital media and fashion brand with over 3.4 million followers on Instagram. 
  • She’s also founded two more companies, Versed skincare and Avaline, the “clean wine” brand she cofounded with best friend Cameron Diaz.
  • Power’s three brands have collectively raised over $60 million in funding. 
  • Power says three strategies have been fundamental to her success, including mindful leadership and focus on profitability.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

There are challenges to starting a business that any entrepreneur might find intimidating.  

But for Katherine Power, challenges are what keep things interesting. “I enjoy problem-solving, it’s almost a creative outlet for me,” she told Business Insider. 

Power is the startup guru behind Who What Wear, the fashion blog born in 2006 that over the last 14 years has ballooned into a digital media hub and fashion brand that boasts over 3.4 million followers on Instagram alone. 

She’s since gone on to found two more brands, Versed skincare and Avaline the “clean wine” company she cofounded with her good friend, Cameron Diaz. These ventures have collectively raised over $60 million in venture capital and strategic funding.

But her journey to entrepreneurial success wasn’t always easy. At one point, she even had to borrow money from her now husband  then a very new boyfriend  to keep the lights on. “People thought we were crazy for leaving our glamorous jobs at a glossy fashion magazine, but we saw the potential in digital.” 

The empty space Who What Wear filled in the market and the team’s ability to diversify the company’s revenue relatively early in the life of the business, scaled the startup up fast. Now, Who What Wear is now 14 years old, and Power has applied the same leadership tactics to the brands she’s founded since. 

“As an entrepreneur and CEO, you have to be comfortable with discomfort and ambiguity,” she said.

“We are now in the second recession I’ve been through in my career, and the time between major market shifts is becoming shorter and shorter, thanks in part to how quickly technology moves.” She said entrepreneurs have to “stay true to your mission and incredibly nimble as a leadership team.”

That said, there are three strategies Power applies to her businesses that she said have “been key to the growth and resilience of my companies through both good and challenging times.”

And she shared them with Business Insider. 

1. Lead with your community

Entrepreneurs have to start somewhere. And Power said that if you see an opportunity amongst your community for a product or service, engage them and make them part of the process, whether it’s your large social media following or your own group of friends.

“You don’t need a big number of people to glean the right insights, as long as it’s a diverse set, and you’ll not only inform your product creation but build affinity within that community while you do it,” she said. 

2. Build great teams

Team building has been a long-touted focal point of entrepreneurial success. 

As a founder of three companies, Power said she is nothing without the team of executives she’s built for each.

“I do the really important recruiting myself, I’m very involved, from scouring LinkedIn to doing reference calls myself, even if we are working with a recruiter,” she said. “Once they join me, I see it as my responsibility to make them successful at their job, and from there, the company is successful.” 

3. Focus on profitability

It may seem obvious, but profitability really is at the heart of any successful venture, according to Power.

“This is something that companies in the venture community didn’t hear until the last couple of years,” she said. “My companies have always been focused on driving profitable growth and it’s put us in a really strong position with many opportunities, even during turbulent times.”

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