They say the secret to successful entrepreneurship is identifying a problem and coming up with an amazing solution. We know that with Teat & Cosset, Peggy Economou has done just that – offering stylish solutions to the nursing mom.
1. Tell us about Teat & Cosset. What makes it special?
Teat & Cosset was inspired by my struggle to find clothing that was both stylish and functional while I was nursing my daughter, Dafne. I wanted to stop spending money on the same old tired maternity wear made with cheap jersey that I would never wear normally. What makes Teat & Cosset special is that design, quality and functionality are equally important in every collection we design. I’ve heard countless times from stylish moms that they avoid wearing maternity. They buy oversize tops or wear button downs to nurse. Our collection is for those moms, offering chic quality alternatives that make breastfeeding easy. Tops and dresses that don’t scream nursing wear and that any woman would want to wear, whether nursing or not. I love getting non-nursing moms reactions when they see our collection, “Oh wow, I would totally wear this and I’m not even breastfeeding.” We use mostly natural fibers because they are sustainable and hygienic. Everything is made in Italy, by skilled manufacturers because our mission is to make clothes that mothers can and will want to wear long after they stop nursing. The idea of before, during and after is what we want to stay true to.
2. You made the transition from big corporation to business founder. Was it difficult? What did you find most surprising?
Starting a business is never easy, especially when all of a sudden you’re the only one making the big decisions. Lots of things were also totally new to me. Digital Marketing? Branding? PR? I didn’t know the first thing about a lot of these things. I had to believe in myself, in my ideas and trust my instincts. One of the best things about starting a new business is the newfound knowledge that comes with it. What many people don’t think about when they’re dreaming of leaving their job behind is the stress and long hours that come with it. Coming up with the name, logo and colors in the beginning is the fun part. But there is so much more behind it. And you think about work ALL the time, day and night. It can wear on you and those around you. Another reason why you have to believe in it wholeheartedly. What was most surprising was that work finally didn’t seem like work anymore…the hours seem to fly by now and if I could work on my business all day I would. I had never felt that way before. But I have a family and personal life to nurture as well so I’m trying to find balance every day.
3. Knowing what you know now, would you have done anything differently while at Colgate undergrad?
I probably wouldn’t have done anything differently at Colgate. I got a great liberal arts education. I majored in Economics but took lots of different courses and even spent a semester abroad in Spain. Though I may have done things differently in high school. I loved my art classes and was very creative. I considered going to art & design school after H.S. and my parents would have supported that decision. But I also loved math and economics and thought going to a liberal arts school would be a good compromise. I think what I’m doing now is perfect for combining my strengths in art and economics. It took over 10 years to get here though.
4. What do you want Teat & Cosset to be known for? And, what do you want to be known for?
I want Teat & Cosset to be known for beautiful, high quality clothing that makes women feel confident and like themselves again. I want to be known for creating something new, something beautiful to help moms reach their breastfeeding milestones. I know clothing was an issue for me while nursing and sometimes I wonder if I had one less obstacle, would I have breastfed for longer? Probably.
5. Was there anyone you had to convince in order for you to launch your company? If so, how did you do it?
Most of my friends and family supported me when I decided to go ahead with launching the brand. I did however wait to tell many people until the first collection was already under way. I didn’t want it to just be another idea. Sometimes people tried to sway me in regards to designs, colors, the brand name even, but what I’m realizing is that I have to follow my gut and not always listen to what other people think. Everyone will have an opinion and it can be confusing and throw you off your path.
6. What’s next on the horizon?
I’m working on getting the brand into retail boutiques in capitals across the United States and Europe. So far Teat & Cosset is available in a store in Milan and will soon be available in NYC. I plan on doing a Northern European tour this summer to meet store owners and will probably do a similar tour in the US. Although we are predominantly an e-commerce brand, I also think it is important for women to touch and see the clothing and be able to try it on.
7. Did you have a business plan when you launched? If yes, have you stuck to it? Do you think business plans work for entrepreneurs?
A business plan was the first thing I did. Writing things down helped clarify my vision and strategy and made both more tangible. When you start running a business it is easy to get sidetracked from the big picture and get stuck in the daily minutia so I find myself going back to it often. I think it is impossible to completely stick to a business plan, especially the finance part. There will always be unexpected expenses and your projected sales are just that – you will have no idea what your sales will be the first year. In the beginning of any business it takes testing and seeing what works and what doesn’t. Getting feedback from customers is also important. There is only so much you can plan in advance and it is important to be flexible and adapt.
8. How do you spread the word about your site?
I underestimated word of mouth initially but I’m realizing how powerful it is. But it takes time and I’m learning to be patient since we’ve only just launched our second collection. There is nothing more powerful than getting a recommendation from a trusted friend. Social media is also a great tool that helps us express our brand values and spread the word. At the same time we’re working with editors and bloggers and influential moms who love our collection.
9. What’s your absolute favorite look for spring?
I’m loving color right now. I’m a New Yorker at heart but living in Europe has expanded my color palette for sure. And now that winter is over I’m putting blacks and neutrals aside and choosing pretty pastels and some fun color combos like blues, pinks and reds. I love our easy colorful Penelope dress. Paired with simple sandals, it is perfect for the beach or for a warm spring day. I also love our knit Lia T-shirt in Mint. I’ve been wearing mine with white jeans and sneakers. It’s a classic casual look with a pop of pretty color – perfect for spring!
10.What’s your message for aspiring entrepreneurs? What do you wish you knew?
Be patient and focused and don’t give up. Stay positive and surround yourself with likeminded people. Having a good support group, that believed in me and the brand, helped me get through the tough days. There were many days early on when I would break down in tears after we had just launched and sales were slim. My husband reminded me to stay positive, that things would get better. I wish I had known how many extra expenses there would be along the way! I would have done things differently for sure. But then again, you don’t learn until you make mistakes yourself. I think a lot of entrepreneurs in the beginning (myself included!) believe once you launch everyone will be interested about you and your product. Not true. It is a daily uphill battle to get recognition and to get people to learn about your brand.