Meet Joanna Griffiths, Founder and CEO of Knix, and 2018 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Staples Start-up Award Finalist
Founder and CEO, Knix
Finalist, Staples Start-Up Award, CENTRAL
Knix is a direct-to-consumer women’s intimate apparel company that is reinventing intimates for real life. Having launched in 2013 with leak proof and absorbent underwear, their assortment now includes comfortable wire-free bras and tanks, t-shirts that block sweat, loungewear, a line for teens, and more. Founder Joanna Griffiths credits authenticity, a focus on empowering women, and size inclusiveness (they offer up to a size 22) for building a trusted relationship with their community of over 250,000 customers from around the world — leading to a Knix item being sold every 10 seconds.
My first job ever was… Unofficially, I swept hair of the floor at a hair salon when I was 12. Officially, I worked as a camp counsellor at a sleepover camp from age 15.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I believed in my capacity to make the world a better place.
My proudest accomplishment is… changing everyday. Today, it’s having a built a company that empowers women all over the world, makes game changing products and employs over 40 people and has ships 35,000 packages a month. Tomorrow will likely be the same, just the scale will be different.
My boldest move to date was… pivoting our business to be direct-to-consumer. It meant shutting down our largest revenue driver (wholesale) that had been three years in the making, reorganizing the entire company and basically starting from nothing but it has lead to so many great things.
I surprise people when I tell them… that I get intimated leading meetings. I can comfortably speak in front of a room of hundreds of people, but leading team meetings still makes me nervous.
My best advice to people starting their business is… Make something that people need. Life is so much easier when you are selling something that a large number of people need. We started with leak proof underwear. Was it a sexy idea? No. Was it needed by millions and millions of people? Yes. Make sure that you are creating something that the world needs.
My best advice from a mentor was… Attach yourself to a mission greater than yourself. It is what will get you out of bed when the going gets tough, and keep you fighting when you feel like you have no fight left. At Knix we fight everyday to empower women to be unapologetically free. Not only has it been my shining star when the days were dark, but it’s also attracted an incredible group of people to work for the company.
If I could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, it would be… right now it would be Sara Blakely from Spanx. I have so many questions for how she did what she did.
“Attach yourself to a mission greater than yourself. It is what will get you out of bed when the going gets tough, and keep you fighting when you feel like you have no fight left.”
I would tell my 20-year old self… to learn how to ask for help. You don’t have all the answers, nor should you. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.
My biggest setback was… Oh there are setbacks every day. It’s hard to think of one particular one. The thing about being an entrepreneur is that every day there is a new obstacle that you have to come or some mistake that you made that you had to make them right. What would have felt like a huge set back three years ago, now feels like a small bump in the road. As you grow, your ability to navigate setbacks gets easier and easier. Last week, I had a financing deal that I have been working on for the past several months fall through two days before closing. It was meant to be our first external capital raise since 2015 and we had $10 million lined up. I had a quick cry, and then popped a bottle of Veuve or “failure champagne” to toast all of the things that I had learned from that terrible experience. Three years ago that would have been catastrophic, today, it’s a brush off your shoulders, take stock of what you can learn from it, and move on.
I overcame it by… realizing that my resilience is my greatest strength.
The last book I read was… Artemis by Andy Weir. I’m a massive sci-fi nerd.
I stay inspired by… being connected to our end customer. Right now my biggest “fix” is reading through the comments of our Instagram profile. There are so many examples of women supporting women through the community we are building. It’s one of the most beautiful places online and it’s impossible to have it inspire you to keep going.
The future excites me because… I feel like we are just getting started. We have so many amazing products in store, so many incredible experiences to offer our customers and we have the people and the platform (our combined reach is now over 1 million strong) to really have an impact and change the way that women feel about themselves and their bodies.
My next step is… to hire a CMO and a COO. You are only as strong as the team that surrounds you. I’m excited for the next chapter where everyone I work with is smarter than me and knows more than I do. I’m excited for the learning that will come from it.