Joanna Griffiths is the Founder and CEO of Knix and Knixteen, the direct-to-consumer intimate apparel brands that are reinventing intimates for real life. Through a focus on product innovation and a mission to empower women to be unapologetically free, a Knix item is now sold every 7 seconds, and the company has shipped over half a million orders in the last twelve months alone. Joanna has been recognized on both the national and international stage for her work as a marketing disruptor championing the topics of body inclusivity, fertility, mental health and postpartum.
What area of your business is getting your most energy and focus?
Running a company during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging experience. It has pushed us to think creatively and pivot our tactics. One area of the business that we have really had to focus on is our distribution, ensuring that our warehouse is properly stocked for the demand that we are seeing for Knix products. As you can imagine, with border closures and new regulations, it has been a challenge to have products shipped internationally.
Another reason I have been so focused on distribution is due to the launch of our Knix PPE campaign back in March. We are raising funds through our community to provide hospital-grade PPE products to frontline healthcare workers. I am pleased to share that we have raised over $400,000 and have secured over 330,000 units of PPE. This project has become my nighttime job, but I am so happy that we have been able to support the people who need it most.
What is the most important problem you are trying to solve? What has been your most successful solution so far?
We are trying to problem-solve different ways of introducing our products and experiences to consumers virtually. We have always been a nimble company, so we have been able to pivot our strategy pretty seamlessly.
As soon as we started to see global lockdowns come into play, we were quick to act. When our stores closed, we launched Virtual Fittings, building on our customer’s online shopping experience, while also providing employment opportunities for our store associates.
This April, we had initially planned on having our annual warehouse sale in Toronto, instead of cancelling it, we decided to launch it virtually to consumers. Taking the warehouse sale to a virtual platform was a huge success and we sold more items in the first 10 minutes then our full three-day warehouse sale last year.
Currently, we are working on executing a new strategy around our swimwear launch. We had initially planned on during a live photoshoot in Tulum Mexico and had opened up a casting call for our customers to apply to be a part of it. The response was overwhelming, and within two weeks, we had over 11,000 applicants. Now that a photoshoot (especially one abroad) is out of the question, we selected 25 of these applicants to participate in an at-home content series. The photos from this series will come together to form our campaign, making it truly one of our most relatable swim campaigns.
How have you been staying connected with your customers and employees?
During the COVID-19 crisis, we have been staying connected to our customers through our Instagram channels, asking our community how they are feeling and reaching out directly to those who say they need to talk.
With our Knix team, we implemented a 9:30 am daily company-wide video call. It gives me an opportunity to connect with the full team and provide updates on the different projects that we have on the go. It has been a great way to start the day and helps the team feel more connected during this time of social distancing. We also have a weekly wins and learnings video call where each team member gets to share a success or win in their life, whether it’s a personal success or one that is work-related. It is a very positive meeting that helps brighten everyone’s week.
What financial resources are you tapping into? OR What advice do you have for businesses struggling with their finances?
Like so many organizations we don’t qualify for any of the business relief programs so there aren’t a ton of financial resources that we are tapping into. I’ve been hosting weekly zoom calls as part of the Female Business Empowerment Project along with Jessica Mulroney, Melissa Leong and Michele Romanow. Unfortunately, we are seeing this is the case for many. My best advice is to model out what different situations look like for you and your business. What would it mean if your supply chain is shut down and you can no longer get access to product, your fulfilment center can no longer ship, your physical retail doors can’t open etc. I would work on a best, better, worse and worst case and make sure that you are planning your cash spend accordingly. This is something we did at Knix back in Mid-March. It was helpful to plan these scenarios with a clear head.
“Trust your gut and be confident in the decisions you make. During times of crisis, continue to support your community and give back when you can.”
What has surprised you?
The biggest surprise for me is seeing how effectively our team has been able to work remotely. In a strange way, our company community feels stronger than ever. I am blown away by the creativity and agility that is being demonstrated daily by every one of our teams.
How far ahead are you planning?
Our plans are shifting and changing every day, but we are continuing to look ahead at the next six to twelve months. It is hard to know what the world will look like by then, but we are continuing to plan and prepare either way.
What keeps you positive?
The tight-knit community that we have built is what keeps me so positive. We receive so many DMS and emails on how we have made a difference in women’s lives, how we have helped them regain their confidence and their love for their bodies. We have truly attached ourselves to our brand mission of helping women live unapologetically free, and that is what motivates me and the team to be so passionate about the work that we do.
Most recently the work that we have done to secure PPE for healthcare workers and homeless shelters has added an extra layer of community building to our work. These frontline workers are risking their lives every day to help our country battle COVID-19. It really warms my heart to be able to help them during this crisis. It makes all the extra hours and emails worth it.
What message do you want to share with entrepreneurs right now?
I encourage other entrepreneurs to be creative and agile with their thinking. Trust your gut and be confident in the decisions you make. During times of crisis, continue to support your community and give back when you can.