Local student's accessories brand flourishes

Anne Cate boutique and Cleveland-based founder Anne  Skoch

Being a college student is hard. Being a college student and an entrepreneur is harder, but Anne Skoch, a Kent State University student, is succeeding at both - and she does it with style. 

Skoch is the founder and designer behind Anne Cate, a handmade accessories boutique predominately featuring city skylines. Skoch was kind enough to answer some questions for us while studying in New York City. Here's what she had to say about her designs and her life as an entrepreneur.

What was the main reason/influence behind you starting Anne Cate?

Designing, sewing, and creating have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Anne Cate began merely out of a passion for creating. I would sew products for friends, participate in countless craft shows, and sell minimally on Etsy. It was so rewarding to create something that brought other people joy and bring a concept to life. The business was founded in 2011 and over the past six years, I have created, designed, failed, grown, and, most importantly, learned what I love doing the most, as well as how I want my brand to be established. As the brand has grown, I am very passionate about being made in America and bringing meaning back into a product. 

Where do you find inspiration for your product designs?

I find inspiration in the small details of a big picture. Growing up in Cleveland, I was always so fascinated by the beautiful combination of the shoreline and the skyline. As I traveled past Cleveland, I fell in love with the unique and distinct personalities every city skyline presented. Chicago, Columbus, Pittsburgh, New York…all had a different story, purpose, and adventure within it. Seeing these breathtaking sights inspired me to start my skyline collection. What I love most about my products is that just as each skyline had a different meaning behind it for me, every purse I sell as a different meaning for each customer. I love hearing the reason behind a sale.

Do you have a favorite design? 

Cleveland, of course! Cleveland was the first skyline I designed and is still my most popular. There is so much beauty in our sweet and simple city. I recently studied away for a semester in New York City, and I take my Cleveland skyline purse everywhere so I have a bit of home with me always. 

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received about being a style entrepreneur?

The best advice I have received about being a style entrepreneur was from a designer (Anna Coroneo) I met in New York City, who started her company from a dream of running her own business one day and is now selling in Bergdorf Goodmans, Harrods, and many other luxury retailers. She told me that there are some things as an entrepreneur that you just have to go for and take a risk, no matter how much fear or uncertainty you may have. The day she gave me this advice, I had gotten an offer to do the Artist and Fleas Brooklyn, but was unsure if it was worth the investment. After talking to her, I instantly went home and signed up…and she was right, it was worth the risk! There are going to be plenty of ups and downs with any business, but no matter what, I have now learned from Anna, there is something to learn from every situation that will only benefit your business in the long run. 

What's something you would tell someone else looking to start their own business?

I am very passionate about entrepreneurship and always encourage anyone with a dream or passion to pursue it! It is most definitely not easy, but the outcome is worth it. To be able to create your own success while doing the job you love with the most rewarding thing ever and makes all of the late nights worth it. If there is passion and drive behind an idea or venture, then you will be successful. 

What are your future plans for Anne Cate?

I am very excited about growing Anne Cate. Anne Cate is currently working on scaling up to grow not just the product, but more importantly, the brand. I am in the process of developing new product accessories aside from the skylines with a focus on quality, practicality, and simplicity that I am hoping to release this fall. This summer, I am excited to announce I will be participating in the Cleveland Flea, the Cleveland Bazaar Markets, and the Randolph Street Market in Chicago. As I am finishing up my last year in college at Kent State, it is my dream to pursue Anne Cate full time one day, whether it is via eCommerce or a brick and mortar boutique, I am driven to continue creating quality, meaningful, Made in America products!

Learn more and shop Anne Cate products at www.annecate.com

Wednesday, May 24, 2017