Fit and Fashionable
“I love being fit and strong, because it’s so much more than just about your size,” Katie Kozloff, owner of Katie K. Active, said. “You feel mentally and physically able to do anything and can push through when you encounter a challenge. Being healthy and fit gives you confidence, builds self-esteem, and empowers you to be your best, regardless of size.”
Kozloff grew up in Wyomissing, the youngest of four siblings. She attended the University of Michigan, and then went on to Drexel University for her MBA.
After spending eight years in Philadelphia, she and her now-husband moved back to Wyomissing and married. During all of that time, Kozloff knew she wanted to someday own her own business, and so after graduating from Drexel with her MBA, she launched Lolly, a line of “cute, sassy underwear with cheeky sayings across the bum,” she said.
“I traveled the country selling these at girls’ night out events,” she says. But she soon realized there was a market that was being underserved in many ways.
“I’d hear all the time from women who wanted me to add plus sizes to our offerings because they, too, wanted fun, sassy underwear!”
She listened and did something about it, and she found that it changed her business, increasing sales dramatically.
“The plus-size women were some of my best customers,” Kozloff said. “We’d sell anywhere from 800 to 1,000 pairs of underwear in a four-day event.”
Yet it wasn’t just underwear these women were looking for. Kozloff was also working as a personal trainer at the time and would hear from plus-size women about how badly they wanted the same trendy workout clothes that were available in smaller sizes, but they just couldn’t find any.
“I did some research,” she said, “and I realized there was very little, if any, cute, attractive active wear for women over a size 14.”
Being hit from both directions, Kozloff realized there must be something to this.
“I could really see that plus-size women were completely underserved,” she said.
This realization led her to launch Taffy Activewear, which featured active wear available in sizes up to 3X. Her Taffy line was a success, selling into retailers such as TJMaxx and Burlington Coat Factory.
“But I really didn’t like the idea of separating this plus-size category out,” Kozloff said. She had discovered from listening to her customers that “they wanted to participate in the same trends and styles that everyone else was getting, not be given something different due to their size.”
That realization led to the launch of her current brand, Katie K. Active, which offers the same styles and colors across the whole size range, from small to 3X.
“My experience with the plus-size industry helped me develop our double-fit technology, ensuring the proper fit throughout the size range,” Kozloff said.
She also likes to include her mother and sister in the design decisions because, as she said, “they are both very stylish and active, so their input is extremely helpful.”
Although starting her own business had been her dream, Kozloff said there was some fear involved naturally, but more so, she was very excited because she knew she had found a niche and was working to fill it.
“To get such a great reaction right away was amazing,” she said. “Now that the business has grown, there’s definitely more stress and pressure, but it’s still thrilling.”
Always a big proponent of fitness and health, Kozloff said, “I have never been a size 2 so I’ve always felt you could be fit and healthy at any size.”
The fact that she’s now been able to provide fashionable active wear for women of every size is a great source of pride.
“When I’ve done trunk shows, I’ve had women hug me and thank me for making stylish performance wear in their size,” she said. “They’re so excited to be able to have access to active wear that fits them, looks great on them, and that they feel confident in. That is really rewarding!”
In spite of her great success, Kozloff admits she is still learning.
“Every day I learn something new and sometimes that means tough lessons, and other times I’ll see my intuition rewarded,” she said. “The best thing I ever did was search out mentors. It’s been amazing to have such a wonderful network of supportive mentors who are really there to help me succeed.”
Being a part of her local community is important to Kozloff, and she’s happy to be able to say that Katie K. Active is involved in giving back, including a virtual 5K in 2015 that benefitted four charities. Kozloff is personally also involved with the Junior League of Reading.
What has she learned about herself as she’s traveled the road to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
“You really have to love what you do and believe in yourself because it is hard to start a business or build or run a business,” Kozloff said. “There are lots of ups and downs, but my husband and family are especially wonderful. I have an amazing support group. … They are definitely my cheerleaders. It’s awesome knowing I have them behind me.” BW