How Weave Gotcha Covered! Grew its Business and Impact in Kansas City
We Create KC, our annual report on the state of Kansas City entrepreneurship, is out. This is our fifth report, and this year we are focusing on the six imperatives the community laid out to reach Kansas City's goal of becoming America's most entrepreneurial city:
- maximizing entrepreneurial support resources
- telling the story of KC entrepreneurship
- creating a strong entrepreneurial pipeline
- building talent
- engaging the corporate community
- increasing available startup and growth capital.
To celebrate the release of the report, we're catching up with entrepreneurs who were featured in previous We Create reports.
“If you don’t know it exists, you can’t dream it.” That’s how entrepreneur Kelly Wilson closed the story about her custom drapery and furnishings business, Weave Gotcha Covered!, in our 2016 We Create KC report.
At that time, she was preparing her business for growth. An alumna of the ScaleUP! Kansas City program, she had just taken out her first microloan for $29,000 after a decade in business, which gave her the ability to dream about where her business could be.
Not too long after the 2016 state of entrepreneurship report was released, Weave Gotcha Covered! was awarded as a top 10 small business by the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. And that was only the first time we saw Kelly’s name in the news in 2017:
“Scaling a business is hard.” Kelly has no qualms admitting that. “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
But Kelly wasn’t alone. After receiving the honor of top 10 small business in 2016, the Kansas City community began to coalesce around the Weave Gotcha Covered! mission to empower women to rise up out of their difficult life circumstances through job training and employment. And on top of that momentum, the connections Kelly made during ScaleUP! Kansas City began to pay off (PSA: this free program is accepting applications).
“With the loan we received through the Women’s Business Center, we were able purchase a branded vehicle and hire a COO. Those investments are already returning great results.” The COO has helped Weave Gotcha Covered! grow—revenue is up for another year in a row, the team has expanded their product offerings to include a design lab and in January the team opened a vocational training center called The Sewing Labs.
The goal of the Sewing Labs is trifold—teach job skills, create a safe and supportive environment for marginalized women and continue America’s rich history in the sewing, fabric and fiber arts.
“Opening The Sewing Labs is a huge step for us toward achieving our mission. We’ve always set out to be a social enterprise.”
To further the social mission, Kelly and the Sewing Labs teamed up with three other workforce development projects—Culinary Cornerstones Training Program, the Grooming Project and Cultivate Hope—to form KC Works Together.
“With our combined strength and know how, our goal is grow and serve more efficiently and effectively.”
Building a knowledgeable and experienced team is Kelly’s primary tactic in managing the growth of her business. In the past year, she added a virtual CFO to the Weave Gotcha Covered! lineup, another ScaleUP! Kansas City connection. And she has started learning from other, more experienced entrepreneurs by building a network through National Association of Women Business Owners.
“I feel like after over a decade in business, I’ve only started to tap into Kansas City’s entrepreneurial resource network. The past year we’ve focused on getting traction and growing. The next year is all about strengthening what we’ve built so that we can continue to thrive.”
One of Kelly’s projects in 2017 was to build out a strategic marketing plan for Weave Gotcha Covered!, which to this point has relied on word of mouth and the aforementioned branded vehicle.
Those marketing efforts immediately received a boost, Weave Gotcha Covered! was in the running yet again in 2017 to become the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s small business of the year.
“The past year has been a big success for our business." Weave Gotcha Covered! also bought their first building, made their television debut on HGTV's Bargain Mansions and Kelly was accepted tothe Spring cohort of Goldman Sachs' 10k Small Businesses.
"And 2018 is looking good as well. But just as all seamstresses know, there’s only one way to build a beautiful quilt—one stitch at a time.”
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