Three tips for becoming a profitable business:
- Adaptive clothing startup Care+Wear said hiring top talent proved integral to reaching profitability.
- Tapping a range of industry experts to understand its B2C and B2B customers and serve their distinct needs also helped pave the path to profitability.
- And mastering the art of the cold call proved invaluable to the startup’s success.
Startups whose sales soar seemingly out of the gate or swiftly reach $1 billion unicorn status
tend to dominate buzz in the world of business. But those vanity metrics can detract from the ultimate measure of success and sustainable growth: profitability.
Here, Chaitenya ‘Chat’ Razdan, founder and CEO of Care+Wear, which makes adaptive clothing for the healthcare market, shares the behind-the-scenes story of the startup’s path to profitability.
Partnering with industry experts and end users — while armed with a ‘small and mighty team’
I founded Care+Wear in 2014 with one product — a cover for a PICC line, a semi-permanent IV, created to empower patients receiving treatment through a PICC line. Since then, all of our products have focused on improving the healthcare experience for patients and clinicians alike, restoring dignity and humanity to help them heal from the inside out.
We bridge fashion and function to create adaptive products [like hoodies with access to medical ports, scrubs and patient gowns] for those providing and receiving clinical care.
Care+Wear reached profitability in 2020. During the pandemic, we heard countless stories from our community of clinicians about the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) available. We quickly pivoted our business model to provide over 15 million units of PPE to over 90 organizations, hospitals and governments at the height of the pandemic.
In addition, the growth of the Care+Wear community and the number of direct-to-consumer sales completed in the past six months are direct results of actively listening to our buyers and fellow industry experts.
One of the key factors that has contributed to the success of Care+Wear is the passion and dedication of our small and mighty team. Almost every member of our 16-person team has been personally affected by the healthcare experience of a loved one or even themselves. They bring personal experience, compassion and creativity to all the work they do.
[Read: Scaling Startups Share Their Winning Customer Retention Strategies]
By partnering with our end users, both patients and clinicians, we ensure that we are creating a product that people want to wear as they get back to living their lives.
Developing a proprietary design process that ‘bridges fashion and function’ to outshine competitive fare
Separately, Care+Wear follows a three-pronged proprietary design process for the development of each and every product. By partnering with clinicians, we develop our own proprietary IP and ensure that our products are medically superior to everything else on the market. By partnering with our end users, both patients and clinicians, we ensure that we are creating a product that people want to wear as they get back to living their lives. And by bringing in fashion, manufacturing and design, we are incorporating the latest trends, technologies and designs to create best-in-class products.
Care+Wear is now the go-to brand for adaptive clothing with many of the world’s leading healthcare organizations, including the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins Medicine, NYU Langone Health and others.
[The brand’s fashion and function model] is uniquely represented in the recent launch of our first-ever scrubs collection, created in collaboration with famed fashion designer Josie Natori, which is Care+Wear’s third fashion collaboration. Previous collaborations include [products from] Oscar de la Renta and the Parsons School of Design.
[Read: 3 Pandemic-Fueled Commerce Trends Poised to Yield Long-Term Growth for Businesses]
On mastering the ‘art of the cold call’: Reaching out to Oscar de la Renta was ‘one of the most important cold emails of my life’
As a former strategy consultant and investment banker starting a company hoping to bridge fashion and function, I realized how important it was to work with experts. So, I began by cold-calling industry experts — designers, doctors, hospitals, launderers and more — to create Care+Wear, taking it from an idea to an industry leader that merges disparate industries. All of this was made possible thanks to cold calls.
I remember when I first thought about approaching Oscar de la Renta — this luxury brand and their mission were at the top of my dream list of collaborators. I had the chance to hear their CEO Alex Bolen speak at a Fashion Week event and loved how he reiterated that his goal was for their customers to ‘live their lives.’ This mantra is similar to how I speak about Care+Wear: We want people to feel like themselves and get back to living their lives. As I dug into more research, I not only saw how much they supported cancer research but learned that Oscar de la Renta himself had fought cancer until his untimely death in 2014. I reached out directly to Mr. Bolen, one of the best — and most important — cold emails of my life. In 2018, Care+Wear launched the Chest Port Access Hoodie in honor of Oscar de la Renta.
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Published November 08, 2021