Everyday Empires: Kate Gaffney of Avryn Co.
How a personal quest for the perfect key wristlet led Kate to found Avryn Co., a business for women, by women.
Welcome back to Everyday Empires, your weekly interview series spotlighting everyday founders. Today, I’m excited to share the story of Kate Gaffney and her venture, Avryn Co.
A personal quest for the perfect key wristlet led Kate to create Avryn Co., a beloved brand crafting minimalist, leather essentials from their studio in Greenville, SC. Follow them @avrynco on Instagram.
We chatted about:
How her quest for the perfect key wristlet led to starting a business
How she went from idea to first customer in 6 days (6 days!)
A simple formula to launch a successful product
Hi Kate, thanks for being on Everyday Empires! To kick us off, can you tell us about Avryn Co.? What is it and who is it for?
Avryn Co. is a female founded company on a mission to lighten the everyday load of women with our handcrafted leather wristlets and wallets.
Where’d the idea come from and was it obvious you should take action on it or were you on the fence about it?
The idea for our first product came from a personal daily pain point–my keys, in my hands, where other things (children, groceries, work bags, coffee cups) needed to be.
Sure, key wristlets abound, but none I could find checked all the boxes. The boxes being…
Stylish (genuine leather preferred)
Easy to slide over my wrist
Flexible and sleek
Easy on/off for keys, fobs etc (main keyring cannot be a split ring)
Once the solution came to mind it was obvious that I wanted to make it not only for myself but also for others that I thought might be out there searching for the same solution.
We added the card wallet a few months later to create the perfect minimalist grab-and-go option!
Editor’s note: I just want to quickly point out that Kate was solving a pain point she experienced personally. She noticed something in her life (the keys in her hands) that she imagined could be better, and envisioned a solution. This is a common pattern among founders I’ve spoken with.
Can you briefly walk us through the steps you took to go from an idea to a real product in customers' hands?
We started with just the wristlet (no wallet) and went from idea to Etsy shop and our first sale in 6 days.
I knew exactly what I wanted to make and had a general idea of how to make it so I ordered a hole punch, leather, grommets, and keyrings and once it all arrived I was able to make a small batch of wristlets with two different leathers. We took product photos the next day and launched the Etsy shop. Our first sale was to a friend that bought it for another friend who still uses that first wristlet to this day.
Editor’s note: Did you read that? 6 days! Kate went from idea to Etsy shop and her first sale in 6 DAYS. Talk about being action-oriented. Wow! Worth noting that another founder I featured who has a physical product built his first prototype the day after he had the idea. There seems to be something to making it “real” as quickly as possible when you have an idea.
How’d you get your first 10 customers? Where has most of your growth come from since?
We started on Etsy, so our first 10 customers were a mix of buyers who found us on the Etsy marketplace, and friends/friends of friends that heard about Avryn Co. on Instagram. We’ve grown largely through organic marketing on Instagram and word of mouth + gifting. Having a giftable product definitely helps with organic growth.
Do you have any key financial metrics, customer feedback, or other indicators of performance you’re comfortable sharing with us?
In just under 4 years we’ve helped give a hand to over 20,000 women through our wristlets/wristlet-wallet sets. We have over a thousand glowing 5 star reviews and receive positive customer feedback nearly daily on Instagram through DMs or story shares.
What’s the best thing about being the founder of Avryn Co.? Have you had any “pinch me” moments?
This whole journey is a pinch me moment. I never set out to start a “for real” business so the fact that I’m almost 4 years into running a business that helps women every day and allows me to have the work flexibility I want for myself and my family is pretty dang cool.
I love that! Now, let’s say someone reading this is considering launching their own physical product. What’s the best piece of advice you could give them?
Start simply. One solid problem-solving product and great photography can take you pretty far and help you feel out if the demand is there before you go all-in.
Are there any key resources (online communities, websites, services, books, etc) you’d suggest they check out?
I’m not a great reader of nonfiction or business books in general. And most business podcasts stress me out and make me feel like I should be doing more, faster, bigger, better (there are a few solid exceptions).
My best resource has been watching and talking with other business owners. Even from afar you can start to tell what’s working, what isn’t, and lessons you can apply to your own business.
To others I would say, look to the other small businesses in your community or businesses you admire that share some behind the scenes online and learn through observation first. If you want their advice or help, make it as easy as possible for them to say yes. (make your questions clear and easy to answer, take them to coffee/lunch, offer something you have/know in return). Business owners love to be helpful but are also extremely busy so making it an easy yes will help everyone.
Re: services, I think there’s a lot to be said for using the right services but it depends a lot on what sort of business you’re running. In general I’d say keep it simple until simple no longer works and then ask another business what they did to solve X problem.
Lastly, where should readers follow you if they want to keep up with you?
Our monthly email newsletter keeps our community up to date on what’s coming up, and Instagram (@avrynco) is where we love to show behind the scenes and connect with our community. Readers can learn more about what we offer and shop at avrynco.com!
That’s a wrap
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Until next week,
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