We’re thrilled to talk about your journey from MBA to intimates! Tell us a bit about yourself
Hello, Grayson community! My name is Phoebe Kunitomi, and I am the founder of okko. The best way to describe myself is equally left- and right-brained. On one end, I studied economics at Georgetown then got my MBA at Wharton. I love applying my creative energy. In high school, I designed my own prom dress. At okko, I lead all creative direction and design, ranging from directing photo shoots to designing brand assets.
Before okko, you worked in the B2B space at the intersection of technology and financial regulation - pretty analytical stuff, how has that helped you as you face obstacles now?
As a sole founder, I have to deal with a lot of challenges that vary in severity and complexity. Since the pandemic started, I think the biggest obstacle our company faced is trying to continue to grow the business from a sales perspective. Pre-pandemic, okko drove its revenue from various channels: our website, retail partnerships, and in-person events. Now, orders predominantly come through a single channel: our website. As we are heavily reliant on a single channel, my challenge has been trying to diversify and grow the sources of website traffic. That means looking into different digital ad platforms as well as growing our #knockout community generally.
What do you think people can do to band together?
Everyone has biases and prejudices. It is human nature. However, I think what sets some people apart is the ability to recognize what those biases are and correct them before they transform into harmful or negative behaviors. I believe that once we break down these walls, we become more open minded to accepting and banding with others.
What techniques or advice do you have for managing your mental health?
For me, self-care and mental health are states of being that are heavily intertwined. Sometimes, self-care can be small things. For example, my weekly mani/pedi is my sacred “me” time (when we could go to get one), and I enjoy tidying up to create a calm living space. However, I also define self-care as the foundational changes we make for better mental health over the long haul. I regularly see a therapist (she’s amazing) to help me work through these improvements. I want to constantly evolve to become a better person for me and my loved ones.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned or are learning?
Like most people, I have had my ups and downs throughout this pandemic, but I am grateful to be healthy and happy. Based on the experience so far, the biggest lesson has been to give myself a break sometimes. Times are tough, and we need strength, mental and physical, to get through it. To build and maintain that strength, I have to remember to rest and take care of myself first.
What inspires your work?
My #1 source of inspiration is the many women I have met while building out okko. It is actually reflected in our name: okko stands for ‘Our Kind of #KnockOut.’ Our name is an homage to all the women who live unapologetically on their own terms. This confidence is what gets our team going every single morning.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to enter into your field?
My mentor once told me: “You have a dream, and you need to follow it.” For everyone out there with a dream to become an entrepreneur, go out and do it. With more small businesses and diverse founders, the world will be a better place. Owning a business is definitely trying at times, but we entrepreneurs are scrappy and will figure it out.
Silver lining / what are you thankful for?
I am thankful because my family, friends, okko team, and I are all healthy. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day and forget about what really matters. For me, that’s the wonderful people who have supported me and whom I love very much.
“My superpower is invisibility, just like okko’s undies.”