Cleo Woman

Kayti O'Connell

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey to where you are today?

Hi Everyone! I’m Kayti, the Founder + CEO of MATE - a clean essentials brand made with Organic, non-toxic, and natural materials. I started my company by selling vintage tees about 10 years ago as a side hustle, which then turned into me starting my own line based off of my favorite vintage pieces. For years, our line only consisted of graphic t-shirts. It wasn’t until 2018 that I started learning a lot more about sustainability and clean materials. Based on my learnings, I decided to pivot the brand entirely and focus on how to offer the cleanest and healthiest product possible to our community. Today, we offer loungewear, activewear, sleepwear, and a range of other comfy essentials. 

What’s your favorite part about running your own business?

I love building and creating - it’s beyond rewarding to see how far we’ve come since the early days. I’ve learned so much over the years and this business continually challenges me in new ways (almost every day). We’ve been bootstrapped since day one and I love being able to go at my own pace without anyone to answer to but myself and my team. 

What has been your biggest challenge you have faced with running your own business?

It feels like every month poses a completely new set of challenges depending on what stage of growth we are at. Growth is super messy and can be very hard to navigate as you start scaling, especially when your team goes from 10-15+ people in a short period of time. Over the past year, our team doubled in size and a lot of the processes and structure we had in place didn’t make sense any more. We’ve had to work really hard and closely with the team to rebuild systems that were going to take us to the next level. Being nimble and ready to adapt is my forever motto for building a brand. 

What is your favorite Mate The Label product or one that you couldn’t live without?

I live for our Oversized Fleece Sweatshirt, it’s so cozy and perfect for maternity as I am currently 9 months pregnant!

Do you have any daily rituals that help keep you grounded?

Yes, I do Transcendental Meditation for 20 minutes in the AM and afternoon, it’s been a total game changer for me. I also go on very quick (5 min) walks a few times a day to move my body and get some sunshine. 

What is your favorite part about the fall season?

Cozy clothes of course, and warm teas 

What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?

Be better about staying in touch with friends - I struggle with finding the time to connect with people while I’ve been laser focused on growing this business. 

Any upcoming travel plans or bucket list destinations you can’t wait to visit?

I am a few weeks away from having my first baby, so no immediate travel plans for awhile but we are planning on going to Kauai next Summer for an extended period of time. Kauai is one of our favorite places to visit as we got engaged and married there and can’t wait to take our baby boy.

What is a favorite quote of yours? Or a special saying that you go back to time and time again?

“I will never have this version of me again. Let me slow down and be with her.” - Rumi. This saying is my screensaver on my phone and has been really helpful for me during pregnancy. We tend to always be thinking about what’s next and get detached from enjoying the present moment. 

Do you have any book or podcast recommendations that you are especially loving right now for our community?

For podcasts, I love Startup Therapy, Female Founder’s Club, and the Expanded podcast. I am currently reading The 4th Trimester and it’s been a great resource as I prepare to become a new mama, highly recommend it.