What is the story behind creating FITKYT?
FITKYT is the story of two successful women who believe fitness products can empower people to be resilient and healthy. It started when Melissa found herself turning to exercise to calm her mind, relieve anxiety and stress—and most of all, to do something for herself. Recreational swimming became Melissa’s outlet for dealing with a divorce, moving homes, and a work restructure. Collectively, these factors took a toll, leading to diagnoses of chronic fatigue and depression.
The movement was helping a great deal to clear her mind and find her voice again, but she couldn’t find the products to keep up with her. She needed a workout bag where she could leave her goggles, ear plugs, swim cap, flip-flops, toiletries and kick board, without having to pack and unpack everything. But it didn’t stop there. The perfect bag had to be versatile for using in the showers and stowing in a gym locker. And at home, it had to hang easily on a clothesline, a door or a cupboard, so that it could dry out between workouts. She scoured retailers for the perfect bag, and when she couldn't find it, she decided to make her own.
Using her daughter's sewing machine, she started designing the very first concept for the patent-pending sports utility bag, Hang-Fold-Go, and that’s when Melissa’s Harvard Business School classmate Katie Duffin got on board. Katie, a former collegiate softball player and longtime sales and supply chain leader, immediately saw the utility in the design for other sports, fitness and the wellness industry. They both left their full time jobs and with this, FITKYT’s journey began.
Katie Duffin - Co Founder
Tell us a bit more about the founders
Even though we are based on the opposite side of the world (Katie in St Louis & Melissa in Melbourne), both of us were at similar places personally and professionally. We believe that it was fate (the universe doesn’t often make mistakes) when we first met in Boston in 2018.
We both had experienced major trauma and loss at a young age. Education and sport, was our solace enabling us to not have to deal fully with our earlier experiences. This was later replaced with working longer hours and climbing the corporate ladder. Whilst we both have been very successful in our own right and in our corporate careers, there was still an unfulfilled yearning.
For Katie, the unfulfilled yearning was knowing that she was not living her true life calling. A deep desire to live a life of service and to truly raise up individuals, families and communities - is what drives her. By actively participating in everyday life with them, being present not just physically, but by sharing those little moments that are truly precious and so meaningful. ‘’I know that living authentically is the most powerful thing I can do for myself”, says Katie.
For Melissa, the calling was based upon a deep desire to prove that she was good enough and worthy of being accepted. Melissa wants to be able to help others who have had similar experiences, trying to come to terms with childhood trauma and to help remove the stigma around depression and mental health.
What does the FITKYT brand stand for?
We believe that everybody is amazing and everything we’ve been through has prepared us for this next evolution of ourselves. Our story is one of resilience, perseverance and healing, which has led to a desire, and a need to unlock something more, within us. When we move with intention, we see glimpses of this magic.
We are here to help you embrace the magic, to live life in alignment, with intention and ease. Our vision is a community who is awakened to live louder as their authentic self. One where we come home, together, to celebrate living out our big dreams, small wins, and everything in between.
What is your company in less than 10 words?
An ecommerce health and wellness lifestyle business.
What are the core values of FITKYT?
The three core values that have meaning and are personal to both Katie and Melissa are:
Why is now the time for FITKYT to exist?
Because today is sooner than tomorrow!
As we all emerge into this post-pandemic space, it is with a spirit of gratitude and enhanced knowledge about what is most important and valuable to all of us. We know that people want companies to be managed differently. We are creating a company that is closely connected to the community, offers true flexibility, and who values each one of us, as individuals and for our own unique humanity. FITKYT is a conduit to do exactly that.
What is the problem that FITKYT is trying to solve?
You are time-impoverished and exacerbated by society’s reinforcement of your identity. There are no winners living life in this paradigm. Between children, partners, career, the family pet and aging parents, you are in a constant state of looking after others. As a result, you come last in your own life. Health, wellness and your own interests are the first to fall off your to-do list. We aim to make looking after yourself easier, more rewarding and intentional, so that you remember the magic within.
Why is FITKYT the one to solve this problem?
We are this person. We have had these experiences where we’ve lived an inauthentic life, driven by the need to continually please others whose interests are not ours. We’ve pushed ourselves to burnout, we’ve been in depths of despair and now is our time to awaken the magic within us.
What credentials do you have?
Co-Founder, Katie, lives in St Louis, USA. She has worked in product based businesses for the majority of her working career, specialising in consumer packaged goods, manufacturing, operations and supply chain. She is a Harvard Business School Alumnus, who holds an MBA in supply chain leadership and human resource management and has a Bachelor's degree in Political Science.
Melissa is based in Melbourne, Australia. She has worked predominantly in banking and finance and later in product and digital innovation, lecturing at RMIT University. She is a Harvard Business School PLD 27 alumnus, a Y Combinator start-up school and a Stanford Innovation and Entrepreneurship graduate. She has a Bachelor's degree in business, majoring in marketing and management.
The broader FITKYT team is made up of fitness, yoga, sports, dance & wellness coaches and enthusiasts and all are big self-care advocates. Which is why the team is passionate about working with our customers and who believe in FITKYT and us!
How do you choose products for FITKYT?
We have a hands-on approach to every aspect of product design, development, testing, manufacturing, quality control and shipping. From our home to yours!
Our products are focused on function, durability and quality. When you have limited time to yourself, you want products that are dependable and are going to work each and every time and they get the results that you need. All of our products are created by us and tested on us (real people) for effectiveness.
We both have a learning mindset, so we are open to feedback. If you would like to see a new product offering, or a change to an existing product, just let us know. We would love to hear your suggestions.
What are your views on customer experience?
Customers are ultimately what makes a business successful. Providing excellent customer experiences and care, including attention to detail is what we want to be known for. From the beginning of a customer journey right through to post purchase and use, the quality of the customer experience is really important to us. We offer a customer satisfaction and money back guarantee for this very reason.
Does FITKYT support a cause?
We are both huge advocates of supporting mental illness at a community and grassroots level. Through our ambassadors based in St Louis, we currently offer low cost yoga classes by subsidising the instructors fees. We would love to expand this offering as we grow.
Where do you see FITKYT in 3 years time?
We have the opportunity to expand our product line across different types of sports, as well as by seasonal color, styles and sizes all using our patent pending design. Developing a range by athletes for athletes would be pretty amazing. We also feel the ground swell of people who are craving personal connection and we would love to offer more personalized customer experiences. A FITKYT wellness retreat is also something that we would like to do at some point!