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Secrets of Success: Kimberly Caccavo and Kate Nowlan

Rieva Lesonsky
secrets of success

There are some “rules” of business success most entrepreneurs abide by. But many also have their own “secrets”—things they do or believe that helped them achieve success. In “Secrets of Success”, a weekly interview series here at’s Small Business Forum, I ask some of today’s smartest, most innovative and successful business owners to share their insights and secrets of success with you.

Meet: Kimberly Caccavo and Kate Nowlan, two moms who hatched their business idea while on a run. In 2013, they decided to jump into the activewear market and take on industry giants like Lulelemon and Nike. GRACEDBYGRIT, their initial direct-to-consumer, “real-woman first” approach worked so well, they recently opened their first physical location in Solana Beach, California (just north of San Diego). Their high-quality, competitively priced merchandise is made in America, with fabrics imported from Italy.

Caccavo says, “We started this company to make women look, feel and perform better. We encourage women to face their gritty moments and sweat their way through them. It is grit that often gives us grace.”

Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Kimberly Caccavo: I wanted to be an astronaut. Luckily, I had the opportunity to work on the main combustion chamber of the main engine of the Space Shuttle. It was such a great experience and a chance to meet the men and women who became astronauts. I really loved the business side of things and the materials used for the shuttle. Business was a better fit for me.

Kate Nowlan: I wanted to be a businesswoman…go figure!

Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?

Caccavo and Nowlan: We wanted to create clothing for women that made them look and feel good so that they could perform better. We were running one day and noticed the clothes what women were wearing and thought about the changes that would make athletic apparel better: safety features, technical fabric and a fit that made your butt and legs look better. We also love working together.

Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?

Caccavo and Nowlan: We ordered some swimsuit fabric with compression to test for our knickers and tops. We realized this fabric hadn’t been discovered in the athletic apparel market and we could use it to make a difference in performance. It exemplifies the premium quality and uniqueness of our brand.

Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?

Caccavo and Nowlan: The best advice we have received is that people begin as they intend to continue. That is now what we tell others too. We work with fabulous, smart, capable women who are supporting our growth and sharing our success and they all began as they intended to continue!

Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?

Caccavo and Nowlan: Find time everyday that is your focus time. For us, we get up each day at 5:15 a.m. for a standing 5:30 conference call. It allows us to power through work completely focused with no interruptions.

Lesonsky: Do you have a 2015 small business prediction?

Caccavo and Nowlan: We opened our first retail store, are running a crowdfunding campaign, will be on a national TV network for the largest virtual trunk show and are hoping to do five times the revenue as 2014. It is go big or go home for 2015!

As far as a general small business prediction: The time is right for small businesses. Interest rates are low, and technology is moving at such a rapid pace. Small businesses are able to communicate easily and project a professional image sooner than ever before. Square, PayPal and remote technologies make things so easy now.

Lesonsky: What’s your favorite book?

Caccavo: Jasper Johns by Michael Crichton

Nowlan: To Kill a Mockingbird

Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?

Caccavo and Nowlan: “Make it happen.”

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Photo Credit: Tiffany Chien/Guest Of A Guest



Author information

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.