An Interview with Kay Sides, Owner of HATCh

by Jerome Knyszewski
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Kay Sides, owner of HATCh, talks about how to take a company from good to great

Kay Sides has run HATCh, HATCh Consulting, and HATCh Communications as owner for more than twenty years. Prior to owning the company, she has worked as creative director and buyer for Maxfield LA.

With HATCh, Kay Sides believes that her company is the “culmination of years in the fashion industry,” and combined with her intense “lifelong passion of fashion and art.” She has enjoyed a great career in the luxury industry, which led her to create a “progressive and dimensional environment,” which is also the “first of its kind.” HATCh, as a “modern interpretation showroom,” is the first of its kind to include “segments of contemporary jewelry, fine jewelry, footwear, women’s and men’s large commercial projects” together with “young designer smaller ones.”

However, Kay Sides has also run HATCh with “branding and innovation” as a specialty. The company has enjoyed the privilege of “launching, building, and managing” a diverse array of brands like “James Perse, Rick Owens, Katayone Adeli, Victoria Beckham, Giles and Brother, Kelly Wearstler, Lacoste, Alexander McQueen MCQ, Yohji Yamamoto—Coming Soon, Aviator Nation, Madeworn, Woolrich, JRB, PRPS,” among others.

Over the years, HATCh has consistently stuck to its founding philosophy and its starting vision. Kay Sides has simply expanded its geography, opening larger spaces in New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles.

Check out more interviews with seasoned business owners here.

Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Kay Sides: I have the great honor of owning HATCh, one of the few multi-dimensional fashion agencies in the US with locations in NY, LA and Dallas. We have the privilege of helping to build some of the largest young designer and contemporary brands in the US and globally. We create an integrated sales, marketing and distribution strategy for each project and then integrate and manage it step by step. ROAM was created 2 years ago out of my own need in searching for a cool, fashionable dimensional shoe that was really well made and affordable. I wanted something with luxury details but didn’t cost a fortune. I also wanted something that I could wear to the gym, to work, to meetings, to walking my dog, school drop offs, grabbing coffee and something that would work as an option for the luxury, streetwear or contemporary customer.

Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Kay Sides: It was a steep learning curve for sure. As much as I knew exactly what I wanted which was very unique, I didn’t know anything about manufacturing shoes. Obviously, lots of tries and restarts to get the product exactly how I had it envisioned in my mind. It definitely takes a while when you are creating something from just an idea. I never thought about quitting as I Just kept my focus and eye on the bigger picture. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get tough, working nonstop, no monetary gain as everything just goes back in (if you’re lucky). Gratefully, I have always been a really disciplined and hardworking individual. I grew up playing a lot of sports and also trained as a very serious ballerina from the time I was 5. My mom and dad were always extremely supportive but also made me figure out a lot of things on my own even as a very young child.

Jerome Knyszewski: Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.

Kay Sides:

  1. No one makes it alone, you need a strong team and team culture. To do so you have to lead with action not words. There’s nothing I don’t ask of my team that I don’t do myself or then some. I also don’t need to talk about what I do as they see it, day in and day out.

  2. Lead with gratitude and appreciation as your beacon. We have an amazing team culture for both HATCh and ROAM and that is because there is constant communication of appreciation to each other, to our clients, to our customers.

  3. A great company has teammates that are completely accountable. You have to allow people the space to rise to by giving them a lot of support, creating a safe environment, making expectations clear and creating an environment where mistakes and mishaps are embraced for learning and growth.

  4. Great communication is key in taking a good company to great. I spend an inordinate amount of time thoughtfully communicating to all my teams. I operate with complete transparency and truthfulness …

  5. Telling people the truth instead of what they want to hear creates the most growth and ultimately builds the greatest teams. It’s tough, to sometimes call teammates out, but no one ever grows or learns without hearing the truth. It takes a lot more time and in my opinion shows a lot more love and respect if you share the honest truth with people even if it’s not necessarily what they want to hear.

Jerome Knyszewski: Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?

Kay Sides: I have always incorporated service into our business platform. For HATCh — we have raised over hundreds of thousands of dollars for different organizations over the years and have aligned in a multitude of ways. I can’t speak for other businesses but again, it’s just who I am and how I was raised. My mom was very service driven and we were raised to just be purposeful and think of others. It doesn’t matter what kind of business, you can make an impact in so many ways. For ROAM, our social impact is focused on taking as many children as we can outside to have an experience in nature. Sadly, we had to cancel all of our initiatives this year due to COVID but I can’t wait to hopefully do that. This is also something super truthful to me and how I was raised and how I raised my daughter. I grew up in Hawaii and was fortunate to spend 95% of my time outdoors in nature. I raised my daughter back packing, climbing, camping, trekking and I know firsthand what an incredible teacher nature is on so many levels.

Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?

Kay Sides: If you have an authentic and truthful product you will create an authentic and truthful engagement. Everyone knows when it’s not really aligned and that’s when things go left. People try all kinds of gimmicks to boost sales but it’s not lasting…It all has to start with the truth from the inception.

Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?

Kay Sides: Be who you say you are.

Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?

Kay Sides: You can find me on Instagram:

Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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