Interview With Brianna Kilcullen
Describe your product or service:
“Sustainable towels made out of hemp.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“Anact is an activist brand that just so happens to make your favorite towel. We believe in simple acts that create positive impact. Our act is creating sustainable products that solve problems while making a more transparent and environmentally friendly textile industry. Anact was founded in 2018 by Brianna Kilcullen, a veteran of the apparel industry who ran sustainability programs at Under Armour and prAna, a subsidiary of Columbia Sportswear.
Anact was successfully funded on Kickstarter in 2019 and launched online during the height of the pandemic in 2020 out of Jacksonville, Florida. Anact towels are currently sold throughout the United States and more than 10+ countries around the world.
Anact’s values are based on the idea that simple acts make a positive impact on the world around you. Anact's acts are to disrupt the textile industry through education while also pushing to innovate and automate the hemp textile supply chain in the markets they serve.
Anact believes in closing the loop of the supply chain by creating products that are made to last and can be repurposed once their original use is complete. Anact wants to disrupt the textile industry in every facet of what they do by not only creating a beautiful and useful product that gives back to the farmers, garment workers, and customers but is also sustainable without any sacrifice. Each product comes with an impact score that is provided by Greenstory.”
How are you funded? I.e. type of funding, number of funding rounds, total funding amount.
“Raised $300,000 in 2021 and raising $500,000 in 2022.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them!
“We're a team of eight (one full-time and seven part-time employees). We love what we do and how we can each take simple acts every day to create the world that we want to see!”
How did you come up with your startup's name? Did you have other names you considered?
“We wanted to create a movement within the brand name, so we chose ‘Anact,’ which is short for ‘an act’ whether it be an act of kindness, an act of goodwill, or the simple act of creating impact.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“No! My parents taught me to get a great corporate job with a 401(k) + stock + benefits so that I had a secure lifestyle. I did what they told me to do, but I wasn't happy. I did a lot of self-reflection, prayer, and meditation (plus the 2016 election) to come to the conclusion that I was going to take the jump and start Anact!”
What was the biggest obstacle you encountered while launching your company? How did you overcome it?
“Learning how to fundraise has been one of the most difficult challenges to date. I have overcome it by focusing on how to build relationships with like-minded partners versus asking for money in order to create a healthy foundation that is in alignment with the brand's vision and values.”
Feeling inspired? Learn how to launch your company with our guide on how to start a startup.
Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?
“Anact's DTC business is largely driven by the West Coast of the United States in states such as California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. The demographic is mostly women and men in their 30s-40s who are customers of Patagonia.
Anact's wholesale customers are boutique hotels, big box retailers, spas, gyms, and yoga studios.
Anact has established the right market based on a lot of trial and error. We originally wanted to start off wholesale, but we launched during the beginning of the pandemic and were forced to go DTC.”
What's your primary marketing strategy?
“Anact's SEO is crushing it for us which is attracting wholesale buyers and customers directly to Anact via Google. We then follow up with email flows to keep customers engaged in the Anact community.
For wholesale, Anact offers a press kit of digital assets to make it easy to promote Anact. Anact is working with strategic sales reps to build their wholesale accounts as well as one of the top factories in the world for towels.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“We focus on our monthly P&L numbers and growth on sales channels.”
What's your favorite startup book and podcast?
“Podcast: ‘How I Built This,’ and for books, ‘The Alchemist’ and ‘The One Thing.’”
What is a song or artist that you listen to for motivation?
“Lil Wayne, Drake, Dermot Kennedy, and Mac Miller.”
Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“How spiritual it is.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“I started a weekly jogging club that meets every Saturday AM in Austin, TX. I also wake up every morning and meditate and pray before I do anything else.”
When did you know it was time to quit your day job to focus on your startup?
“When I became physically ill driving to work every morning.”
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
“Babysitting! How to problem solve and read people's body language.”