For women in business, life can seem like a constant juggling act. As a new mom, Columbia business school graduate, and CEO of a businesswear line that launched a few weeks before COVID lockdowns, though, Annabel Gato is well-versed in the art of keeping things moving with both hands full.
We chatted with Annabel and her husband and Co-Owner of Suitably, Phil Gato, hoping to gain an understanding of how Suitably uses ShipStation to keep their business running smoothly. What we got, however, was much more than that. We witnessed a little bit of the magic that allows Suitably to continue to thrive in circumstances that would have snuffed out the light of business owners half as strong.
I am woman, hear me work
“I created Suitably to help give all professional women a leg up in the workplace,” Annabel tells us. “We are a direct-to-consumer women’s professional wear brand that offers ultra-comfortable, machine washable capsule pieces for the office. Our pieces are seasonless, so they’ll last year-round and won’t go out of style.”
The idea for Suitably came to Annabel when she was in her second year of Columbia Business School. As a paralegal , she found it incredibly difficult to buy business formal clothes right out of college. Everything was poor fitting. There were strange design details as companies rotated their inventory through each season. “I knew women deserve better,” Annabel says.
She was, of course, absolutely right. And for a few glorious weeks following the brand’s launch in February of 2020, it seemed the world was on her side. Women were loving the brand’s ethos and designs and Suitably were perfectly positioned, both in marketing and production, to keep the inventory coming. But then, society as a whole laid down their suits in lieu of sweatpants as offices everywhere closed their doors in response to the pandemic.
A COVID Comeback
With the world and the workforce closing in around them, Annabel and Phil knew they had no choice but to see their burgeoning brand through the chaos if they wanted to come out the other side.
“All of a sudden you’re completely off trend. And we realized we had to run it leanly, be very smart about our capital allocation decisions and find ways to acquire customers profitably,” Phil explains. “It was a shift in our business model.”
This shift consisted of tightening their budgets and doubling-down on low-cost marketing opportunities, They leaned in to their Instagram and blog communities as a way to stay relevant and also buid a connection with their customers. Luckily, Annabel had been building this community of businesswomen even before Suitably officially launched.
While Annabel and Phil pivoted in light of COVID, they realized they would need some help amid the shipping delays that came with the pandemic, not to mention navigating a new business in such an uncertain time. They needed to run with tight margins and no room for error.
“And that is what brought me to ShipStation,” says Phil. “We recognized that we wanted to handle the fulfillment ourselves at the very beginning. ShipStation just seemed like fantastic software for keeping everything organized.”
ShipStation Helps Bridge the Gap
With so many people returning to the office, whether full-time or sometimes, Suitably is back in the swing of things. Annabel and Phil are so glad to have ShipStation on their side when it comes to fulfillment and logistics. The team, who like to write handwritten notes and pack each order meticulously, has more time to pour resources into their passion project instead of worrying about keeping orders organized or shipping on budget.
“We love and use ShipStation literally every single day for our small business. It’s been a critical operational software for us,” says Annabel. “We’re saving real, meaningful dollars on each shipment. Plus, we are getting smarter about how to ship and pack efficiently, as well as which provider to use for various different geographic regions. We get real-time data on what various different shipping providers are charging. And we can negotiate discounts with shippers. It gives us a full view of what our shipping costs are and how we can optimize it for the business.”
ShipStation’s help with strategizing shipping processes was a lifesaver for Annabel and Phil when they were running lean and uncertain of what the future would hold during COVID. Now that lockdowns have lifted and orders are pouring in, they use the software to stay on top of all the new business and focus on expanding their brand.
“Being hands-on with our fulfillment process was critical to us. ShipStation just kept things organized in a much better way,” says Phil. “To have the dashboard, and see all of your orders and get a sense for the work that needed to be accomplished initially is so helpful.”
Annabel’s original goal for Suitably was to eliminate barriers of entry for women in the workplace. While one huge barrier – COVID – certainly kept many doors closed for people of all genders, Annabel’s vision survived the storm, thanks in large part to the community that Suitably has built.
“Suitably’s Instagram is a community of working women that we spent years trying to cultivate and develop. We actually started that Instagram page two years before Suitably even launched as just a page,” says Annabel. “When I entered the workforce, I felt like I didn’t really have great guidance in terms of what I should be wearing to the office. We want to help guide women along every step of their professional journey. Whether they’re going through the interview process in college for one’s first job or several years into the workplace, we’re there.”
The desire to help women in the workforce succeed is built into the fiber of Suitably’s business model. Even their marketing strategies are mindful of this; Suitablymakes sure to partner with influencers who will do more than just show off the brand’s clothes. They want their partners to be role models and inspirations to aspiring businesswomen.
When it comes to getting merchandise out the door and to influencers, Annabel and Phil never have to worry about incorrect shipping information or inflated shipping costs. They cite influencer marketing as yet another area in which they excel with the help of ShipStation.
“ShipStation’s been incredible for being able to quickly generate a new order and plug in an influencers contact details. Then you have them stored there forever,” says Phil. “We would’ve probably had to find a less efficient way of shipping to influencers if we didn’t have a product like ShipStation.”
Back in Business
Being a woman in the workplace isn’t always easy. But companies like Suitably are fighting to make positive changes and empower women to feel confident at their jobs. Whether it’s a perfectly-fitting blazer or a word of encouragement from their Instagram story, Annabel and Phil are working every day to give women in business the tools they need to succeed.
ShipStation is so proud to provide the tool they need to continually offer women a seat at the table. Keep up with Suitably on their Instagram and follow along with their blog for the latest drops and news.
Wondering if ShipStation might be the perfect solution for your business like it is for Annabel’s and Phil’s? Sign up for a free trial to find out!