Some people think they’ve hit it big when their clothes are worn to the Oscars, or on Lizzo’s tour, or to Heidi Klum’s legendary Halloween costume party.
Kate Hewko knew she made it when the letters started coming in. (Okay, and the Oscars didn’t hurt.)
From a small, progressive boutique in Calgary to international recognition, the Kate Hewko brand, founded by CEO Kate Hewko, is a master class in creating a company that prompts a movement.
From Runways to Retail: The Hustle
We could tell you the boring stuff: how Kate got her degree in economics from the University of Western Ontario, then studied fashion marketing at the International Academy of Design and Technology. But Kate’s real journey is all about the hustle. She got her start throwing fashion shows in Toronto, quickly building a reputation for her go-big-or-go-home attitude and eye for emerging trends.
A boyfriend compelled her to move to Vancouver. She got rid of the guy, but kept her true love of fashion, working as a buyer for a Vancouver boutique. “My first job, they sent me to the San Padre wholesale market. This was not glamorous; this was me dragging a suitcase through sketchy streets, scavenging through piles of junk for something cool. But it gives you an eye,” she recalls.
A position in a national retail brand brought her to Calgary, but she couldn’t shake the call of entrepreneurship. She answered it by opening her own boutique in 2007, returning to her roots: throwing fashion shows and staying two steps ahead of the trends.
A Brand Unfolds: Beyond Jewelry to Jaw-Dropping Collections
She started off as a jewelry retailer for other designers. Soon, her boutique was turning out its own line of jaw-dropping pieces. Kate was ecstatic when Urban Outfitters started carrying her jewelry, only to fast forward to endless hours on her living room floor, trying to frantically assemble the packaging by their shelf-ready specs. “That’s when I decided wholesaling was not it,” she laughs. By 2016, she launched her namesake concept store, two weeks after welcoming her third child.