How She Got There: Cayla O’Connell Davis, Founder & CEO at Knickey

Name: Cayla O’Connell Davis

Job Title & Description: Founder and CEO at Knickey

College & Major: Boston University, BS in Communications / Parsons The New School for Design, MA in Fashion Studies


Twitter: @knickeyofficial

Instagram: @knickeyofficial

Most of us wear underwear. If you don't, that's alright too. But for anyone who does, it's safe to say that you probably have a favorite pair. You know: The one that just makes you feel confident in being, well, you. While you might have put your passion for panties and their related ilk into crafting the ~perf~ undies wishlist at all your favorite retailers, some entrepreneurs have kicked their passion for undies up a notch. Founder and CEO of  Knickey, Cayla O'Connell Davis transmuted her passion to create a company that curates organic cotton underwear that's made for women by women. (So, we don't have to deal with those oddly placed elastic bands that seem to disregard all basic understanding of human anatomy. You know what we're talking about.)

Beyond talking about her company, which will officially launch later this autumn, Cayla O'Connell Davis has some powerful advice for nurturing your biggest ventures (whether those ventures are professional, personal, or a culmination of the two). 

Her Campus: What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

Cayla O’Connell Davis: As the founder of a startup, there really is no such thing as a typical day. I try to maintain some semblance of structure to maintain stability in a routine, but my current job entails everything from high-level strategic decision-making, to nitty-gritty administrative work. Without the luxury to delegate too much, I have the opportunity to work on every aspect of building a brand and business from the ground up - I’m really in the trenches day-to-day, which is exciting and fulfilling. There is never a dull moment!

HC: What is the best part of your job?

Cayla: Having creative freedom and agency is definitely empowering [also equally daunting at times!]. But I think that the most rewarding part of my job is realizing a vision alongside incredibly talented people.

HC: What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?

Cayla: I got a design internship at an established fashion label while I was in college. The woman who hired me called the night before I started to say that she had been fired, and I wouldn’t need to come in the next day. I showed up anyway, figuring that there would be a lot more work to do in light of her absence, and I ended up working for them for two years between semesters and had a job offer before I finished sophomore year.

HC: What words of wisdom (well-known quotes, an anecdote from your boss) do you find most valuable?

Cayla: “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” I have always found this George Bernard Shaw impactful. It speaks to the power of knowledge, the value of information, and the possibility in collaboration.

HC: What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

Cayla: Anytime I see a product that I developed, designed, conceptualized or contributed to in some way out in the world … it is such a great feeling, it never gets old.

HC: What do you look for when considering hiring someone?

Cayla: Hunger, hustle and good grammar.

HC: What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

Cayla: Advocate for yourself. If you don’t, who will? Similarly, don’t undervalue yourself. I put off starting a business until I felt ready or prepared to do it, but the truth is, there really is no good time to take a risk or dive-in head first on a venture. If you wait until you ‘feel ready’ you will never start.

HC: What's the one thing that's stood out to you the most in a resume?

Cayla: A value for ethical business practices. While this most immediately aligned with Knickey’s core tenets, the applicant stood out to me as someone seeking more than just a salary, but importantly, meaning and belief in their job. It is amazing to see talented applicants who recognize that business for good is simply, just good business.