How She Got There: Katie Fritts, Founder & CEO of Underclub

Name: Katie Fritts

Age: 30

Job Title and Description: Founder and CEO, Underclub

College Name/Major: UVA/B.S. Finance & Marketing and UC Berkeley/MBA


Twitter Handle: @UnderclubCo

Instagram Handle: @UnderclubCo



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

Katie Fritts: There’s no typical day; I can go from writing front-end code one afternoon to meeting underwear designers the next! As a sole founder, I’m involved in nearly everything. We’re a very lean team, so planning and prioritization is key. Our first year was definitely flying by the seat of our pants where everything felt like an urgent priority. I’ll never forget the day we were stressing about how to get more web traffic, then the next day finding out we got into Cosmopolitan’s holiday gift guide, which meant an entirely new list of other (good) priorities to figure out! Now that we’re a year in, I try to apply more organization around our top initiatives to increase our focus and decrease distractions, but it’s still a wild ride!


What is the best part of your job?

KF: Building something that people love and use, and share with their friends. Some of my most exciting moments are when I see my members gift Underclub to their friends and family; that feels like the utmost validation. I love that I built something fun, creative and practical (can anyone really say they don’t have old undies they should throw out?!).


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

​KF: I started interning at an investment bank after my first year in college by applying to work in whatever role was open. I ended up mostly in the mailroom that summer, but a few summers later, I landed my full time job in Citi’s Mergers and Acquisitions group. The experience was incredibly valuable to learn meticulous attention to detail while also gaining insight into how to assess a business opportunity within the context of the broader market. While my current path with Underclub highly values creative, “out there” thinking, I’m also very grounded in the analytics of how to build a solid business model.


What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?

​KF: Everything is negotiable. My prior jobs were well outlined and the career path was clear, so knowing when and how to negotiate was fairly straightforward. Moving into a completely new industry, I didn’t know what prices, timelines and contracts were "standards" versus "suggestions." I’m still figuring this out, and learning to flex those negotiation muscles and ask for what you want in these situations can be super uncomfortable. But you should always ask, the worst you get is a "no," and that’s what you had if you never asked in the first place.


What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?

​KF: “Chance only favors a prepared mind.” Lucky things can happen, but you have to be working really hard to stumble upon those opportunities.


What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

​KF: I’m not sure if it’s a mistake or just a frugal startup beginning, but for the first year I worked out of my apartment and had zero separation between my personal and work life. My boxes of inventory literally sat at the foot of my bed. While my life is still heavily work-centric, having separate spaces where I go to work and where I go to sleep provides a much better environment for when I want to be in work mode or relax mode.


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

​KF: I don’t think anything will compare to our first few editorial features when I saw my company in magazines I regularly read. It’s like when you’re proud to be recognized on the Dean’s List for all your hard work at school…but way more cool!


What do you look for when considering hiring someone?

​KF: Self-starters, people who can confidently go and “do” and who have a genuine interest in learning new things. We’re in a growth stage where we wear many hats and need to become experts in new things…fast.


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

​KF: Do it! Test it and see if it works. Everyone has great ideas and the biggest differentiator is that some people make moves on their idea. I’m a big fan of the “lean startup” model of creating, testing and iterating. I first started Underclub by asking my friends to PayPal me to shop for their underwear every month. It sounds a whole lot less sexy than designing a world-domination marketing plan, but testing the initial concept was critical and crucial first step to where we are today.

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