Kiersten Hileman and the Power of the Brand LADYUP

Name: Kiersten Hileman

Year: Graduated

Hometown: Miami, Fla.

Major: Economics  

Kiersten Hileman, a recent graduate from the University of Florida (I know, FSU is still better though), talks about the emergence of her clothing brand LADYUP, what influenced her to create such an idea, and how she is trying to empower women through wearing these hats.   

Her Campus (HC): What is LADYUP and how exactly did it come about?

Kiersten Hileman (KH): LADYUP is a clothing brand that I started just about two years ago. It sprung up when I was training for a half marathon. I began running as a way to cope with anxiety and eventually realized that hats aren’t designed for women, despite their appearance. Anyone who has ever run in a hat and ponytail knows it doesn’t work well and forces your ponytail lower. I decided to design my own hat that would work better. The name LADYUP came from the idea of equality in that cultures across the world needed to LADYUP and embrace women as leaders and symbols of strength, not just men. A girl doesn’t need to be told to “man up” but can instead choose to “lady up.”

HC: A lot of people have similar ideas about products and labels so what do you think makes yours different and why do you think you will be successful? Do you know a lot about business and entrepreneurship?

KH: One of my favorite quotes is that confidence is 90 percent delusion and 10 percent hard work. I have absolutely no entrepreneurial experience and I like to say that I slipped and fell into creating this business. Everything I have done and accomplished from creating the website to securing trademark and patent protections to examining production costs and details has been entirely through trial and error. I have put my blood, sweat and mainly tears into this business and I am just deluded enough to believe it can be successful.

HC: On your website, you talk about donating your proceeds to charity. Can you talk a little bit about that and why you feel a responsibility to share what you’re doing with others?

KH:  So five percent of our profits go to the Let Girls Learn Foundation to promote women’s education around the world. I genuinely am passionate about this company and what we stand for and wouldn’t feel right if we didn’t practice what we preached. I am committed to empowering women across the globe and if I can do that by just selling hats, the more the better. We also donate five percent to our profits to the NoStigmas foundation. This organization is very close to me as I suffer from anxiety. The reason I feel so passionate about NoStigmas is that LADYUP wouldn’t exist were it not for my anxiety. Had I not been running, I would have never stumbled into this business. I believe we are doing a serious disservice to anyone coping with mental health issues by creating a culture where it cannot be talked about and its taboo to say that I am seeing my psychiatrist. It is so important to me to be able to spread this message and help even one person feel like their mental health is as equally as important as their physical health and each should be treated exactly the same. 

You can check out the LADYUP website here.

“You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are.” - Amy Poehler

*All photos are courtesy of Kiersten Hileman.