Haute Street sits with one of our alumnus, Kayti O'Connell, the founder and the creative mind behind MATE the label (@mate_the_label). The young entrepreneur talks about the brand's connection with social media, the importance of following your dreams and stresses that women should ALWAYS stick together. Find out why #HAUTESTREET #hearts #MATEtheLABEL!
HAUTE STREET: Tell us a little bit about yourself
KAYTI O'CONNELL: I grew up splitting my time between Anaheim Hills and Laguna Beach in Orange County. After high school, I really wanted to move to Los Angeles. I studied Sociology at Loyola Marymount University. I was very unsure about what career path I wanted to take in college but I knew I wanted to be in business for myself.
HS: Tell us a little bit about MATE the label & how it originated.
KO: I started MATE by selling a curated collection of vintage tees. I would frequent flea markets, thrift shops and began to love the process of shooting/styling/and selling them. From there, I decided to start my own vintage-inspired line. I really wanted to recreate my favorite vintage tee for my customers and myself. The entire first collection is based off of my favorite vintage Harley Davidson muscle tank. I have been very adamant about keeping production local. My fabric is made and cut+sewn in Los Angeles.
HS: Describe the type of woman who rocks MATE.
KO: Our MATES love to have fun, they are free-spirited, aren’t afraid to take risks, old-souls, a little hippie-chic and are always rock n’ roll influenced. Social media has been such a great resource because I get to see first-hand all the different ways our clients rock our tees!
HS: Any particular person, place or thing that inspires the aesthetic of your designs?
KO: Inspiration is so weird. It’s so constant and can come from anywhere. It is sort of a mind zone for me… I feel the most inspired with a good dose of endorphins. After a good yoga class or a really good meal, my brain just starts to zone in on things and I just roll with it.
HS: We are totally into influential people & brands passion projects! Will you tell our viewers a little bit about “COLLABS with a CAUSE.”
KO: Yes! "Collabs with a Cause" is one of my favorite aspects of MATE. I seek out designers + brands that inspire me and we co-design exclusive items for our customers. In turn, a percentage of profits are donated to charity. I have been SO busy with the line that I haven’t had time for one in a while. I am hoping to get one in the works very soon!
HS: We love that you’re Haute Street alumni! Tell us how working with us has inspired you on your journey in fashion?
KO: Sure am! I interned for Haute Street straight out of college and it was a great hands-on learning experience, plus it was super fun! Interning is so great, especially with smaller independent companies because you get to see all facets of how the company operates. I have done quite a few internships and each of them have contributed to me pursuing my own dreams.
HS: What’s on your playlist?
KO: I love Spotify Radio…I typically rotate between the Frank Ocean and Rolling Stones channel depending on my mood. Some of my favs are The Weeknd, Haim, Little Dragon and Lykke Li.
HS: Best advice someone has given you that has kept you going and growing?
KO: My parents have always told me that anything worth-while is going to be difficult and challenging…to accept the challenges and understand that setbacks are usually blessings in disguise. While growing my business there have been a lot of ups and downs. But usually in the end, the “downs” have become opportunities for growth and extra motivation to become even better. It is all about continually looking and moving forward.
HS: Current obsession?
KO: Coconut Oil. I use it for everything, it’s magic. And campfire scented candles.
HS: What gets you up for work every day?
KO: My cat. Haha, he jumps on my face every morning and definitely wakes me up! But on a serious note…I love what I do…every day is different. Since I am still running MATE on my own, I have to wear a lot of different hats and it has been a huge learning experience.
HS: Idea of happiness?
KO: Traveling often, eating and drinking really good food and wine, and continually creating and loving what I do.
HS: Where are your top 3 favorite places that you've traveled to and why?
- My absolute favorite place in the world is Big Sur…it is such a magical, beautiful and mystical place. Nothing better than the Cali coast!
- I visited Spain a few years ago and fell in love with Barcelona. So much culture, beautiful people and the best food.
- Next on the list is Ireland! My Dad and I rented a car and road tripped all throughout Ireland. It was beyond beautiful and such a great experience that I will remember forever.
HS: Where do you get your inspirations for your postings from on or Instagram?
KO: I like to mix it up on Instagram with our own images as well as inspiration images. I am pretty addicted to Pinterest and Tumblr and love to include what inspires me into the brand. I want MATE to be more than just clothes but a lifestyle brand and a source of inspiration.
HS: Top 3 favorite Instagram’s that you follow?
KO: Hmm tough one…
- @nasa (mindblowing)
- @raychponygold (most talented lady around)
- @boutiquehomes (serious interior/travel inspiration that will make you swoon).
HS: Three things every woman should have in her closet?
KO: A kick ass vintage tee that is completely worn in and fits perfectly. Same goes for a perfect black and white tee.
HS: What are some things viewers can look forward to seeing in the future with your brand?
KO: I am working on adding more styles to the collection and expanding upon tees. I am also looking into using organic cotton…really soft, great fitted basics are in the works!
HS: One piece of advice for aspiring designers and young entrepreneurs?
KO: Embrace social media. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people in your industry for advice. Network. The best thing about being a young entrepreneur is the amazing support you receive from people…typically, everyone wants to help each other out! The universe responds to people pursuing their dreams…what you feed expands!
HS: Who would you say is your MUSE?
KO: My “style” muse is Erin Wasson, definitely. She is always effortlessly on point. My “life” muses are lady entrepreneurs! My motto is that girls have to stick together, always.