Kathy Saffell Turns Years of Retail Experience Into a Soulful Business Endeavor
A Los Angeles native, Kathy Saffell says her curated collection of cozy sweaters and beautiful cover-ups were inspired by her home. Her contemporary design sensibility—fostered over the 17 years she worked for Nordstrom—reveals a creative understanding of flattering silhouettes, gorgeous colors, woven designs and handcrafted quality.
She started at the department store in college and gradually progressed up the ladder, working in all departments from stock and merchandising to sales. After she became manager and then district manager, she finally moved into buying.
“The main thing I have taken with me from my Nordstrom days is the importance of customer service,” Kathy shares. “I hate to say ‘no’ to a customer. I do what it takes to make it work.”
After Nordstrom, Kathy stayed in fashion as a multiline rep. She grew brands such as BB Dakota, Sugar Shoes and various Korean private label lines. She hustled while on the road, working solely on commission until 2013 when she made the bold and brave move to start her own business.
The brand includes three labels: Woven Heart, a young contemporary line; Woven Heart Bleu, a women’s contemporary line; and Woven Heart Girls, a girls’ fashion line. She says her collections are for creative, confident women with a youthful spirit.
Kathy’s beautiful products, experience and network of contacts helped her get placement right away with Nordstrom, Forever 21, T.J. Maxx and others. Incredibly, Kathy ran all aspects of her business while also working as a multiline rep until just three years ago. It was then that she decided to devote all her time to Woven Heart.
Working at a small warehouse in Hawthorne with only two employees, Kathy’s business has grown dynamically; last year she had more than $6 million in revenue and hundreds of thousands of units. Yet every cent so far goes back into the business as Kathy continues to invest in building the brand.
Kathy’s husband, Mark, a talented furniture designer, encouraged her to branch out to local boutiques and get her brand into her own community. Those stores, such as the well-known Diane’s Boutique, now make up 30% of her business.
At a difficult time for every business, Kathy’s dedication to supporting all those around her is nothing short of inspirational. “I love being the owner of my company because I am able communicate directly to my people, my suppliers and my customers,” she says. “It makes me happy to make them happy.”