Kate Kikano is the founder of TKD Lingerie in Dubai, UAE. She is the mom of two. We had the pleasure of sitting down with her to learn more about her business and her personal life. Read the full story here:
Mompreneurs WW: Tell us about your company
Kate: TKD Lingerie is a GCC retail brand synonymous with beautiful underwear, swimwear, and nightwear in sizes 28 – 46 D-K cup. The boutiques stock high quality brands such as Panache, Fantasie, Freya, Cake Maternity, Hotmilk, Cleo, Curvy Kate, Charnos, Miss Mandalay, Cyberjammies and Miraclesuit. The collections have been carefully selected to offer every woman the style she likes in the perfect fit, whether she is looking for every day, special occasion, maternity, sports or swim wear.
TKD’s specialist staff provide a complimentary bra fitting service to all customers, ensuring they get both the right size and the best bra shape to support, enhance and flatter their figure.
The TKD Lingerie boutiques are located in Al Aali Shopping Complex, Seef district, Bahrain, and in Jumeirah Town Centre, Jumeirah 1, Dubai, UAE.
Mompreneurs WW: How did the idea of starting it come about and who inspired you?
Kate: It was truly driven by necessity; I was heavily pregnant and could not find a bra to fit me in all of Dubai.
I was so uncomfortable and so tired of being told to just try a larger back size, which would be the worst thing you can do when you have heavier than ever chest. Right there and then in the mall after spending all day looking and failing to find a bra, I started to look around. There were plenty of other women who looked like me; I wasn’t an unusual shape or size. I thought if I was having this horrendous experience, other women must be too. It was as close to an epiphany as I have ever been.
My initial research confirmed my belief – women who needed expert fittings and larger cup sizes were chronically underserved. That was the foundation for my business plan.
Mompreneurs WW: What is the best part of what you do and the toughest?
Kate: The best part has to be when someone who has been wearing the wrong size bra all her life comes in for a fitting and tries on the right size and shape. For many it can be quite an emotional moment when they see their new shape. The right size and shape of bra can take years off a woman’s silhouette, not to forget how much better it feels to have great support in all the right places.
The ethos of TKD Lingerie is to make women feel good about themselves. Seeing that in action is absolutely wonderful.
The most challenging part of what we do by far is overcoming the misinformation and bad fitting advice that has been the norm for so long. Lots of women choose bras based on a fitting they might have had 10 years ago. And it might not have been right in the first place. There are plenty of fitting services out there where they use a measuring tape to calculate your bra size, which has been proven to give the wrong size more often than it gives the right one.
Once you have seen and felt the difference, you know what to look for in a bra. But if you haven’t ever been fitted properly, you might not know how much better it can be.
Mompreneurs WW: How many kids do you have and how old are they?
Kate: I have 2 little ones aged 7 and 4 years old and opened TKD when my first was just 15 months old
Mompreneurs WW: How do you juggle work and life balance?
Kate: When you are running your own business there will always be more to do. But as a mother you also have a whole other set of commitments that are equally important, so trying to find a way to balance the two without burning the candle at both ends is crucial. Accepting your limitations is essential. There are only so many hours in the day, so it is all about priorities. I have days and times dedicated to work, and others dedicated to my family and I work hard to keep that distinction.
Mompreneurs WW: What’s a book you always recommend and why?
Kate: I recommend you read as much and as widely as possible. There is nothing to be gained from reading only one book when there are so many great ideas and sources of inspiration out there.
Mompreneurs WW: What advice would you give a Mompreneur who was just starting out?
Kate: When you are an SME owner, you do everything and anything from seeing customers to overseeing the accounts and speaking to suppliers. There are always changes in regulation you need to learn about, or potential new suppliers to evaluate.
It can be a lonely journey if you don’t have a good support network. I have been lucky to find a great network of other business owners who all support and learn from each other. Try to find others in a non-competitive space who are on a similar journey. Join a business networking group. Approach others targeting the same market and consider mutually beneficial partnerships. Find a mentor. Ask people for help. You will find that most people are incredibly helpful if you only ask.
Mompreneurs WW: Your favorite quote is…
Kate: There is a spiritual aspect to our lives – when we give, we receive – when a business does something good for somebody, that somebody feels good about them! – Ben of Ben & Jerry’s