July 31, 2020
Tenacity Tales #15: STEM...But Make It Fashion

Leslie Youngblood

Kayte Malik of Drescode Tech knows that life is full of obstacles and it's how you approach them that determines how you overcome them.

When faced with a problem or obstacle, Kayte takes a logical and positive approach, and has faith that something good will come from the situation. This was especially true when crafting her ideas for Dresscode Tech.

Knowing that many girls have been taught to view computer science as boring, nerdy, and too hard, Kayte started Dresscode Tech to break down the stigma associated with computer science. 

Read more about Kayte Malik and Dresscode Tech in this month's Tenacity Tales.

Kayte Malik, Founder of Dresscode Tech

Kayte Malik, Founder/Chief Executive Officer of Dresscode Tech.


What’s the obstacle that you’ve overcome that you’re most proud of?
There is not much that scares me anymore, life has thrown me some crazy curve balls. When I was young my family lost everything in a devastating house fire, I had a debilitating back injury in high school that if went untreated could have left me paralyzed, and I had to figure out how to pay for college on my own. I have been financially and spiritually broke more than I would like to admit, and have lost jobs and people close to me that I loved. 

All of these things, and the other tiny obstacles along the way, along with the support of my family and faith has given me the drive to become who I am today.  

If there is one thing I am most proud of it is learning how to survive on my own. Upon graduating from college, I left the small town where I grew up in upstate New York, leaving everything and everyone I knew with only $300 cash in hand, and moved to Chicago. Bright eyed and blissfully unaware of the challenges of the real world I somehow figured out how to make it work.

17 years later I have a great relationship with my family, wonderful friends, I'm in the middle of a successful corporate career, I received an MBA from Notre Dame, and started a socially focused company. Not bad for a girl from a small town who at one point did not have a home and could barely walk.

Dresscode has created fashion forward coding bracelets that have string of binary code on them

Dresscode has created fashion forward coding bracelets that have string of binary code on them with empowering messages like I am Bold, I am Smart, and I am Brave.


What do you know now that you wish you’d known then?
I am not sure I can pin point one thing as I feel like life is a journey and one learning leads to another. For me I find it most important to always be learning and building new skills. This is one of the core values of Dresscode, to be informed about many things. We believe this to be so important that in our weekly staff meetings everyone shares one new thing that they learned that week.

The other thing I want to highlight is don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Early on when starting my company I was afraid of that. Today when I don’t know what to do I pick up the phone and talk to someone who I think may be able to give me a solution. People are eager to give you their insights and feedback, just ask.

 

What’s your best advice to other small business owners?
If you have not started yet, just get started, do not wait. You can plan all you want and keep thinking you are not ready to launch, but you just need to make the leap.  Nothing is going to go as planned, so if you are planning to get started, just do it

The other thing is to make sure you can monetize your idea or that there is a business case. If your business does not make money it is not a business.

Finally, venture capital is not for everyone. Right now, there is so much focus on raising money. If your business is not high growth, very tech heavy or super scalable out of the gate, VC funding may not be for you. If it is not, do not spend time and energy trying to raise dollars. Spend your time getting customers, focusing on your team, and growing your business the old fashioned way…Sales!

Kayte schedules time throughout the week to talk to people.

Throughout the week Kayte tries to schedule coffee meetings with new hires, old colleagues, or friends.


What’s a typical day like for you?
My alarm goes off sometime between 5:00 and 5:15 am. I am currently training for the Chicago Triathlon so I try to get my workouts done in the morning. I make my bed, get dressed, have breakfast, and try to find time to meditate (sometimes hitting snooze cuts into my meditation time if we are being real!). I also eat breakfast and have become a fan of Daily Harvest smoothies. They're easy and healthy in the morning. 

No matter what, I have CNBC on in the morning. I want to know what is going on in the world before I truly start my day. On my way out the door I pick up the WSJ and skim it in the car searching for information what was not covered on CNBC (P.S. I am not driving).

I am in the office by 8 if not sooner because I work with a lot of people on East Coast Time and they are half-way through their morning if I start any later.  Everyday is different, but I do try to get out for lunch somewhere. 

I tend to use Sunday nights to plan my whole social calendar for the week: workouts, coffee meetings, different events I want/need to attend. I also schedule time to chill out. I still write things down in a planner and cross them off as the week goes on.

I say this because every evening is different depending on what is planned.  I also make it a point to either call a friend or my parents each night to see how they are doing.

I strive to be in bed by 10 pm, though this rarely happens. I have learned over time that I need sleep to perform. Eating healthy and drinking more water also helps.


What’s next for you and Dresscode Tech?
Dresscode has gained a ton of exposure since we launched in the summer of 2017.  We currently have customers in over 30 states and three countries. So what's next?

We have plans for further expansion. We will continue to grow our business.  To do these we plan to expand our manufacturing operation. Also we will be looking to do more pop-ups and corporate events. We really enjoy working with companies to help educate and excite their employees about coding and technology.

Want to learn more about Kayte and Dresscode Tech?

Check out the Dresscode Tech website 

or

Follow Dresscode Tech on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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