Advice from a CEO: How to Evolve as a Startup While Staying True to Your Niche

Meet Brianna Kilcullen (founder of ANACT) and read about how finding her niche in the textile industry helped her grow her startup - all while staying committed to her roots, even as needs change.

For Brianna Kilcullen, when presented with something she feels that she can improve, such as smelly, unsustainable towels, it was as simple as starting a company and creating her own, improved, version. While the process of a startup is nowhere near simple, for Kilcullen, an environmental justice advocate, she found that with her own niche in the textile industry and a will to improve the basic towel, she could make it happen.

During a recent virtual event with Junior Judges, she discussed how this mindset helped her startup. When people would tell her that something like ANACT had never been done before, she would reply: “Well that’s the whole point.” For Kilcullen, finding her niche helped set ANACT apart from the rest of the textile industry, a major must for a startup.

ANACT works to help inspire the community to do good and make an impact through small acts, such as sustainably-made towels and totes. ANACT’s goal is to “disrupt the textile industry and show that you can be sustainable without a sacrifice,” Kilcullen said. Just a few of the ways ANACT is making a difference is by providing jobs for American farmers and manufacturers as well as cutting down on water usage in the textile industry by using hemp as opposed to cotton materials.

While her unique towels and the environmental/ industrial impact has allowed ANACT to stand out from the rest, Kilcullen also spoke on how she evolved her company to respond to community needs. As other issues are coming up in the community that Kilcullen feels strongly about, like the Black Lives Matter movement, she seeks to bring awareness to them. An example of this is ANACT’s new social advocacy totes.

While still staying true to its roots in the sustainable textile industry, but by also branching out to make new products and support different issues, ANACT can reach a larger market as well as evolve as needs change. During the Junior Judge event, Kilcullen mentioned that she doesn’t want her path and growth in the business world to be linear, but she instead yearns to grow and change as she finds fit. For Kilcullen, discovering her niche that anchored ANACT in the textile industry has allowed her to find the means to grow from that and evolve her company into something greater along the way.

Mira Soin is a summer 2020 volunteer with the Women Founders Foundation.

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