Merin Guthrie is the Founder and CEO of Kit, an innovative Made in America clothing start-up changing the way clothes are made. Their e-commerce platform provides an antidote to standard sizing and throwaway fashion by offering custom fit clothing based on each individual customer’s height, weight, build and muscle mass.
From a young age, Merin was surrounded by inspirational female influences who consistently emphasized style and epitomized women’s empowerment. While growing up in Pasedena, California, Merin was a part of a tight-knit entrepreneurial family that worked closely alongside one another within the family restaurant company. She grew up with three grandmothers (a step-grandmother thrown in for good measure), all of who were classic, confident, and fashionable women.
When Merin was in high-school she realized California wasn’t where she wanted to be, so with her strong willed determination and her parent’s approval, she went to the library in those the pre-Google days, and researched boarding schools across the country. After acceptance into The Madeira School, an all girls’ boarding school in Virginia, Merin found herself again surrounded by women who reinforced the importance of a woman’s voice and her education.
After graduating from the Davidson College in North Carolina with a Bachelors of Arts in History and Art History, Merin moved to Washington D.C. where she worked with various non-profits, including CulturalDC, where she spent four years working alongside a nearly all-female staff. As her job took her from Capitol Hill to K Street to City Hall, she noticed something — even the most influential women in her office endured ill-fitting clothing. Weird seams. Too tight or too loose fits. Skirts that rode up, blouses that gapped, lining that bunched during a coffee run. Issues no amount of safety pins or double-sided tape could fix. She witnessed the effect that had first hand: these smart and powerful women were not feeling confident in the clothes they wore, and it would affect their mindset and confidence levels during meetings and presentations as they tugged and pulled at the poor fit.
She also knew that she felt her best when she wore the vintage dresses handed down from her grandmothers, many of which were a half a century old. These were Mad Men-era women for whom the classic dress came from the dressmaker and was built with fabric strong enough to last for generations. Her favorite black dress, which had been field tested by three generations, still fit beautifully and looked crisp all day — so unlike the mass-produced clothes that fill modern wardrobes and leave as quickly as they arrive. Merin knew there was a problem with women’s fashion and it needed to be addressed.
As word got around that she loved fit and style, she built a side business of designing and sewing custom bridesmaid dresses, where she often had return customers asking for a staple black dress that could be worn to work. Realizing there was a market for the old fashioned tailored dress made for the modern day businesswoman, Merin set out to create a business model that would allow women to buy dresses the way their grandmothers did: durable, versatile, elegant and tailored to fit their bodies. For the past half-century, that wasn’t a realistic option for most women, until 2015 when Kit was born: a dressmaker for the digital age, bringing personalized fit and style to busy women.
Merin’s mantra: “If we can put men on the moon, we can make women’s clothes that fit.”