Mallory Ottariano

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Mallory Ottariano, founder and CEO of Kind Apparel. We make boldly colorful, planet-friendly wearables for gals who get after it. I wear a lot of hats as the founder of a small company but mostly I run creative and marketing for the brand. I work a ton, so that’s a huge part of my identity, but I love to trail run, ski, cook, and design.

What is one habit of yours that helps you be productive?

I’m an early riser. Most days, I get up around 5am and start my day with exercise. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished a ton before sh*t hits the fan and the day gets away from me. As a busy entrepreneur it can be hard to find time for myself, but that morning working is “me” time and my days are seriously off if I miss it.

What is your morning routine and how does it help you get the most out of your day?

Get up around 5, and head right out on the trails or to the gym. I love to watch the sunrise, so most mornings I try to get out on a run or a walk with my dog so I can get to the top of something while it’s still a little dark.
I love breakfast, and when I can, I make my signature dish – pan fried beets on arugula with fried egg and avocado. The last couple months it’s been a lot of protein shakes grabbed on the go though. But being still for a minute, and taking the time to care for myself, allows me to ease in to the day and be stress-free for a brief moment.

In the last few years, what lifestyle, habit or behavior change has had the biggest positive impact on your life?

Getting up early! Until 3 years ago, I was not a morning person. I was always the person that rolled out bed 5 minutes too late, and rushed to get to work on time. By getting up early, starting with exercise, and giving the day a gentle start, I’ve found I get more done, feel better, and am more fun to be around.

When you feel unfocused, what do you do?

I go on a run, or I leave the office and work from home under a comfy blanket with some tea.
Running helps me a ton, because my mind can disconnect from my body and wander.

What is one piece of software or a web service that you get immense value out of? How do you use it?

Shopify. It’s the platform that powers my website and allows my business to even exist! My whole team uses it to market, ship orders, predict financials, plan for production, and retain customers.
Also, my iPhone. It’s my single biggest tool in business, and it allows me to do so much work on the go and capture moments.

What is the one book you most often recommend and why?

In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney.
it’s a beautiful collection of interview-style stories of creative women. What inspires them, what challenges them, and the beautiful experiences that make them who they are.

What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?

Do the thing that brings you the most joy. I started this business right when I graduated, but it took me 3 years to commit to diving in full time, and leaving my day job. I wish I had pursued the thing that made me happiest over the thing that made me money. Because in the end, the thing that makes me happiest has become the thing that makes me money.

Ignore “work in your field”. Degrees sometimes create silly boundaries. Just because you have an art degree doesn’t meet you can’t run a business. True story.

What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?

“repetition is the mother of skill”
My dad used to tell me that over and over again as a kid and I would roll my eyes, until I realized how true it is. Sure, we all have talent, but skill is acquired with hard work and putting in the time. Every day, I’m faced with tasks and work I’ve never done before, so I just try to focus on getting better and better each time I do it.

If a recent graduate wanted to reach out, what would be the best way to connect with you?

Instagram! Although be warned, I’m not always super timely at responding. But I’m the one behind Kind Apparel’s account @kindapparelco