2018 CEBIpitch Winner Anne Skoch Innovates During COVID-19 Pandemic
Anne Skoch ’18, the creative genius behind Anne Cate, a Cleveland-based company that crafts pillows, bags and purses decorated with hand-sewn skyline designs, has been an entrepreneur since the age of 13. She is now using her entrepreneurial spirit to navigate the unchartered waters of being a small business owner amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Skoch established Anne Cate as a fashion merchandising and entrepreneurship student in 2016 and won the Kent State College of Business Administration’s 2018 CEBIpitch competition. Since winning the pitch in 2018, the company experienced tremendous growth, ending 2019 by tripling sales from 2018.
“The COVID crisis has been a unique learning curve for our business and has introduced new ways to be creative while remaining strong,” Skoch said. “We have unfortunately laid off our team and closed our manufacturing studio for the time being, but I am fortunate enough to have the sewing skills needed to continue to produce and fulfill orders as needed and am optimistic we will get up and running within a month of returning to normalcy.”
Skoch continues to sew purses each day for outstanding corporate and wholesale orders. She has also shifted manufacturing to cloth mask production, aiding Cleveland designer Yellow Cake to help fill orders from the RTA, grocery stores and the Cleveland Clinic.
“I am sewing 150 masks a day for a total of 750 a week,” Skoch said. “It has been a unique way to help another local business as well as the Cleveland community.”
Alongside sewing mask orders, Skoch is also looking for innovative ways to serve customers. Her mini wallet emergency kits, which include a small skyline wallet and 19 necessities, were first introduced in December but became a popular seller over the last month as customers sent kits to family, friends, doctors and nurses to brighten their day. In addition, Skoch recently released a DIY skyline craft kit which includes materials to sew a mini skyline pillow or craft skyline crayon art.
“I have been seeing many customers of all ages look for craft kits to stay busy during the stay at home order and am excited to be able to release these,” Skoch said.
Even during an unprecedented time as a business owner, Skoch continues to make helping her community a priority. In April, seeing that the Cleveland Food Bank was in need of donations, she pledged to donate a non-perishable item to the bank for every $5 spent at Anne Cate. She ran the promotion for two weeks and was able to donate the equivalent of 1,600 meals to the Food Bank through her company’s sales.
“The Cleveland community has been incredibleto our business in every way imaginable and I strive to give back as much as I can,” Skoch said. “This was not only a great way to help the community, but it also helped our business stay afloat in these scary times.”
Skoch credits her success to her experience in the CEBIpitch competition and as an entrepreneurship student in the College of Business Administration.
“None of this would have been possible without the help of the Kent State College of Business Administration,” Skoch said. “I am so grateful and a proud graduate. Kent State has given me so much,” Skoch said.
Learn more about Anne Cate’s handmade skyline products at https://annecate.com.