A year ago, no one in the athletic apparel world could have predicted Kassia Davis, the natural heir to the New Balance throne, would be working independently of her family and dedicated to an entirely different brand in the same industry.
“I went from being part of a giant in the industry, to suddenly, I’m one of the little guys just fighting for a major retailer to even meet with me,” Davis explains. She’s CEO and co-founder of Boston-based athleisure brand, Fierce + Regal, working on branding and as the main point of contact for retailers. She expresses her challenges in her new position. While anyone can see Davis’ fortitude and confidence, she does not boast just how deep this seed of success has been bred.
Davis, with nearly a decade under her belt of experience in apparel management, strategic accounting management, and marketing for New Balance’s global flagships and e-commerce programs, was at the top of the game. A few years prior, one would find her working alongside J. Crew, Heidi Klum and Nordstrom in partnership with New Balance, her family’s baby, where Davis’ parents, Anne and Jim, serve as vice chairman and chairman, respectively.
With a network of resources and support, her desire — and urgency — to take a step back from New Balance and venture out on her own came as a surprise to both Davis and her parents.
After talking to her parents, Davis began the search for a company that similarly prioritized her values of female first and premium quality. Through research and an eye for good product, Davis found and joined Margi Gad, who had started Fierce + Regal six months prior to meeting Davis. What struck Davis about Fierce + Regal was its commitment to both the comfort and confidence of their consumers, all of whom were women.
“I am really, really passionate about women supporting other women,” says Davis.
In regard to Fierce + Regal’s consumers, Davis says, “We’re aiming to keep that sophisticated, polished look and make her feel confident and empowered throughout her day, in any environment.”
Finding Her Voice
“I wanted to make my own impact,” says Davis. “And, yes, I could have done that at New Balance, but in a different way. I wasn’t going to get the experience of building a brand from the ground up. I wasn’t going to get the experience of learning from my own mistakes. At some point, you want to learn for yourself.”
Davis explains that it was no easy road to pave, stepping away from complete security at New Balance to work in a position where suddenly, she had a million and one tasks in a day, some of which were new to her and required spontaneous problem-solving.
“Not going to lie,” Davis says with a laugh. “It’s been a year of me losing sleep. So excited one day, so terrified the next. [At New Balance], I was in such a comfortable position, but comfortable is not fun. Who likes comfortable? How are you going to grow from comfortable?How are you going to grow from security?”
Davis was inevitably nervous when it came to telling her parents her plan. “I didn’t want them to be insulted by my wanting to step away, but I made sure they saw my passion and understood in my heart of hearts that this really was the right decision for me.”
4 Tips For Following Your Dream
Davis offers some words of wisdom for women who are considering taking a leap of faith in their career or stepping away from financial security.
“You really have to focus on the silver lining of those difficult times; they are turning points in your career. Once you make that one mistake, you’re never going to make it again.”
“Lean on the support system that you have around you. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re struggling or that you don’t know what to do in certain situations.”
“You have to empower the people who are working around you to have the same passion as you do about your brand, to empower them to want to grow with you.”
“My dad always said, ‘Anything is possible.’ The hard days and letdowns are what are you remember, what made you stronger, what made you persevere. They are what has made me so proud of getting to this point in my career. I truly believe, ‘If you believe it’s possible, it is possible.”