We had the good fortune of connecting with Pallavi Golla and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Pallavi, how do you think about risk?
I’ve always been someone that was willing to take “measured” risk as I like to call it! Making decisions after doing research so I feel confident about the pros and cons.
I started my career working at hedge funds and after 5 years decided I didn’t want a long term career in this field. I’ve always had a burning desire to start my own business and work on a product oriented business that solves a problem. So when I started business school I had a goal to start a business or work for a startup. I ended up spending most of my graduate school experience researching a business idea (in the wine industry) and using professors and resources to make the leap. After graduating, that business was operating but it wasn’t thriving so I made a decision that it was better to take a full-time job and ended up working for my competitor! I moved industries and careers by giving something a shot, failing but figuring out what the next best role would be for me. I ended up learning so much from that full-time job with my competitor that has helped me build a successful business with Lark Adventurewear. So taking that risk, starting my own business and failing played a huge role in my success today.
Today as I look at risks and decisions within my business, I try to figure out the easiest and least cash intensive way to test an idea. For example, we recently wanted to move from kids daywear into swimwear. This is a whole new category, fabric, etc. Instead of starting from scratch, we decided to test the idea by collaborating with a like-minded brand. It was our first collaboration, so we were able to really leverage an existing swimwear brand that was also eco-friendly, make a small quantity of the style and share the risk with that business. We sold out of our swimwear quickly after launch which showed us that our customers had an appetite for more swimwear from our brand! If it had failed (failure would be that our customers did not want the products), we would have been able to stomach the loss and move on from the test with more data and information.
What should our readers know about your business?
I have a background in finance working at hedge fund and also working into wine industry on the production side – both are very different from each other! I’ve always loved solving problems and truly enjoyed delving into product manufacturing in the wine world. I got the idea for Lark Adventurewear when I had my first son five years ago. He was born very underweight and I took time off to give him the time and attention he needed to thrive. It was a stressful time and my one outlet was going on walks in the park or local hikes with in in tow. Our time would be cut short because while I stayed cool and comfortable in my own activewear, he would easily get heat rash, sticky and sweaty in thick and dark baby gear like a stroller, baby carrier or car seat.
I was trying to solve my own problem and create a solution to make my own child more comfortable. Baby gear had evolved with technology, but not baby clothes. The market was full of polyester onesies and cotton footies that soaked up sweat. I quickly realized that adult activewear was made of synthetic fabrics with chemical finishes that wouldn’t be safe for kids. I ended up going on a long journey to create a technically superior bamboo fabric we call Softek™ that was breathable, durable, stain resistant and UPF 50+ – all without chemicals. It was extremely hard in the beginning to learn about the apparel industry, manufacturing and finally how we would market our products to parents.
We were lucky in our early years to have customers who truly felt the difference our fabric makes and over time we’ve been able to make our products even better with their feedback since I didn’t have experience in the industry. What started as a “niche” brand for kids who were overheated like my kiddo because a more universal brand as we discovered that our fabric was loved by every parent who tried it, not just kiddos with sensitive skin, eczema or sensory issues.
Since then we’ve focused on our universal mission to make children the most comfortable and parents lives easier through our clothing so they can fuss less and focus more on making memories. With that as our pillar, we develop clothing to create a better product technically through our fabric and functionally through our design. We listen to our customers, adapt quickly when something isn’t working and put customer happiness above all. This mentality has lead to the creation of a beautiful community of parents that are so loyal to our brand and help us grow.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There are so many amazing places in Pittsburgh, its a burgeoning foodie town and now that the pandemic restrictions are easing I’d be all about showing her the fun outdoor patios that have sprung up and a few of my favorite breweries in town. The Warhol Museum paired with a visit to the PNC ballpark or a Steelers game really rounds out the Pittsburgh experience 🙂 Living in Appalachia, we are lucky to have so much greenery and nature around us. So taking her out of the city for a little hike would definitely be on the list as well!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
One of the people in my life that has been so supportive of my business is my good friend, Sarah Kuhn, owner of Juna Moms. Juna Moms is a fitness app for pregnant and post-partum women that has been a game changer for many young mothers! Sarah and I went to UCLA together and both started businesses in the baby & maternity space so we connect frequently to share ideas. Sarah was one of our first customers and as her business and following has grown, she has always gone above and beyond to give our business a shoutout. While i’ve connected with so many like-minded business owners that offer mutual mentorship and support, it’s amazing to have Sarah, someone I’ve known for years, to bounce ideas off of. Her son was actually in our photoshoot recently when we were in a pinch to find a kiddo that wore size 4T and he did an amazing job! Always so grateful for her support, encouragement and perspective.
Randi Mooney/Shaylei Halling