Nov. 11, 2015
By Brad Muller | More Features
Katherine Boyanovich is on top of her game. The native of Peru and former South Carolina tennis student-athlete put her degree to work immediately after graduation in 2003, and after being employed by some of the most prestigious businesses in the fashion industry, she recently launched her own business, Petite Vigogne.
“It’s such a challenge,” Boyanovich said. “When you work for a company where there are so many divisions and teams, it’s very interesting, but you only see a little bit of what everyone does. When you start your own business, you have to do everything at the beginning. I have to do the production from beginning to end. I’m learning so much, when I thought I had already learned everything that I had to know. Every day is a new challenge and new thing to discover. That’s what I like the most.”
Boyanovich was South Carolina’s MVP following her senior season in 2003 and was also named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll that year. She studied fashion merchandising at South Carolina, and upon earning her degree, she did not waste any time chasing her dream. Boyanovich moved to New York City, and her career took off as she has spent more than a decade working with some of the most respected names in the fashion industry.
“I started working for Tommy Hilfiger when I graduated,” Boyanovich said. “I did product development for Tommy Hilfiger for a little less than a year, and then I moved to Nautica – VF Corporation. I was there for four years, and I also did product development there. Then I was offered a position at Ralph Lauren, where I stayed for six years.”
She served as the Director of Product Development at Ralph Lauren until December of 2014 when she resigned in order to pursue her desire of starting her own business. Petite Vigogne is a luxury baby bedding and accessories brand. The brand was officially launched in October, and is already enjoying good exposure and e-commerce. She plans on having her products in some New York boutiques in the near future. Despite her previous success, it was the birth of her son, Alonso, which inspired her to venture out on her own.
“I’ve always been very hard working,” Boyanovich said. “I believe I had some great opportunities to grow with Ralph Lauren, but I just decided that I wanted to do something on my own. I had also just had a baby in September (of 2014), and while I was looking for his baby bedding, I couldn’t find anything that I liked for him. I wanted the bedding quality that I use myself for him, so I thought there was a really good opportunity there.”
I had some choices, but it was South Carolina for me, always. It’s always in my heart.
Boyanovich travelled back to her native Peru and investigated boutiques she had known had good reputations for delicate craftsmanship.
“I wanted to find boutiques that put a lot of detail into what I would do,” Boyanovich said. “Peruvian Pima cotton is some of the best in the world. I wanted to offer mom’s, like me, who couldn’t find luxurious bedding for their kids, 500 thread-count, 100% Pima cotton bedding, really precious gifts and a variety of accessories.”
Now working from her home in Manhattan, the 33-year-old C.E.O. has found her new venture to be very rewarding.
“We’re offering something that wasn’t really popular in the U.S.,” Boyanovich said. “I’m pretty proud of it. I want to position the brand as the top option of bedding for children. I want to be in certain boutiques. The first thing I want is for people to get to know the brand.”
Her first customer was Hollywood director Brett Ratner, and she is hoping word-of-mouth will help to add validation to her brand.
With this new chapter of her professional career, she is quick to praise her alma mater for helping to prepare her for life after college.
“South Carolina had a lot to do with my success,” Boyanovich said. “I studied fashion merchandising, and I remember my advisor giving me really good advice. She always told me to be a leader, so that’s probably why I decided to do something on my own. The classes were related to what I do now, so it was unbelievable. In fashion, I learned a lot in school. I think I really took advantage of my four years in college, and it has really paid off.
“The people are what I miss the most. Everyone was so nice and welcoming there. People are so warm in Columbia. I have such great memories of people who really touched my life, gave me good advice, and great friendships that I made. I remember all of my teachers, and all of the great tips they gave me to help me in life.”
Boyanovich also has fond memories of her Gamecock teammates and former coach, the late Arlo Elkins, who passed away in 2012.
“Arlo was like a second father to me,” Boyanovich said. “He would come to New York every August for the U.S. Open, and would always call me. We’d get together and have lunch or dinner and just have so much fun telling stories. I have the best memories of him and his family.”
Although she hasn’t been back to campus lately, Boyanovich looks forward to visiting soon, along with her husband Alonso Aramburu, and 14-month-old son, Alonso Mikel.
“I love my school, and I will always love my school,” Boyanovich said. “I had some choices, but it was South Carolina for me, always. It’s always in my heart.”
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