How did you get into the restaurant industry?
My business partner and husband, Alex, and I decided to open up a restaurant. Unfortunately, the restaurant wasn’t a success, and we had to shut it down. Once we closed the restaurant, Alex went back to working as a private chef and I returned to working in pharmaceuticals doing research and development.
What inspired you to create Tilit?
Before Instagram took off and showcased restaurant culture, chefs wore commodity products like 100% white polyester baggy, chef coats. Chef clothing was poorly designed, uncomfortable to wear all day, and made chefs hot and sweaty. Alex would blow through these $30 pants every six-to-eight weeks, and we realized that we could design much better chef clothing that was high quality and looked nice!
At Tilit, we’re fans of cotton. It’s tried and true.
How did you get your first customers?
We knew when the restaurant staff would be between services, normally sometime from 2PM-4PM. I would just go in, ask if the manager was there and explain that we started a company to make cool, high-quality chef wear.
The restaurant industry is truly a small community, so we really leaned into that fact. Cooks are in a kitchen together working as a team, and then they’ll go to different restaurants to learn from each other and talk about new products that they love.
We’re very fortunate that we had people who loved our clothing from the beginning, and this allowed us to grow organically.
Was there a moment where you felt like Tilit “made it”?
I think it was when we started working with the Union Square Hospitality Group.
In January, I randomly got the William Sonoma catalog at our office and on the cover Bobby Flay is wearing our apron. Even eight years later, these moments are such a thrill for me.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to make a career change?
Time is your most valuable resource. If you’re not happy and you want to make a change, be proactive about it! Talk to people in the industry that you’re interested in and ask about their experiences. Many people are willing to engage in conversation, share their knowledge, and willing to help.