URI alumna opens startup lingerie store with help of Brown University graduate
A recent URI alum is making interesting use of her mechanical engineering and Spanish double major as COO of Dear Kate, a lingerie start-up company located in Providence, R.I.
Sharon Ruggieri graduated from URI in 2007 from the International Engineering Program and continued on to receive her MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In 2011, Ruggieri met Brown University graduate Julie Sygiel who had just launched a line of lingerie in Providence called Sexy Period.
"I was really interested in entrepreneurship," Ruggeiri said, "and Julie and I had really complementary skills and got along really well."
In November 2012, Ruggieri and Sygiel launched Dear Kate, a line of functional lingerie for women.
"We make beautiful lingerie for women, mostly bras and panties," Ruggieri said. "[Our lingerie] has performance fabric so that a women never has to worry whether she's working out, having a baby, or on her period."
Dear Kate was created with the same technology Sygiel used when launching her Sexy Period line. "You don't have to worry about anything getting on our clothes and you can be comfortable and confident [while wearing the lingerie]," she said.
The name Dear Kate was a collaborative effort.
"We wanted a name that made people comfortable," Ruggieri said. "People love the name Kate and the concept we used was as if the line would be an advice column or a women's best friend so we went with Dear Kate."
Sygiel and Ruggieri work collaboratively each playing into their strengths to help the company grow.
"Julie is the creative genius," Ruggieri said. "She has a great personality and represents the company beautifully while I do a little more of the production side."
Besides being a startup functional lingerie company, another thing that makes Dear Kate unique is that it is made and sold only in America. "We try to get as much of our materials from the United States and the lingerie is made in New York," Ruggieri said.
Currently Dear Kate products are sold in boutiques and maternity stores in Providence, but Ruggieri is hoping that in the future they'll be able to expand to stores such as Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Though Ruggieri is not sure what the future holds for her, for the time being she is more than happy at Dear Kate.
"Working for a startup is so exciting," Ruggieri said. "I will stay with the company as long as my contribution is helping it grow. Hopefully it gets bigger than us!"
Dear Kate is currently offering a promotional discount to all URI students. Enter the code "rhodyrams" at checkout to receive $10 off your purchase.
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