h-town workwear

Local entrepreneur designs fashionable clothes with Houston's heat and humidity in mind

Cotidié's fabrics are lightweight and moisture wicking — similar to exercise clothing — making the pieces conducive to the Houston heat and humidity. Lauren Marek/Cotidié

Houston is a humid subtropical climate — the majority of the year brings hot and sticky weather. Local entrepreneur Kristina Haag found herself struggling to find traditional clothing that is comfortable in the Texas heat, so she created it herself.

"With Cotidié, it is all about the functionality of the clothing," says Haag, founder of the clothing line Cotidié. "It is more traditional items, but the use of technical fabrics is our differentiating factor."

The online retailer, which launched in June 2019, offers pieces specifically tailored for women who are up against Houston's hot and muggy climate.

The line offers dresses, jackets, pants, skirts, and tops, ranging between $60 and $200 in price. The fabrics, sourced from Italy and Taiwan, provide breathable comfort, along with an elastic, structured fit for a more tailored look. All items are moisture wicking and machine washable. The line uses three different fabrics: LunAir, 88 percent polyester and 12 percent spandex; SolaSmooth, 73 percent nylon and 27 percent elastane; and StellaForm, 59 percent nylon and 41 percent elastane.

"Everything we use on the line is athletic technical fabric that you would typically find in workout attire, but I've repurposed these fabrics to use in a contemporary womenswear line," Haag tells InnovationMap. "I wanted to create a more foundational capsule clothing collection that women can draw their own inspiration from."

Haag, originally from Houston, studied history and business at Rice University before moving to London to attend the British School of Fashion. Following a few years of work at a London-based fashion PR firm, she returned to Texas. Haag was working a corporate job that required extensive job-site visits.

"I thought, how is there not more stylish women's clothing on the market that is comfortable and functional," says Haag.

The name Cotidié, which means "daily" or "every day," encompasses Haag's desire to create clothing that can be worn at work, for travel, on weekends, and more. Haag was determined to find comfortable professional clothing that held up in Houston's heat and humidity and created Cotidié to bridge the gap between technical performance wear and business attire, introducing a new kind of clothing for stylish women on the go.

Kristina Haag worked a corporate job that required her to run around Houston. She thought of her new fashion line out of wanting stylish clothes conducive to Houston's climate. Lauren Marek/Cotidié

Haag worked for over a year testing different fabrics and designing each piece to blend feminine style with technical performance. Haag works with Sew Pro Production, an apparel manufacturer based in Houston to develop the pieces.

For Cotidié's fall and winter line, which launched in October 2019, Haag adapted the pieces for cooler weather as the temperature shifts.

Haag plans to expand the marketing of Cotidié to a national scale in the next year. The company currently has two employees and has plans to begin fundraising efforts in 2020. The company currently ships internationally.

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Building Houston

 
 

Gathering the right info was vital. Photo by Krisanapong Detraphiphat/Getty

It's there in their name, but how often does a human resources company actually put emphasis on the "human" part? If it's HR&P, the answer is "especially when it matters most."

Following the COVID-19 pandemic announcement, small businesses scrambled to get their Paycheck Protection Program applications and documents in order. Up for grabs was a government-funded $349 billion in forgivable loans to help pay salaries, utilities, and other necessary expenses while businesses weathered the medical and economic storm. And if a business didn't have a company like HR&P on its side, its chances at obtaining a PPP loan weren't nearly as high.

"The PPP loan process required a great deal of HR information, and the requirements seemed to keep changing," says David Gow, CEO of Gow Media (the parent company of InnovationMap). "So we reached out to HR&P a number of times with requests, questions, etc. And each time HR&P assembled a full team to help us. I eventually started calling them 'the dream team,' because the team at HR&P had all the answers."

"As soon as the banks got set up to process these loans, the funds were gone. Every second mattered," says Kris Osterman, HR&P's CFO. "The CARES act is over 800 pages long — our team divided it in sections, and quickly went through it to find the parts that mattered to our clients. We had to make sure we had what we thought the banks needed — the information coming from the treasury was vague at the start — we had to make interpretations and apply our technical knowledge to gather what was ultimately needed for each client. A rapid response was critical."

Working (often remotely) around the clock, through that first weekend, and then several others, HR&P's team was in constant communication with its clients and their SBA lenders. At the end of the day, it was the community-based companies like HR&P that shined over their larger, more bureaucratic counterparts. The blitz of ambiguous COVID-19 relief legislation was an incubator for chaos in the financial and human resource communities. Most payroll companies simply could not respond with a level of intimacy required to support a company's specific needs. HR&P had the agility to navigate these moving targets and swiftly personalize service for their clients.

"Everyone had a different interpretation of the legislation, and there were inconsistencies in what was being requested from each financial institution. Corroborating the requests and staying in constant communication with the client was imperative," says HR&P's VP of client relations, Kevin Roblyer. "They could literally get ahold of us on a Sunday, where other providers were not available or couldn't provide that localized presence."

"All the lenders and financial institutions were asking for different information," says John McKay, HR&P VP of operations. "HR&P is entirely customizable. Our development team can quickly create functionality and generate reporting capabilities for each individual client and their bank's needs."

More importantly, "being able to speak to a designated HR&P representative was very important to limit client anxiety," says Chris Fisher, HR&P's VP of sales.

Thanks to years of expertise and a deep knowledge of its clients, HR&P played a critical role in securing vital PPP funds for many small and mid-sized businesses.

"It took a lot of creativity," says Fisher. "And everything changed with the second round of funding in April. Because of our high touch service model, our clients were prepared and more equipped to succeed."

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