What’s it like working at a rapidly growing startup? – Interview with Heist Studios

What’s it like working at a rapidly growing startup? – Interview with Heist Studios

Ellie, Head of Community at Heist, was kind enough to give us an insight into what it takes to work at the rapidly growing consumer startup.

Heist launched in 2015 on a mission to disrupt the women’s underwear market, starting with tights. Their innovative design has gained industry acclaim, with Sunday Times Style naming them an “unequivocal winner” in their luxury tights test, and Vogue claiming “Heist lives up to the hype”.

Heist has experienced 30% month-on-month growth since inception, grabbing the attention of investors 14W, Imaginary, Jamjar and Pembroke VCT, among others, and has quickly built a worldwide community of fans, selling a pair of tights every 15 seconds on a busy day.

Ellie runs all non-paid marketing at Heist and has been relishing the challenge since she joined the company in April.

1. Could you tell me a bit about Heist and what its mission and goals are?

At Heist, we believe underwear can be an instrument of progress. While many categories understand the consumer’s desire for autonomy, choice and freedom, women’s underwear has lagged behind. Effectively, all women are living in underwear inadequate to their time.  

When you look at the existing product offering, you have “practical” brands and then you have “sexy” brands. But there’s been no innovation to speak of for many years, and women are left choosing between the two.

Heist asks: why can’t you have products that perform like activewear, but that are aesthetically pleasing? So, we’re on a mission to innovate in product to build the underwear brand of the future, a brand that fosters female progress, rather than forcing customers into categories.

We’ve had a successful start with tights, and now we’re working on new product lines, which we’re really excited about.

2. What challenges did you face in the process of making Heist a well-known & highly successful brand?

Apparel is a crowded industry, so cutting through the noise means telling the brand story in a really clear and engaging way.

Since we’re a mission-driven company, we’re not afraid of sharing our worldview, and this has got people’s attention. A good example was our controversial TFL ad with a ballet dancer on the tube. The story captured exactly what we’re about, and ended up being printed on page 6 of the Evening Standard.

3. What opportunities do you see in Heist’s future?

Firstly, breakthrough products. We believe that radical innovation in underwear design can ensure that every woman, every day, is living in underwear that allows her to progress in the way that she demands in every other area of her life. That’s why our designs are built on an understanding of how bodies move, not just how they look.

This approach led us to reimagine the most mundane wardrobe staple, a pair of tights, into a product that redefines superiority in comfort and fit for every female body. We’re now using polymer physics, computational engineering models and 3D knitwear to reinvent shapewear. Next, we’ll be taking our design ethos to make a bra that actually fits. (Finally!)

Secondly, new markets – we’ve seen super-fast growth in the US, for example, and we’re really excited about capitalising on this.

4. Could you tell me a bit about the team and culture of Heist and what you think is important in this regard?

We have an incredibly diverse team – we’re diverse with respect to gender, nationality, language, qualifications, full-time/part-time – and this really enhances our capabilities. And we’re not fashion insiders, the team come from consulting, banking, performing arts, welfare, tech, and direct from university.

What this means is that we’re hypothesis-driven and look to test – and learn from – absolutely everything. I came from consulting and I can’t express how much I’ve learnt and grown since working with the team at Heist.

Heist’s company culture is very meritocratic – everyone is given a lot of autonomy but is expected to take responsibility and really drive their remit forward. We’re moving incredibly quickly, and for someone who really wants to get stuck in, Heist presents an amazing opportunity.

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