If there were a theme to Kate Twist’s (MBA 2008) career, it would be building brands known for the emotional connection they foster with their consumers.

Twist is experienced in directing powerful consumer brands. She cofounded the digitally native dermatology brand Every/Body, which has raised over $100mm to expand nationally, and has partnered with major retailers, developed products, launched campaigns, and digitized consumer experiences. With a passion for high-growth businesses and a commitment to helping underrepresented founders, Twist is re-imagining the DTC playbook for the new health and wellness consumer.

Connection and Inspiration: The Power of the HBS Network

Twist’s interest in the consumer experience has been a foundation for her career. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, she began her career in investment banking in New York, working primarily with consumer retail clients, including luxury retail brands like Oscar de la Renta, BCBG, and Badgley Mishka. During this time, Twist found that she was a “marketer at heart” and entered HBS with a plan to transition from banking into an operating role in retail.

At HBS, Twist not only developed the skills to transition her career functionally, but also built a powerful network of support. “HBS promises to deliver a ‘transformational experience,’ and I can certainly say that was true for me,” she said. “Long after you forget the names of the companies you studied, the relationships from HBS will remain - and someone in your friend group will remember the ‘takeaway’ you need in the moment.”

The HBS network also played a role in Twist landing her first brand management position at Estee Lauder. As a recent graduate, she actively connected with many HBS alumni and asked them all the same question: “If you were a recent HBS grad, and you wanted to get great training in retail and consumer, what would you do?” The answer was unanimous - the best training comes from CPG. With this knowledge in mind, and through networking conversations with alumni at Estee Lauder, Twist eagerly joined the team as Manager, Clinique Global Marketing, rising quickly to a Director role.

“Joining the Clinique brand at Estee Lauder allowed me to get more classic brand management training in a big corporation. Developing new skincare products and launching global campaigns let me spend hundreds of hours doing consumer research around the world to understand what people hoped their skincare products could do,” Twist explained. “I was also fortunate to learn from and be developed by several HBS alums (every leader on the Clinique Global Marketing team at that point was an HBS grad!).” 

The Path to Ever/Body

After Clinique, Twist brought her skills and experience to a group of iconic American brands and led all marketing, e-commerce, business intelligence, and creative for Isaac Mizrahi, Halston, Judith Ripka, and C. Wonder as Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Digital Officer. In these roles, Twist took on more creative and digital oversight, and it was this experience, coupled with her retail strategy expertise in the complex consumer category of skincare, that set the stage for her next professional adventure as an entrepreneur.

“By the time I decided to start Ever/Body, I knew how to connect with consumers and create a modern digital experience. I saw how the next generation of powerhouse brands are being built around consumer healthcare, and I saw a need for the delivery of healthcare services to evolve to fit into our lives in a more modern way,” Twist said.  

Founded in 2018, Ever/Body exists at the intersection of the healthcare and beauty industries, educating consumers on the modern way to take care of their skin. It's designed to be a more inviting and accessible experience for minimally invasive cosmetic dermatology treatments. “We are democratizing a space that’s historically been opaque and confusing as well as full of misinformation and false promises,” Twist shared. “We offer a curated collection of the safest, most effective, and affordable services for the most common skin and body concerns.”

Since its founding, Ever/Body has raised over $100mm and is a Series C startup with twelve locations across the country. From setting the vision to managing construction build outs, crafting pitches to navigating permits, and having meetings in closets to seeing Ever/Body’s first feature in Vogue, Twist has seen the business through it all.

Advice for Founders

In 2020, Twist stepped down as CEO and into the Board Chair role at Ever/Body. She is now an advisor for other consumer health and wellness founders on strategic growth, fundraising, and organizational design. She also actively serves as interim operator, applying the transferable parts of the retail and CPG direct-to-consumer and brand playbook. In the last twelve months, three of the teams she has worked with have raised rounds of over $10mm, including Allara Health, founded by Rachel Blank (MBA 2018).

As an advisor, Twist also frequently works with underrepresented first-time founders (in 2023, all-female founding teams received less than 2% of venture capital dollars, and Black founders received less than 1%) and shares her advice for entrepreneurs seeking funding.

“We can’t ignore that the precious resource of high-growth startup capital frequently elevates founders into immense positions of power and influence, so it’s important that those opportunities are being opened to female and BIPOC founders,” Twist said. “It can be typical for these founders to face a longer road in fundraising, requiring a larger pipeline of introductions. Because of this, and the fact that round sizes can often be smaller for them, they will also need to be even more conservative with cash.  Underrepresented founders often will be held to a higher standard in terms of financial progress and are likely to be faced with more board oversight (more members, observers, and committees) earlier. Being prepared for all of this, particularly a higher rate of passes from investors, can help generate more stamina for the process.” 

Another way Twist advises founders to keep and build momentum is by surrounding themselves with people who motivate, inspire, and support them. To find those people, look to those who sat to your left and right in an HBS classroom.

“Jennie Baik (MBA 2008, co-founder of Orchard Mile) encouraged me to dive in, and startup life was always easier to navigate with sage advice from classmates like Karen Moon (MBA 2008),” Twist shared. “Jenny Fleiss (MBA 2009), co-founder of Rent the Runway and now an investor at Initialized VC, became one of my investors in Ever/Body, and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson (MBA 2004), co-founder of Gilt and Glamsquad and now an investor at her own fund Clerisy Capital, lent her expertise in the aesthetics space and fundraising - as well as moral support.”

Your support structure can include a partner or friend group, advisors and coaches who can help think about the trickier parts of the business, and excellent independent board members with operational expertise. Twist also notes the importance of finding mission-aligned investors with prior experience in the category, especially considering new investors often take board seats.  “When large amounts of capital come into play, the pressure on founders can be quite intense and it’s important to have the right support systems in place to help weather the inevitable ups and downs,” Twist said. “Entrepreneurship isn’t about perfection; it’s about getting to the next day.”