B.F.A., Graphic Design Owner/Creative Officer, Thick2Thin women’s athletic apparel Hometown: Owego, New York Current Residence: Fairfax, Virginia
After years of being frustrated that comfortable, attractive active wear for women was not available in large sizes, Andrea Kuchinski made the case to a national audience. “Exclusion and frustration are nothing new to the plus-size customer,” she wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. “Separate stores, limited inventory, ill-fitting garments and higher prices – much of the retail industry more or less refuses to service this customer.”
Kuchinski then used her design savvy to launch Thick2Thin (T2T), a line of soft and colorful tank tops, sweatshirts and workout pants in sizes XS to 5XL. In place of a logo, she invited T2T customers to customize the clothing with such slogans as “We Are All Athletes,” “Strong Is the New Skinny” and “Me Against Myself,” to reinforce the message that athletes don’t always come in sizes 4 to 14.
Aided by publicity in the Post, Fortune and elsewhere, Kuchinski’s concept resonated quickly. After three years, T2T was closing in on $1 million in sales and had its own distributor. Now, Kuchinski is in talks to partner with a “huge worldwide brand.”
The upstate New York native was interested in graphic design since childhood. At Saint Rose, she learned to conceptualize her ideas and better understand herself. Kuchinski is especially grateful to the late Karene Faul, founder and chair of what is now the Center for Art and Design. “Karene embraced everyone for their individual selves,” she said, a sentiment she now applies to her own enterprise.
After college, Kuchinski joined a few firms near Washington, counting GEICO and the NFL as clients. Now, with T2T she goes beyond building a brand to empowering a community. Customers use the company website to share experiences and challenges with fitness, nutrition and weight loss.
“Sometimes I want to go back to just designing,” she said, “But knowing that my team and I are making people feel good about themselves takes that all away. It makes me never want to give up.”