Originally from Hungary, Katalin Benedek, Owner of Pink Collar Warrior, moved to the United States in 2016 to be closer to family in Sarasota. In Hungary, she worked as an economist in tourism and hotel management and in human resources for Hilton and a large South Korean bank. Upon moving to the U.S., as Benedek shared, she made the decision to turn her hobby into a full time job.
“I first learned how to sew as a child in primary school,” she said. “Growing up, I mostly did it for fun until I realized I could earn some money. Beginning in 2013, I started making jewelry and cashmere coats for art markets in Hungary.”
Benedek continued, “When we moved to Sarasota, finding a job was a bit difficult. That’s when I made the decision to go full time on my business. I tested the market in 2018 and fully launched in April 2019.”
Pink Collar Warrior produces everything from recycled cashmere sweaters to funky elf coats, silk scarves, jewelry and dresses. All of Benedek’s clothing items are 100% cashmere and silk, locally sourced, handmade and recycled.
“All of my coats are unique,” she said. “I'm not able to recreate any of those ever. When it comes to reusing products, even the small scraps are going to be recycled, as I make flower petal brooches out of them. The tiniest scraps are also filled into neck pillows for traveling. Everything is made right out of our Florida room.”
Before the COVID-19 Pandemic hit, Benedek was busy working the art and farmers markets. From Coquina Beach to Siesta Key and beyond, she did three to four markets and shows per week as she aggressively worked to build out her business. An early challenge was getting into the actual markets because of the fact that she also sells jewelry – a category that’s often over-represented at many markets. Nevertheless, she made progress and despite the recent slowdown, she continues to develop new business and expand her product line.
“I really enjoy the magic of the hunt for unique items and the process of designing,” she said. “When I take five sweaters apart and figure out how to make a coat out of the parts, it’s a fun and rewarding process.”
Looking ahead, Benedek is focused on building a website and expanding the capabilities of her Facebook page to reach and sell to more customers. Her long-term goals include establishing a brick and mortar shop.
What advice does Benedek have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Always follow your dreams,” she said.