Gold Hinge: the Female-Founded Company Taking Athleisure to the Next Level

Designer Katherine Watercutter shares her inspiration behind the brand and more.

Katherine Watercutter.<p>Katherine Watercutter</p>
Katherine Watercutter.

Katherine Watercutter

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Boutique clothing company Gold Hinge offers versatile athleisure wear, including trendy tops, bottoms and outerwear. Every piece is made with the modern, on-the-go woman in mind by owner, operator and designer Katherine Watercutter.

Watercutter established the female-founded online clothing boutique in the fall of 2018 before launching her e-commerce business in January ’19. At the time, she was a 23-year-old, fifth-year college student completing her degree in interior architecture and design.

The Louisville native started Gold Hinge with a lifelong entrepreneurial mindset and love of fashion. Watercutter, now 27, began selling wholesale clothing through Gold Hinge but is now hands-on with her brand’s design process.

Below, we chatted with Watercutter about everything from where she draws inspiration for her designs to which Gold Hinge pieces belong in every woman’s closet and more.

What led you to start Gold Hinge?

“I’ve always been an entrepreneur since I was really young. It actually had nothing to do with loving clothes or fashion. I always did like clothes, but it really just started as wanting to start a side hustle, and I’ve always wanted to have a business and be a business owner.

Before I was 10 years old, I had multiple businesses, selling homemade gift cards and jewelry and things like that. So I’ve always just really liked that and I kind of fell in love with the clothing design and the marketing along the way.

I kind of started [Gold Hinge] thinking, ‘Oh, this will be an awesome thing to do and make money,’ and I’ve just always been an entrepreneur. I realized it was a lot harder than I thought, and that’s when I fell in love with the other aspects of the business as well.”

Gold Hinge’s branding is centered around the idea of supporting and empowering women of all lifestyles. Why is that so important to you?

“I grew up with two brothers and my dad always raised us all the same, and if I ever had something that I liked that was nice, someone would joke, ‘You better marry yourself a rich guy because you [have] nice taste.’ But my dad’s response was always, ‘No, she’s not gonna marry herself a rich guy, she will be the rich guy.’

I still come across people underestimating me. I’m a short, young-looking woman and people assume things. I think that there’s just still so much work to be done today and in having the conversation of women being more capable. That was really important to me when starting this brand and talking about it and not letting that fade away.”

How did you go from wholesaling to creating your own designs?

“I’ve always enjoyed fashion and design… [but] like I said, I didn’t start this [business] for clothes. If you go into [creating a business] thinking, ‘Oh, this is gonna be so fun, I’m just doing it because you get to buy or make cute clothes,’ you’re going to have a tough time because at the end of the day, it really isn’t about that, it’s about the numbers and the business aspect.

[When starting out], you don’t have endless money or budget to just get everything you want. I did the best I could with kind of figuring out what people wanted and what was going to sell, with limited budget resources. I didn’t start off designing everything. I did do some wholesale. The design process was very expensive, and again, I was aware of the numbers and was all over it from a business aspect.

Long story short, we were doing some everyday pieces because that’s how Gold Hinge started. I went back and forth for a long time over niching down to just athleisure that you can really work out in, and it’s scary to say no, but that’s how your brand grows. Basically, I was working with my marketing agency and slowly over time we started getting more and more traction.

Looking back, there was this one sweatshirt and sweat shorts that I wanted to design and order so badly, but I couldn’t afford it at the time. I finally got to order them and I was so excited about that and I waited over a year to order this set that I had designed because I couldn’t afford the minimum amount you had to order.

I slowly cut off getting things from anyone else. As we started gaining more and more funds, we kind of took the leap to just say ‘no’ to certain things and it was scary, but that’s when our brand really took off.”

Katherine Watercutter.<p>Katherine Watercutter</p>
Katherine Watercutter.

Katherine Watercutter

Where do you draw creative inspiration from?

“Sometimes I’ll just be walking out in public and I’ll see an old guy wearing some sort of retro sweatshirt that has a pocket in one area and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I just had an idea—what if I take that pocket and put it on this type of top and this and that?’

So whether it’s seeing inspo certain places—like pulling them from magazines, Pinterest—or ideas I've had just in my head, I start drawing on the iPad. I send the picture that I’ve sketched up to my manufacturer and often he’ll want ideas for fabric. I have a million palettes from him on hand of different materials, and so we talk about what’s going to be the best. Sometimes I even secret shop stores just to feel their fabric. You know, it’s not the style, it’s ‘Oh, I wonder what kind of fabric this is. This is a top, but maybe we could do a pant out of it,’ or something like that.

Then [the manufacturer] will send us a sample—and sometimes it takes a couple samples, but it’s worth it to get it right. From there we will order the whole quantity for the colors we select and usually [the manufacturer] likes to send us like one photo shoot sample so that I can go and photo shoot models while the production is finishing up.”

What sets Gold Hinge apart from other athleisure brands?

“We have a different style because we step out of the normal zone. I’ve seen a lot of athleisure brands just doing the basic trending styles. We’ve been selling tennis skirts for three years and now in the past six months or year, I’m starting to see brands come out with more [similarly trendy items]. We aren’t afraid to put something out there before it becomes super trendy. We’re not just sticking to leggings and sports bras and things like that. We like to be fun with our colors, and there are some brands that are the same way, but there are a lot of brands out there that have this certain moody aesthetic or are super sporty.

The whole point of Gold Hinge was to be this everyday brand and athleisure is so big. So you know, I’m going to wear that [Gold Hinge] top with jeans because it’s so comfortable, but it’s also athletic material, but you can’t even really tell.”

What Gold Hinge pieces belong in every woman’s closet and why?

“We launched this baseball pullover. I had seen a vintage one and I thought about how you don’t really see them much anymore. The pullover is the best thing I think I’ve ever designed and I’m so excited about it. I started designing it in the summer and it took four samples… I’m so glad we finally got it perfect.

It’s super thick with fleece lining. It has side pockets with fleece inside, so it’s super warm and it just has such a comfortable fit. The outside has a shiny nylon layer material. I think it’s just like a cool vintage look.”

What’s next for Gold Hinge in 2023?

“My main girls started with me out of my home and they’re just invested in it for the long haul. I think all the [people] on my team now are, and that means so much to me. I know what it’s like to work in a big company where they say they compensate well, no matter if you’re putting in 80% or 120%. I’ve told the people who work for me and work so hard that there’s never a ceiling in this company and [because] you help us grow, I want to reinvest in you. We’ve really become a family.

I think that's one of the best things about working [at Gold Hinge] every day. I don’t think many people can say they have such a good work environment where everyone cares about each other so much. So one of my biggest goals is really just continuing to bring more people on our team and have a good culture.”

Where do you see your company five years from now?

“I would love for Gold Hinge to be a better-known brand. We’re just starting to have more of a presence and become more of a popular name, and that’s so crazy to me. Generally, that would be like the biggest goal ever, of having that brand recognition and having more loyal customers.”

Black GH Baseball V-Neck Pullover, $64

Available in four colors, Gold Hinge’s baseball pullover fits like a traditional crewneck sweatshirt and has a fully fleece-lined interior.

“Another item that's doing really well and that I think everyone should have is our cargo pants. They’re amazing.”

Pink Parachute Pants, $65

Designed from scratch by Watercutter, Gold Hinge’s cargo pants are similar to Hailey Bieber’s trendy parachute pants that went viral last summer—but Watercutter promises Gold Hinge’s are even better.

SI Swimsuit readers can use the exclusive discount code “GHSPORTS” to receive 25% off Gold Hinge’s Baseball Pullovers and Parachute Pants only through Feb. 28.