HomeRule BreakersCathy Paraggio: Accomplished Business Development Manager with Expertise in Start-Ups

Cathy Paraggio: Accomplished Business Development Manager with Expertise in Start-Ups

- Advertisement -

As part of the Morning Lazziness series about empowering women who encourage and do incredible things with their ideas in society, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cathy Paraggio.

Cathy Paraggio is a highly experienced business development manager who has successfully operated in start-up environments, with a particular emphasis on providing exceptional pre- and post-sales computer support.

Successfully oversaw sizable, intricate IT projects demanding inventive problem-solving approaches.  Accountable for overseeing profit and loss management, sales operations, customer service, and supply chain coordination.

Here’s what we found out about Cathy’s daily routine, followed by an exclusive Q+A.

Can you share the story behind your journey as an entrepreneur? What inspired you to start your own business?

My son, Chris, told me he wanted to study music at college. I thought “Why do people fail at doing things they love?” Maybe they don’t understand the business around it.

My career was in computer networks until I received a cancer diagnosis that left me without a voice for years. I started NoNetz with other neighborhood women to keep my head busy, until Chris shared his college plans. At that point, I bought out the other women and decided to use NoNetz as a teaching tool so he could understand that everything is a business. You just need to understand each of the components around the product you are selling.

Together, we realized how many people are actually uncomfortable in their clothing. So, we started to redesign clothing for the texture sensitive (flat seams, no tags, no-cling fabrics) to ensure everyone is comfortable.

What challenges have you faced as a woman in the business world, and how have you overcome them?

The major challenge is access to capital. Working full time on your brand with a seasonal sales history makes it hard for banks to take a chance. 

How do you balance your professional and personal life as an entrepreneur?

I work from home so I’m able to balance competing responsibilities equally. What’s great is being able to walk around outside on a NoNetz call in my garden. Then defrost something for dinner, while I’m working on a design. Previously I commuted over an hour to get to work, and my home life was very unbalanced. Working remotely is a nice, even ,  intertwining of efforts.

What strategies have you found most effective for networking and building connections in your industry?

The best method for me has been start-up groups. Whether they’re a formal organization or a reddit group, entrepreneurs understand the struggle. They have provided very valuable insights and connections.

How do you approach mentorship and seeking guidance in your entrepreneurial journey?

Things are changing rapidly so I’m always on the lookout for who is raising a flag of This is New – Look Here. When I enter a group and I don’t understand what they’re talking about – Im in the right place. The smarter people you surround yourself with, the more you can ride the waves of change.

Can you describe a specific setback or failure you’ve experienced in your business and how you bounced back from it?

Covid just about ended NoNetz. Our manufacturing team is in Thailand and they couldn’t get access to the vaccine. Our patterns are difficult, and have been compared to origami, as the fabric is folded then stitched so there is a minimal amount of stitching against your skin (as each stitch is a potential point of irritation). We’re just very fussy about everything we design and you need senior tailors. The senior stitchers got sick and never came back. There was a big re- training curve. We went without inventory for 8 months- missed our season. When manufacturing finally opened up , the ports closed and all of our inventory loans came due at once.  Very very difficult financial times but we are coming back stronger than ever.

In what ways do you prioritize diversity and inclusion within your company or startup?

For each order we donate a portion to impoverished women in south east asia without waste infrastructure. We pay them to collect plastic before it enters the ocean. They bring to a recycling center. NoNetz uses fabric made from recycled water bottles for the exterior shell of our swimwear.

Each design is tested with extremely texture-sensitive people – a demographic largely overlooked. If they are comfortable, everyone will be comfortable.

How do you stay motivated and resilient during tough times in your business?

Some days are harder than others, but overall, I love the challenge. This has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done (outside of beating cancer). I have never learned so much in a 360 degree direction before, and I find that exciting. It has been my experience that the hardest things are the most rewarding.

What advice would you give to other aspiring women entrepreneurs who are just starting out?

  • Figure out who exactly your customer is. 
  • Understand how to talk with them and see if your product solves their problem.  
  • Improve, rebuild, repeat.
  • When you have satisfied a small target group, then figure out your capital. 

Can you share a memorable success or milestone that you’ve achieved in your entrepreneurial career?

  • When I went to the shore and saw people wearing NoNetz, that was amazing.
  • The first time I ran payroll.
  • The first time I crossed the 6 figure revenue goal.
  • These milestones give me confidence that I can really do something successful and valuable with NoNetz.
- Advertisement -

Most Popular