Founder and CEO of Knockout
Kate Davis is the founder of Knockout, a brand of self-defense rings that make women feel more powerful.
Have you ever felt unsafe when walking alone, put your keys between your fingers, and kept them balled up in a sharp-edged fist by your side? Here’s where the Knockout rings come in, rings designed with self-defense in mind — each with an elegantly versatile edge that transitions from sleek to sharp in an instant.
Kate started Knockout from her NYC apartment in 2016. After taking a wax carving class and learning how to make her own jewelry, she started making rings for herself and her friends. She noticed that the rings made them all feel more confident and empowered, not just as a fashion piece, but as ready tools for self-defense if needed. And as they say, the rest is history...
We had the honor of connecting with Kate, and asking her a couple of questions about Knockout:
Firstly, what inspired you to start Knockout? What were some of the first hurdles you had to overcome?
When I started making Knockout rings, I was really just making them for myself. I took a jewelry-making class while I was working at an arts foundation, and I loved creating custom accessories for myself. While wearing them around New York City, I realized I was feeling safer in situations that normally made me feel unsafe (e.g. walking under scaffolding, being on the subway at night, and walking home after going out with friends). My friends asked me to make them rings, and I started selling them at small events. The early challenges I faced were financial and confidence-focused. I felt boastful telling people I started my own company, and I didn’t want to be in the spotlight. That took a LONG time to shake off, and I’m still working on it. I started my company at around 25 years old, and I didn’t realize that to get people to take me seriously, I had to be confident. I also built up quite a bit of credit card debt having rings made, ordering custom packaging, and participating in craft shows and pop-up events.
How has your background in arts administration, and your past experiences, influenced Knockout?
In some ways, my past experiences guided me toward a field of work that allows me to work from home and keep my own hours. I don’t love working in an office environment with a rigid schedule. My two most recent job roles were in support of an organization and individuals whose work was meaningful and based on the arts. I learned to support an artistic endeavor and advocate for the importance of the work being done. I built my confidence as a young professional, which has definitely carried over to my confidence in launching my own company. I might not have been confident talking about Knockout, but I knew I could grow the company into something great and meaningful.
What do you wake up looking forward to today?
I LOVE waking up to my own schedule. I start my day with a matcha tea (learning to make all of this at home during COVID) and my gratitude journal. I then plan my day in my Priority Planner by Rachel Hollis (such a fabulous tool to stay organized). Whenever I have a photoshoot or call with someone, it adds some nice spice to my day.
What advice would you pass along to fellow (and aspiring) entrepreneurs?
Ask other business owners for advice! It’s okay not to know things. I pretended to know what I was doing for SO long, but I learned a ton by asking questions of other entrepreneurs who weren’t competitive. Also, develop an Instagram. It’s such an important business tool with great analytics.