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086: Inspiring Women & Girls in STEM with Kayte Malik
17th June 2019 • Do Well & Do Good • Dorothy Illson
00:00:00 00:29:04

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Kayte Malik is CEO of Dresscode Tech, a company that is merging fashion and technology to excite and educate women and girls about computer science, coding and STEM. Over the last 18 months Dresscode has exposed almost 3000 women and girls to STEM, and the company also gives back financially to fund STEM education. Kayte previously held strategy, tech, and marketing roles for Fortune 100 companies, but has found her passion with Dresscode and in 2018 was named to Remodista’s list of Women2Watch in Business Disruption.


Places to Find Kayte:

On Instagram @kaytemalik

Dresscode Tech on Instagram @dresscodetech

Dresscode Tech’s website


Show Notes:

[2:40] minute: Set the stage, what was life like growing up and what was the mindset around money and success that was instilled in you as a child?

  • Growing up in a very large family that taught her support and community.

[3:30] minute: Was entrepreneurship specifically instilled in you or was it more just success in a general sense?

  • Born with the drive to create something out of nothing.
  • Had one side of the family that showed her risk and building new things, with the other side showing her stability at a large corporation.
  • The mindset of “just get a job and stay there forever” won out in the beginning of her career.

[6:30] minute: You worked at a number of massive corporations and then decided to go back to business school, so what prompted that decision?

  • Mentor from one of the large corporations advised her it would be the best decision.
  • Used business school as a launching point to start a company herself vs going back to the large corporation.

[8:45] minute: How was the idea behind Dresscode born?

  • Started as a class project; wasn’t even the first idea to try in the class.
  • Decided right before her pitch to change to a brand new idea that became Dresscode.

[13:00] minute: Trusting your gut.

[14:00] minute: Could you explain a little bit about how Dresscode works and the product works?

  • Bracelets for girls that will give them an inspiring message each day, delivered in code that they have to go type into the website to decipher and open the first portion of the curriculum.

[14:50] minute: Why is it more important to get more women in tech?

  • In general, it’s more important to get more people involved to know what is going on and be in the know.
  • From a job perspective there are hundreds of thousands of jobs a year that go unfilled because there are not enough people with the skills.
  • If only men are created tech, then we are only going to get one audience creating things that help them.

[17:15] minute: I know Chicago has been a hotbed of Female founders in start-ups (where Dorothy and Kayte both live), what has been your experience founding a start-up in this environment?

  • The infrastructure is really great. 1871, ranked as one of the best incubators in the world, has a female founder focused program that has been huge.
  • The numerous quality business schools around the city are a luxury.

[19:00] minute: What advice would you have for a woman who is looking to start or grow there company?

  • Just start. Don’t contemplate or think to much, just start.
  • Make sure it has a good business case and you can get to profitability.
  • Engage the community; network and leverage those around you.

[20:10] minute: Were there any lessons from your time working with fortune 100 companies that have been especially valuable for you in starting Dresscode?

  • Miserable in her jobs, but taking a step back you realize that you learned so much.
  • Ecommerce and product management were two big ones.

[21:45] minute: How have mentors affected your journey?

  • Haven’t sought them out, but realized she had them after the fact.
  • Now she seeks out those she wants to emulate and ask them for help.
  • Going through the Chicago Innovation mentors for women program.

[24:15] minute: What is your vision for Dresscode in the next 5, 10 years, and beyond?

  • Beauty in innovation.
  • Big announcement coming soon on the next step into fashion tech.
  • Expand assortment, have a large retail presence.


Do Well & Do Good Challenge Nominee:

Chicago Innovation & 1871


“Chicago Innovation’s mission is to empower the Chicago innovation ecosystem by educating, connecting, and celebrating innovators.”


Where to Find Dorothy:

Visit Do Well and Do Good’s free Facebook community here and arrange a one-on-one with Dorothy herself!

Follow Dorothy on Instagram @dorothyillson to keep up with the latest Do Well & Do Good news!