Hi all! It's me, Layna! I was so honored to be featured in the Cal Poly Alumni Magazine to tell the story of starting 75 and to share more about my time at Cal Poly in the Women in Business Association. You can read the official article here by Pat Pemberton or below.
Dressed for Success: Women in Business President Uplifts Peers While Running Boutique She Co-Founded
During a soccer game her sophomore year in high school, Layna Hathaway was aiming for a header when she got sandwiched between two other players in a head-jarring collision.
“I got rocked,” she recalled. “I remember falling down and getting up in the car with my parents.”
While that concussion would limit her school attendance for the next five months, Hathaway eventually returned to the soccer field. But another head injury during her senior year – her third concussion – marked a permanent end to her playing days, leaving a major void.
“Soccer was my friend group and very much part of my identity,” said Hathaway, a business administration student concentrating on human resources and management. “You spend so much time doing something five days a week and on the weekends, and then you just don’t.”
With soccer suddenly gone, Hathaway turned to another passion.“I really wear my heart on my sleeve, and I always found a way of self expression through my clothes,” she said. “Clothes were always my sense of individuality and creativity.”
Putting that passion to practice, Hathaway co-founded a clothing store, 75 Degrees & Fuzzy, with her mother while in high school. And now she shares her experiences as a young entrepreneur with others as president of the Women in Business Club (WIB).
“Layna’s experience with 75 and Fuzzy has given her the experience and platform to uplift and empower other women, as well as prove herself as an accomplished person in the world of business,” said Madison Ngo, a financial management student and WIB’s director of finance & development.
Hathaway’s fascination with fashion began as a young child growing up in San Clemente.
“She was always playing dress-up and creating and producing plays – “show time” – since she began to talk,” said her mother, Tanya Hathaway. “Of course, with all shows comes costumes and styles.”
That affinity for fashion continued in middle school, when Hathaway might wear pink shoes and fuzzy jackets, and in high school, when she would dress for a mood or occasion.
“If I was giving a speech, I’d wear a cheetah print because I’m gonna be fierce,” she said. “Or if I was going to something that required formal wear, I’d wear a gray, fuzzy one that made me look older. I was always projecting how I would spend the day through the clothes.”
When concussions cut her soccer career short, she turned to “retail therapy,” visiting the Los Angeles fashion district with her mom, seeking deals. When her friends offered favorable feedback, she began selling to them, which led to escalated shopping: She and her mother eventually acquired a wholesale license, which allowed them to buy in bulk.
Tanya Hathaway, who had previously worked as a sales engineer with Tyco Electronics and later helped her husband build his business as an independent industrial sales representative, was happy to help.
“I grew up in a family business in Pennsylvania and welcomed Layna’s invitation to start a business,” Tanya Hathaway said.
They sold clothing at open markets, co-ops and street fairs, sometimes dragging carloads of clothing and setting up booths at 6 a.m. Then, during the pandemic, they took it further, opening a store in Carlsbad.
“Clothes were always my sense of individuality and creativity.”
The name 75 Degrees & Fuzzy derived from a college essay line about Layna’s outfits, which often entailed fuzzy jackets.
“Being from San Clemente, it was always 75 degrees out,” she said. “And people would say, ‘Why are you always wearing these ridiculous jackets in 75-degree weather?’ And it was just my way of making a statement, my mark.”
As the business prospered, her mother took on the manager role while Hathaway helped with purchasing and led a team that built a social media and web presence. The marketing paid off, as people from Orange County and well beyond were drawn to the store’s clothing, which channels the Southern California lifestyle.
“I’ve purchased everything from T-shirts and sweatshirts to high-end suit jackets and dresses,” said Peyton Johnson, a friend and long-time customer. “Everything she offers is high quality, directly from the higher-end side of boutique apparel.”
“I loved the energy of the school,” she said.
Once she began taking business courses, Hathaway learned important lessons about accounting, marketing and important daily functions that helped the shop.
“I’ve loved the process of Learn by Doing and taking what I’ve learned in marketing classes and applying it to real life,” said Hathaway, who works for 75 Degrees and Fuzzy roughly 20 hours a week while in school.
Meanwhile, knowing how impactful WIB was to her, Hathaway became involved with the club her freshman year.
“Going into that program gave me so much confidence,” she said. “It’s really a group of people that is always going to uplift you.”
As president, she tries serve as a mentor for others while also serving as a student ambassador, promoting the Orfalea College of Business.
“A lot of things that I’ve been passionate about at school – with 75, ambassadors, and WIB – have all been about giving others confidence and giving back to something that has given me a lot. That’s what I get fired up and excited about.”
Ngo calls Hathaway a positive light.
“I think the people around her can truly sense her creativity, her strong self-expression, her bubbly personality, and the joy she carries within herself when interacting with her,” Ngo said.
After graduation this spring, Hathaway will join Ernst and Young in a workforce advisory role, which will include DEI work, organizational effectiveness, and corporate communication. One day, she said, she would like to start her own fashion brand. Meanwhile, she will continue to run 75 and Fuzzy with her mother.
“I would not be anywhere today without her mentorship and support,” Hathaway said, “and it has been something super special that we can do together.”