Repeat startup founder Kraus aims to empower women through entrepreneurship

Janet Kraus has the low-down on what it takes to start a new company. Over the past 22 years, she has co-founded three vastly different startups.

Circles, founded in 1996, was a database of Massachusetts service providers. Spire, founded in 2007, was a travel agency of sorts. Kraus sold both companies.

Today, Kraus is the co-founder and CEO of Peach, an “athleisure” apparel brand founded in 2014 with a mission to empower women.

“Our mission is to elevate every woman every day and to help women thrive personally and professionally,” Kraus said at the Stephens College Women’s Leadership Luncheon on Oct. 24 in Columbia.

“The beautiful thing about a brand and a product is that you can infuse it with more than just the attributes (of that brand).”

Peach seeks to empower women by providing versatile apparel and opening its business model to customers.

“We’re creating an opportunity for women to become fashion and fitness stylists while not having to have all of the extreme risk and burden,” Kraus said.

The company is based out of the Boston area and currently operates a network of about 700 self-managed stylists across the nation. Stylists can sell Peach products through social media, product parties and trunk shows.

“Women can have a fabulous community, a wonderful culture and be able to earn a meaningful income at whatever pace or size or scale (they want) to,” Kraus said

Peach launches four collections a year and, with each launch, features a product, such as a tote bag, from an emerging female entrepreneur. The idea is to give up-and-coming women founders national exposure to grow their venture, and it serves as the third prong of Peach’s mission of female empowerment.

“We want to bring others up with us as we rise,” Kraus said.

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