“Why not have one place where you can find everything yacht-related?” This simple question is what sparked the idea for yacht Stewardess Katherine Blewett to launch Boatique, an online marketplace created by yachties for yachties.
Blewett recalls countless hours spent trying to find just the right items for the superyachts she’s worked on — trying to source everything from tablescapes to beach furniture. Products for yachts need to be luxurious and unique enough to give guests an unforgettable experience, but also be functional enough to withstand salty conditions and be easily stored on board.
“Every single day you are part of the operation of maintaining the vessel or providing a service to its guests.”
Blewett knows firsthand how finding exactly the right products for yachts can be incredibly time-consuming. “I was tasked with organizing several events in the Maldives on a yacht, including a massive beach set-up for a New Year’s Eve party, trying to find items that reflected a yacht-standard from the knives and forks on the table to appropriate beach furniture and umbrellas…the list was endless!” says Blewett.
After facing this sort of arduous shopping task for the umpteenth time in her career, she dreamed up the idea for a store that understood the unique demands of buying products for superyachts, taking into account how products are packaged, how they will be stored on board (recognizing that storage is often at a premium and a complicated feat in and of itself), how they will be carried to and from set-ups, and how the natural elements would affect them.
“Working as a stewardess and also in various admin roles on board yachts in my career gave me lots of experience in procurement and the various products a yacht uses,” she says. This experience is what gives Blewett and her team an advantage in being able to help yacht crew. “As crew, you live and breathe the products you use,” she says. “Every single day you are part of the operation of maintaining the vessel or providing a service to its guests.”
Boatique has a growing team of five people, all of whom are yachties. “They believe in the solution we are providing at Boatique as they too wish they could use something like this to make their jobs easier on board,” she says. Thanks to experience, the Boatique team understands the high standards expected by yacht owners and guests and the necessary items crew need to be able to meet these expectations. “You know what products work best, feel best, and give the best experience to your guests,” she says.
Boatique also offers an opportunity to vendors who want to more easily and directly sell to the yachting market. Blewett reports that many vendors are interested in the new kind of marketplace that Boatique is creating, which is a disruptive solution to how business had traditionally been done on yachts.
The goal for Boatique isn’t to be a smaller version of Amazon, but instead, a luxurious “boutique” shopping experience. “Boatique will have our favorite hand-picked brands that are both popular on yachts, while also creating an opportunity for new players (vendors) to enter the industry, which is known for its rigidity.”
Products for yachts need to be luxurious and unique enough to give guests an unforgettable experience, but also be functional enough to withstand salty conditions and be easily stored on board.
Blewett worked on boats for 3.5 years before taking on a land-based role at YCO for the past two years. She has just returned to working on boats — as part of being entirely dedicated to her new business.
She also took part in the first Yachting Ventures startup accelerator cohort to help launch Boatique. She works a full day on board and spends lunch and hours off prioritizing deadlines and arranging meetings with her team and web developer. “I have learned to delegate and that having a team with a vision is super important and very essential when balancing two worlds — I am very fortunate to have an amazing team that I have grown around me.”
Juggling a full-time job as yacht crew while building a company from scratch is not an easy process. “Time becomes incredibly precious!” Blewett says. All the more reason to have a time-saving place to shop for exactly what her yacht needs.
This article originally ran in the June 2021 issue of Dockwalk.