Cat Wennekamp was lucky enough to travel as a young child. These journeys not only gave her wonderful exposure to different cultures but also an innate ability to adapt. From ages 3 to 6, she and her family lived in England before moving back to the manicured suburbs of Darien, Connecticut. Although not as culturally diverse as London, Connecticut gave her access to New York, where her creativity was inspired by the city’s bustling energy and diversity.
Cat’s successful parents instilled in her a deep work ethic. Her father, Richard Wennekamp, was the first assistant to President Gerald Ford at age 32. Her mother, Beatrice, aka Tati, worked as a major event producer for UCLA, where she met Richard during a presidential visit. Before Cat was born, Richard decided to leave politics and venture into banking. It was while he worked for Bank of America that his family made the moves to London and the U.S. East Coast; they settled in Manhattan Beach in 1999.
Cat says her formative years were very happy. “I had a beautiful childhood with great role models as parents. They are such incredible people.” She attended Pacific Elementary School, Manhattan Beach Middle School and Mira Costa High School, where she played soccer.
A class in fashion arts started her trajectory into the fashion industry. She instantly fell in love with the process of creating something out of nothing and creating beauty out of scraps. Cat took her newfound obsession to the next level with some precollege courses at Southern California Regional Occupational Center. This sparked a mini- fashion show and entrance into the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising.
While at school, Cat was hungry to prove herself and enter the workforce. Through a connection, she met with the fashion stylist for the late Whitney Houston, who invited her to shadow him on his next job in Malibu. She jumped at the offer. She was mesmerized by the stylist’s display of professionalism, emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills. He was creating an identity not only for the model but for the brand. She soaked up every detail. Soon he took her on as his assistant, and she quickly learned the ins and outs of the business.
Once she was ready to venture out on her own, Cat produced a website and began her solo styling career. Hustling right out the gate, she emailed 100 photographers she liked and got a response from Zoey Grossman. They quickly became friends and started their careers hand-in-hand. Together they created beautiful, dreamy concepts and editorial test shoots.
Cat scrounged vintage clothing stores and her own closet for inspiration. When one of test shoots turned up on the cover of Oyster magazine, Zoey called her and said, “I think our lives are about to change.”
She was right. Cat got an opportunity to style for a Levi’s campaign, followed by another huge break styling a music video for then-up-and-coming singer Bruno Mars. She was only 20. From that moment on, the work rolled in—magazine covers, high-end fashion editorials, corporate advertising campaigns and celebrity styling for the likes of Heidi Klum and John Legend.
At first Cat declined a few offers to be on reality TV. When Diane Von Furstenberg called and invited her to be on the second season of House of DVF on the E! network, she couldn’t refuse. From that exposure she developed a small fan base.
Cat’s sister Christine suggested she use her newfound notoriety to do something different. She planted the seed for creating an app that promoted stylists. Cat recognized a need among her clients and friends who wanted fashion help and hated the hassle and pressure of shopping. Styleguise debuted as a way to make high-end personal styling services accessible to everyone.
The app offers on-demand functionality services, so clients can hire a stylist, shop outfits and achieve elevated looks at a moment’s notice. Along with her ex-husband/best friend Sam Tapper as a business partner, Cat officially launched the app in January 2020. With only 15 professional stylists on board, Cat says she is selective about which ones can properly represent the brand. Most are either well-known celebrity stylists or veteran personal shoppers who have their own client following.
Styleguise aims to make high-end fashion accessible to both men and women. Similar to Airbnb, you can see which stylists are closest to you, browse their profiles, view their hourly rates, portfolios and services they provide. You can either chat with them first or book them for a convenient time and place.
“We aren’t trying to scale to be the biggest company in the world right now. We’re just earning people’s trust by giving them that aha moment where they can’t turn back,” shares Cat. “I want our clients to use our stylists like they would a personal trainer, as a form of self-care.”
With social distancing in full effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cat has transitioned to helping clients with their fashion needs virtually. She offers FaceTime closet edits and online shopping to find the pieces clients need to refresh their wardrobe.
“We help our clients by taking the stress out of getting ready with looks completely customized to their style and budget—building them the wardrobe of their dreams,” she explains. “We believe fashion and great personal style are for everyone.”