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New women’s-only brands seem to be launching every season. Sally Bergesen, CEO at women’s running apparel brand Oiselle, said women rule — and that’s why so many female-oriented brands have popped up in recent years.
Women do indeed control a majority of the global spending power, and they’re seeking out products that are stylish and comfortable.
Bergesen, who founded Oiselle because she was done with “poofy” running shorts, said she followed her passion in launching a women’s-only brand. She also aims to encourage competition and ambition while delivering a product that looks good and performs well.
Bergesen talks with SNEWS about trends we should expect to see in fall 2014, what she feels are important supply-chain issues and what challenges she’s faced since launching her business.
What are some of the trends in women’s running apparel that we should expect to see for fall 2014?
More translucent fabrics that are both lightweight for performance and visually interesting for style. More interesting seamless designs and garments. New fabrics with unique textures and performance qualities
Why do you think there has been an increase in the number of women’s-only brands in recent years?
Because women rock and rule.
What does Oiselle offer that other women’s brands don’t?
We call our brand “feminine fierce” and it’s what sets us apart. The combining of grace and beauty in design — with the edge of competition and fire in athletic goals, ambition. Many women’s brands nail the first part, but shy away from the second. Our notion is that you can have both. We need both.
Tell us about the history of your company?
It all started with wanting non-poofy running shorts and has simply grown from there. But great product is just the beginning. We’re where we are today because we’ve had the good fortune of building a team that is completely passionate about what they do and want to go to the moon.
Tell us about the significance of your name?
Oiselle is French for bird. From a business and brand standpoint, it’s unique, memorable, ownable. From a story standpoint, it equals freedom and flight — the emotional power of running for so many women, myself included.
What have been some of the challenges in starting this business?
You name it: Hiring, firing, sourcing, creating, moving, boxing, shipping and still being sane and present for family.
How has it grown over the years?
Everything has grown and changed – most for the better. Having a business is like having a child. You see it go through all its stages, from infancy to the gangly teenage years. I feel like Oiselle is just starting to come out of that. She’s a young woman now on the verge of a very interesting life.
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve gotten?
Keep going — best running advice. too.
What is it you love most about running this business?
Having a family; we call it #runfamily.
What are some of the issues that are important to you?
If you’re not interested in starting a business, maybe think about the companies you purchase from. I used to be the worst at this — shopping by price, where cheaper equaled better. Now that I’ve learned more about the industry, and the realities of factories and sourcing, I care a lot more about where the products I buy come from. One of the most unfortunate trends right now, in my opinion, is “fast fashion” — the H&Ms of the world. There’s a reason the product is so inexpensive, and most consumers don’t want to look beneath the surface. On the flip side, there are a ton of companies that are doing well by doing right from denim, like Nudie Jeans, to outerwear, like Patagonia, to lingerie like Hanky Panky.