How this entrepreneur created a designer activewear brand from scratch
There’s a method of madness in some things we choose to do. If you’re an artist or in the creative industry, working on your artwork for three months could be an average time frame expected to create a hand drawn masterpiece.
But when you’re doing 15 pieces simultaneously and using them as the artwork on high performance sportswear – that’s a whole level of madness altogether. That’s what I did when I started Lady Bold, a designer activewear collection.
With no background in fashion design or business, I never thought I’d dive into the pool of entrepreneurship, unless you consider my profession as a business of Contract manufacturers writer as some kind of experience. My career spanned 10 years in business-lifestyle and health journalism. I interviewed entrepreneurs and start-ups and while they relayed to me their incredible challenges, I could only try to emphatise. Until, I took the plunge and it’s not that the grass is greener on the other side, it’s a lot more colourful! And, my business revolves around colour.
When art and fitness met.
So, there’s sportswear, with your mainstream and typically uniformed prints that are popular with the masses. Then there’s Lady Bold – with colourful and eccentric artwork for those who want to flaunt their inner (or outer) extrovert and make a statement.
What got me started was simply my innate love for drawing and beautiful things together with a long time passion for fitness.
That’s how Lady Bold was born. Fitness attire, or now popularly known as Activewear has become a lifestyle. But in such a saturated and competitive fitness apparel market, you have to stand out especially if you’re an emerging brand. That boded well with me as I don’t do ordinary, hence everything about the brand is on the edge of edginess. The initial reaction is a Wow from the public, whether a good or bad Wow, the designs always spark conversations.
Every piece is meticulously hand drawn and coloured by inks and then digitised on software.
There was also months of research that went to sourcing for comfortable yet durable fabrics for any fitness activity or just to lounge around on your rest days. The technical details are very thorough, but I was absolutely particular that the quality and manufacturing had to replicate some leading international athletic clothing brands as both design and function are important.
Just do it, and then some!
When you’re working on your own business, it stems from an idea and it’s manifested into something real. You’ll find that you have so many things on your mind that you just need to get things done.
With all my savings gone into manufacturing the stock, I couldn’t afford a photographer, logo and website designer or model. So I did all that myself and more. The lessons I learned were invaluable and it means more to you if you’re 100% involved in the creation of your business.
The main challenge of this business as with many other small businesses is to operate at minimal cost or with very low overheads. Decisions have to be calculated for you to see your return on investments (ROIs) sooner than later. With this, I broke even and made back my savings in five months, but that’s a different story for next time!
But it wasn’t (and still isn’t) easy creating an artistic activewear brand, especially when most of us are used to generic designs or at most, random splashes of colours. The idea of artwork on high quality performance apparel is still at an infancy to many, but one that has entered the market at the right time.
Every body is awesome.
As for the business of athletic clothing, we implicitly know that what we wear defines who we are. That’s how some brands have successfully created a loyal following.
For Lady Bold, the designs speak for themselves as each has a story to tell and it’s own name created from its inspiration or from a pun. As a journalist, I love playing with words and puns!
When I display my booth at designer markets in Melbourne, it’s done up like an art gallery and customers are drawn to a particular design that captures their hearts – as cliche as that sounds. They aren’t just investing in another pair of activewear top or bottoms, but also an original work of art that’s not available elsewhere.
There’s no stereotyped body size or shape that Lady Bold endorses (I’m currently working on a more optional size range). My youngest customer is 12 and oldest is around 70 and they have one things in common – they want an outlet of self expression and to stand out.
Coming to the 10th month of operations, and Lady Bold is still going strong and boldly. I’ll continue to share some triumphs and tribulations along the way and how thinking way out of the box can help to overcome some obstacles.
I truly hope that women of all shapes and sizes will be able to enjoy and confidently wear the range. I foresee a day where all women will be confident in their own skin and living a healthy lifestyle – with no Bold’s barred!