Olivier Truong

Notes: Tyler Haney of Outdoor Voices on How I Built This Podcast

Tyler Haney wants to build an activewear brand targeted at recreational fitness wear. Athleasure. The brands that existed at the time (Nike etc.) were about professional athletes, being the best, etc. She wanted to wear similar things but without that competitiveness emotion attached to it. This was around 2014. Right around the time that activewear was blowing up.

  • She sketched out what she wanted her clothes to look like: a crop top and leggings.
  • Googled for the right fabric material and stumbled upon a national fair in Colorado where people who make fabrics go to meet customers.
  • She talked to a 100 people and one of them was this guy who was willing to help and answer questions.
  • She followed up over email after the fair ended. The guy sent her fabric samples so she could feel them in person and narrow down what kind of fabric she liked.
  • The guy had already been developing an active wear type fabric and he sent it to her. She loved it.
  • She asked fashion classmates from Parsons (she went to school there) for help on how to manufacture a prototype.
  • She went all over Midtown’s garment district, got rejected many times, and eventually found a company that would work with her.
  • A first prototype was made and she tried it out for a while. She found that the stitching prevented the clothes from stretching correctly and they were breaking all over the place.
  • She went back to that guy from Colorado and asked him for help. He connected her to a company in LA.
  • She showed the LA company her prototype and they knew exactly what was wrong and how to fix it. They needed to use a different kind of stitching.
  • She ordered 10 samples and flew to a big fair in Las Vegas to showcase her product and get buyers.
  • She purchased the smallest booth at $1200.
  • She got 7 purchase orders. One of them for 55 from a boutique shop in London.
  • 2 weeks passes and she gets a call from JCrew for a purchase order of $500K.
  • Raised 20-50K checks from relatives, connections, and fashion investor she googled for a total of 400K. More than enough to fulfill JCrew’s PO (Purchase Order)
  • Fulfilling the order went well. It sold fast at JCrew.
  • Emailed 25 investors. Got invited to pitch to 19. All said no.
  • They were all men. They didn’t understand the appeal of athleasure when companies like Nike and Under Armor existed.
  • Tyler started sending product to wives and girlfriends of VCs. She sent them to other people working in those VC offices. Eventually one VC said yes. His girlfriend had loved the product.
  • With 1.1M in seed money, she got an office and hired a few more people.
  • They started OutdoorVoices.com to sell to consumers directly.
  • Started “Dog jogs” in NY Central Park, a gathering for people to jog with their dogs. Emailed everyone they knew. 200 people showed up for the first event.
  • Opened first store in Austin, TX with $150K.
  • Collab with owner of quirky fashion blog “Men Repeller” to create a “Kit” with vintage jump ropes and OutdoorVoices wear
  • Lena Dunham, actress in Girls, was a reader of the blog. She bought the kit and wore it on a Girls episode and posted about it.
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