In 2006, I started Evolve as a side-gig in Los Angeles setting up pop-up shops on the weekends in about 15 different gyms. At the time, I had a great full-time job as a sales rep for a footwear manufacturer, but the feeling of working for myself and building my own business started to really call to my entrepreneurial spirit.
As Evolve began grow and take over more of my life, I knew that I had to grow with it. Even though I knew nothing about running an online business, I took all my savings, moved to Portland, and taught myself to create, design, and develop an ecommerce site. I invested everything I had into Evolve, and it worked! Evolve has grown so much, but no matter what I enjoy learning and working with my developers to improve the site. In the past few years Evolve has grown from it just being myself to having a full staff who are all absolutely integral to Evolve’s success.
There is a saying that if you aren’t working for your dream, than you’re working for someone else’s. My dream for Evolve is to be a healthy work place where my staff feel apart of this collaborative dream. This is a place where we can work on ourselves, and feel heard as we build this brand together. I wanted to make Evolve more community than company. Part of that community is offering small emerging designers a place to showcase their lines, and have a chance to really be successful. Most of our brands are also philanthropic as they give back to the communities and causes that are close to them. That is a really important thing to us, and those are the types of businesses and entrepreneurs that deserve to be seen.
Since the days of setting up in gyms, I have seen activewear styles go from embellished thick supplex in the early 2000’s to organic cotton pieces from Green Apple and OmGirl in the mid 2000’s. This last decade, Printed Leggings really began to draw new attention to activewear. When Bikram and hot yoga began to draw in huge numbers of yogis, brands like Teeki and Onzie, really made their name for hot-yoga ready printed leggings and birthed a whole new way that women wear activewear.
Right now we are seeing this trend of ditching the denim for activewear. High-end designers like Alo Yoga, Varley, and Splits59 are really embarking upon this athleisure trend by incorporating mesh and moto-styles to their lines. Even bigger design houses like Free People and Mara Hoffman, who are more known for runways than running, are beginning to take notice and create their own lines of activewear. It is a really exciting time to be in this industry, as it shifts and solidifies its niche in not only fitness but fashion.
In terms of expanding our customer base, we are really working hard to expand our selection of men’s clothing. Yoga isn’t just for the ladies anymore, and the men’s market has largely been ignored so far. This year we are also going to start adding swimwear, footwear, and more lifestyle pieces to the site. We also have our own line of activewear that is set to launch Spring of 2017.
The upcoming year we will also begin working towards being a fully interactive site that will host online yoga, pilates, and at-home workout videos. A large portion of our customer base are busy women who have jobs, children, and limited time to make it to a gym or studio. Of course all the clothes featured in these videos would available through our ecommerce site, so giving women outfit inspiration would be a huge part of that.
As we grow our staff in Portland our physical presence will need to grow with us. Expanding into a retail store is on our radar since activewear options are limited here in Portland. Sure there are big box stores and high end famous yoga brands, but there is a growing demand for what we specialize in that we’d love to fulfill.
All in all, this is a really exciting time for us!