I recently had the opportunity to visit with Abby Marr, the owner and creator of Fittd Brand Clothing. Fittd is a line of fitness apparel that imprints motivational slogans across t-shirts. These motivational bits of true inspiration help give the beginner or experienced athlete the push needed to finish that last struggling rep or marathon mile. Being that we are still at the beginning of the year and most people are still incorporating their new lifestyle (and resolution) fitness changes, what better time than now to talk fitness, health and the importance of staying inspired?
Here is my inspiring conversation with Abby Marr, the owner and creator of Fittd Brand Clothing.
Why did you decide to start Fittd?
Abby: There are a number of reasons that Fittd just fit perfectly into my life and the future I envisioned for myself and my family.
1) “In March of 2012, I saw a picture of myself and was stunned at what I looked like. I had let myself go after getting married (as many women do). I joined Myfitnesspal.com, started counting calories, walking more, and taking better care of myself. By late summer, I hit a plateau and that's when I revisited weightlifting, something I did a lot of in high school and college (mainly to get out of more thought provoking classes ;-). I started studying the science behind body building and lived that life for awhile. Through research, I came across a husband and wife team who had created their own brand of fitness apparel for bodybuilders. It was a little too niche to appeal to everyone at EVERY level of fitness. I thought this was a genius idea. Everyone should have access to fitness apparel that inspires them!”
2) “I come from a very entrepreneurial family. It's in my blood! My parents own a construction company. My grandparents owned a dairy farm. So many of my family members have been self-sufficient with their own businesses. I saw the freedom and pride that comes with running your own business.”
3) “As much as I love my day job, and the experiences I've had in marketing and sales with local businesses, I've just envisioned being my own boss someday. Until the day comes that Fittd is profitable enough, I'll continue to dedicate my days to my day job!”
What's the story behind your business name Fittd?
Abby: “You know, I'm not really sure how the name came about! Pardon the pun, but it just fit! It encompassed what I wanted for myself; a FIT life, and there's also a pride that comes with being able to show off a body you've worked hard for. When you're proud of your hard work, you want to wear something "Fitted"...so there the name was born. But with NO "E" for "No Excuses!"
There are hundreds of t-shirt companies out in the market. What makes Fittd different from the rest?
Abby: “One of the things that bothers me about other t-shirt companies is that they are completely lacking originality. Once someone comes up with an inspirational fitness phrase that’s popular, it's everywhere. No one thinks for themselves, or really puts themselves in the mind of a person who's feeling down about slow progress in their fitness life, or deserves a pat on the back for sticking with it and working their butt off! I will not create something that I've seen before. I do extensive research to make sure that no one has ever made a shirt like it, or that the saying isn't copyrighted. And if or when someone begins copying my sayings, I'll just come up with more! That's the beauty of it; there's no limit to the creative, encouraging thoughts that can touch people's lives and inspire them to make a healthy change!
I'm beginning to work with a graphic designer who is going to create a series of designs featuring animals working out in the gym. This series is called "I'm an Animal." It will be signed art on a fitness t-shirt. There's nothing else out there like that!”
Tell me all about the Fittd brand. Who would most benefit from Fittd products?
Abby: “Right now, Fittd is mostly targeted to women. That's just because, well, I'm a woman, and that's what I know. I've been around athletes my whole life, my college roommates being collegiate volleyball and basketball players. I've also had many friends who are naturally thin, and didn't have to try hard to lose weight but were not particularly living/eating healthy. I feel like I know the different fitness levels at which someone might find them self. With that knowledge, I can create motivational sayings (with bright colors and style, of course) that apply to people who are just getting off the couch for the first time, those who need to up their game, or those who, like mentioned above, are ready to show off their hard work. In the future, I want to create clothes that appeal to men who need motivation or are proud of their work and are ready to show it off!”
Where can someone purchase your products?
Abby: “The clothes are currently available on Etsy.com at www.etsy.com/shop/fittdbrandclothing. Since these shirts are printed and the pants dyed in my home, they qualify to be sold on this art website. The site also has a great following, kind of like a built-in audience. So far the site has driven a lot of traffic to my Fittd shop, so I'll stick with this method for awhile. If the brand gets big enough, it will warrant its own stand alone e-commerce site.
In the future, you'll see me at all the women's expos in town as well as the Fit for Life expo in accordance with Wichita's Prairie Fire Marathon. “
How did you go about funding the company?
Abby: “My husband and I are working toward reducing any bad debt that we have, so taking out a small business loan was not an option. I realized that because of this, I'd have to start on a very small scale. I sold an antique camera collection that I had, a portable spray tanning system, and some other electronics and household items that we weren't using. With this, along with a gift from my parents, I was able to buy a small single screen-printing press. Funds from my day job went toward buying the first batches of t-shirts and tank tops. I'm starting very small. BUT, luckily, I have NO loans to pay back! Everything that comes in is mine and I can put it back into the business to grow Fittd!”
What does entrepreneurship as a woman mean to you and how important is it?
Abby: “It means everything to me!! There are some incredible female entrepreneurs out there who have started small, and have built amazingly successful companies and created products that have endless staying power. Women have an intuition that if listened to, can change the world. In lieu of selecting just one female entrepreneur who is inspirational, I'll refer to a fictional female who I view as a hero. Dagny Taggert of Atlas Shrugged is an example of how a woman should stay true to what she feels is right. In the story, she never gives up, and works harder than most of the men around her. Women have the ability to be hugely successful when they put that kind of passion into their work!”
I know that you have just started your business here recently, but everyone has words of wisdom no matter their business stage. What advice would you give someone that is thinking about starting a business?
Abby: “Well I don't know that I'm the best at giving advice, but what has resonated with me in this venture is the simple phrase "DON'T GIVE UP." In the past, I've been someone who can be easily discouraged and automatically think that God is telling me, "This isn't the right path for you" when things got difficult. I've given up on selling real estate, playing guitar and many other smaller "hobbies" that I've taken on. This time I'm taking a more logical approach. I've set goals. I have a solid plan. If I don't meet the goals despite doing everything in my power to reach them, I'll simply readjust, reevaluate, and move forward full speed. When I start to question my designs, my decisions, etc. I tell myself over and over "Don't Give Up! Don't Give Up! This could be something BIG."
How do you envision Fittd in the future?
Abby: “As mentioned above, I have set goals and milestones for myself. Some have said they are ambitious, but if you don't set goals high, you have nothing out of your comfort zone to work towards. By the end of March, I want to be selling an average of 4 items per day. By the end of June, 8 items/day. Upgrade my equipment by the end of May.
Long term, I want this to be a full-time gig. I'll get up in the morning as if I'm going to work, but work is in my basement, and in my home office. I look forward to going to the post office with a box full of items going off to their new homes! I would love for Fittd to become a nationally known brand. I want to play a role in designing the actual garments and fabrics. I want to see Fittd on the fitness models in SELF and MuscleRX magazine. I want to see the athletes in the Crossfit games wearing Fittd Brand Clothing. I think if I stay on track, and "Don't Give Up" this is a great possibility!"
Before my visit with Abby, I thought I would go to her website and take a peek at her creations.
I was immediately drawn to all of the inspirational ideas that Abby presented in her clothing line. Having been a runner since my early twenties, one t-shirt especially caught my attention. The t-shirt read "I run to see who has the most guts". Let's just say that I had to have it! So I went to the website and ordered it. Shipping was incredibly fast because it was in my mailbox the next day. My order was so neatly arranged in the container and the shirt was folded so beautifully with the slogan visible through the packaging.
I wanted to put it on right then and there and go downstairs to run, but I’m one of those girls that like to run in old t-shirts and sweats. I figured I'd save my beautiful t-shirt for after my run! That's exactly what I did. Why mess up a gorgeous new shirt by getting it all sweaty? (ok, I do know that's what it's for). I like to wear my "good" workout gear around the house, to the market, I guess a bit like loungewear or even treat it like an outfit. I put the t-shirt on and it was so incredibly soft and fit like a glove. I wear it proudly! (Did I mention shipping was free?)
Clearly, Abby is off to a tremendous start on her new business and I am sure we will continue to see more of her and her Fittd Brand Clothing. We wish her more continued success and prosperity to come.