Active Joy Origin Story
Life is an adventure...
My deeply held belief in that is what propelled me, palms sweaty and mouth dry, into my boss’s office to quit my dream job at 28 years old.
But let’s start at the beginning.
When I was a kid I used to spend entire Saturdays wandering around the mall. It’s not a huge surprise to anybody that I would go on to spend my career working in retail, despite my insistence that I would be a pop sensation. I took a job in that same hometown mall working on a shop floor, folding sweaters and styling customers. Following college graduation, I moved to London impulsively, paying for a studio apartment where the kitchen was conveniently located in a closet with my first permanent corporate job.
I worked as a planning manager and buyer for a multi-billion-dollar retailer that was opening new stores and expanding into more countries. My job involved weekly travel and my lifestyle was busy. I loved my fitness classes so much that I became a group fitness instructor and I got involved in community theater, one of my favorite memories is playing the princess in a traditional English pantomime. It makes sense that of all the areas I was assigned to, activewear stood out as my favorite.
Fashion has a magic to it. It lets you present yourself to the world however you choose. It’s playful, exciting, and I loved experimenting with different looks and combinations. And since it was literally my job to hang out in shops, it was a rare day that I didn’t come home with something in tow.
Enter life change.
One day my personal trainer was making me do intervals on the rowing machine and announced that she was moving to Australia for a year on a working holiday visa. On the way home I swung by the shop for a 6-pack of beer and the moment I walked through my front door I said to my wife, “Let’s move to Australia.”
By the time the bottles were empty, the decision was made. I loved my job, but every time my colleague talked to me about his recent sabbatical, I got a little feeling in the pit of my stomach. I also got that nagging feeling when I visited my vendors who told me stories of building their brands around their values and lifestyles, how their staff takes the afternoon off when the surf is up. Someone smart told me once “follow your bad feelings”, and I decided that was good advice.
After making the decision to take time off to travel, and also to move back to the US, I was faced with a couple realities:
1. I had to pack up all my things into boxes that cost money to ship across the ocean (and also to insure for the trip)
2. Whatever I decided to pack in my backpack, I had to physically be able to carry it
I was faced with the literal weight of my stuff.
I had about a month to go from fashion buyer with a brimming closet to basically a minimalist, so off to the charity shop and the trash all my things went. Boxes and boxes and boxes went. And to be honest, I cannot recall a single item that I discarded. But I can tell you every single item that was in my 60-litre backpack.
In particular, my black leggings got me through every situation. I camped, hiked, slept, flew, drove, and explored in them. My wife and I lived for a short stint in Australia, road-tripped around both islands of New Zealand and backpacked across Southeast Asia. I wore them the first time we ever went on a multi-day hike in Fiordland National Park. (I was so scared I would get lost!) I wore them when I got on a motorbike at 4am to see the sunrise over temples in Myanmar. (Also, afraid I would get lost!)
So the idea sparked for Active Joy.
Activewear that is less about the clothes and more about what you get to do in them. Less about the thrill of the buy and more about the joy of owning.
I’ve learned to approach life much like I do traveling: the journey is more important than the destination, be ready for anything, try to travel with a light load, and leave every place and person better than how you found it. Active Joy is a reflection of that.
I want to create the only legging you need for a backpacking trip so the load is a little lighter. Activewear that you can wear to class, to a meeting, to a rock-climbing gym, to yoga, to brunch and up a mountain so you never have to change your outfit. Items that are so versatile that your closet space and wallet will thank you.
So here it goes.
I’m throwing out the corporate rulebook and making it up as I go along. Instead of chasing trends, I seek to create long-lasting solutions for an active lifestyle. Instead of fitting on a perfectly proportioned size medium, I want to fit on real women of all sizes. Instead of cutting costs, I’m adding them. Instead of looking for growing profit year after year, I’m measuring value by the triple-bottom-line: people, planet and profit.
It’s scary, not knowing what comes next and being a first-time entrepreneur. I don’t know anything for sure besides the fact that it will be an adventure.