SXSW had a great lineup for fashion with tracks ranging from the figures behind top fashion brands like Marc Jacobs to YouTube influencer up and comers. Sessions explored how the industry is changing, from materials to design, online purchasing habits, and of course, what it takes to succeed.
One great example of brand innovation came in the form of Tyler Haney, CEO of Outdoor Voices, who graced the stage in sportswear to dish how, at 28, she’s built a new type of workout apparel. Tyler candidly told her audience everything from overcoming rejection from investors to the challenges inherent in establishing a new niche within the sportswear category.
A former intramural sports player, Tyler launched Outdoor Voices from the bunk bed in her college apartment. Fewer than four years later and she has grown the company from an online retailer to four brick and mortar stores (New York, Austin, Dallas), with plans to expand.
Outdoor Voices has been successful in part because of its unique positioning; Tyler saw a need for apparel that didn’t emphasize athletic competition like Nike or Adidas, but that also didn’t focus on fashion before fitness, like Lululemon. With her brand, Tyler sought to provide sportswear free from logos and over the top slogans, with innate wearability from a morning bike ride to an afternoon walk to get ice cream, to a sunset hike. A core tenant of the collection are layers that can be added and removed and for everyday exercise.
With an eye toward growth and many recent learnings to form her perspective, Tyler offered up the following tips:
Commit to your Vision
As Outdoor Voices took shape, Tyler was turned down many times by investors before hearing a yes. Instead of assuming being turned down meant her idea wouldn’t work, she turned her attention to making the best product she could, evaluating criticism and committing to what she wanted to create.
Haney hired her first employee while still in college and now employs more than 60. She believes it is key to make sure each person has their own area of expertise and urged the audience to work with a team who has depth in a specific area and not the width of many.
Create Your Own Playbook
For Tyler, part of running and growing a successful business comes from having confidence to write your own script and change the game to work in your favor. When you’re in control of your own playbook you know your strengths, weaknesses and when to ask for help.
Never waste a crisis
Being a boss is full of difficult moments, and it’s crucial to take the high road when you’re. Haney attributes her own qualities of fairness, being open to insight and feedback, and also regularly asking for support from mentors as key to her success. One of her mentors told her early on to never waste a crisis and she said this advice greatly impacted how she operates her business.
At the end of her session, Tyler invited the audience to participate in the Outdoor Voices campaign, #DoingThings, a great example of a brand inspiring a movement that aligns with the product being sold, but stems from a deeper brand value. In the campaign, participants are encouraged to document and celebrate activity in all forms, from dog walking, stroller-pushing hiking, walking, whatever it is. As a final reminder to all the busy boss babes out there, Tyler reminded us an active mind and body allows you to be the best version of yourself.