Company name: JWalking Designs
Founded when: 2012
CEO and co-founder Alison O'Brien shared the story behind JWalking Designs, a unique fitness clothing company that sells skirts and kilts.
This photo of a JWalking Designs Kilted Warrior climbing a lone rope amidst the landscape is representative of our business and especially our name. Paraphrased, the definition of jaywalking is to go against the grain and forge your own path, and that's what we aim to do by creating unique, eco-friendly, funky and functional fitness fashions.
Our goal is to reach people who want to get out and get active, specifically multi-taskers who want to get one piece of clothing that works well in many situations, fitness enthusiasts who want to stand out in a crowd, and real-sized, real people who are woefully under-represented in an active apparel marketplace geared otherwise. No matter what stage you're at in your fitness journey, we want to break down the barriers to getting out and getting active, all while feeling great and looking good.
My inspiration for the business came in 2006, when I decided to train for my first marathon to raise money and awareness for the cancer my friend was bravely battling. I found a love for racing, but I disliked the running bottoms that were on the market. When I couldn't find active apparel that fit my needs, I decided to make my own.
Before I co-founded JWalking Designs, I produced television documentaries and long-format news stories. In 2010, I worked on the CNBC Original, "Trash Inc: The Secret Life of Garbage," which featured Foss Manufacturing, a New Hampshire based company that turned plastic water bottles into fibers for fabric. Foss’ manager said that while business was busy, too few plastic bottles were recycled and too many ended up in landfills and in our waters. That experience came to mind when searching for a comfortable and conscientious fabric to launch the line.
I run the business while producing television shows on a per-project basis, but building brand awareness in a growth market is a full-time job in and of itself. When people see our unique running and walking kilts and skirts in-person, they are attracted to the design and amazed by our eco-friendly fabric, but the challenge is translating that awe online. It is a slower-go than I'd like, but it is moving in the right direction!