An unlikely story — but true.
Like many in the sport, running found me rather than the other way around. The first time it found me, I was in high school and had just been cut from the volleyball team (with just cause I must admit). With my dreams of being the next Gabrielle Reece snuffed out, I turned to cross country. Come one, come all, no hand eye coordination required.
The second time it found me, I was in college at Oregon. I had just returned from studying in France where I was smart enough to meet my future husband, but dumb enough to pick up 15 pounds and a half-a-pack-a-day smoke habit (while it may be true that French women do not get fat, I can attest for the fact that white girls from California do). Fortunately, running showed its forgiving nature once again, and after a year of running the hills around Eugene, I moved to Seattle and got hooked on the sport for good.
As it turns out, my early years of inactivity would preserve me for an unexpectedly successful racing career. After joining Club Northwest in 1992, I made our cross country nationals team on seven occasions, including our Club title in 1996, and competed in everything from the 5K (17:06), to the half marathon (1:22:30) to the marathon (2:59).
In hindsight, it would be untrue to say that I haven’t cared deeply about running fast and even winning. But for me, and the small family that makes up Oiselle, the sport has always been about something more. At various times it’s our therapy, escape, religion, and girl time. But perhaps simply enough, it’s been our sense of freedom. And thus the name Oiselle (pronounced wa-zell). A French word for bird, it alludes to that feeling of weightlessness that most runners know and love. That sense of flight – when the legs go fast and the heart goes free.
So why a new running apparel company?
Our first year in the market was 2007. However, the idea for Oiselle started several years earlier. After two kids and six years of “just running,” I was ready to train and race again. But what I thought would be a quick trip to the running store to buy new shorts ended in disappointment. Too poofy, too baggy, too high-waisted, and all wrong in the color department.
Over time – and many a long run – that disappointment became an idea. Not only about new women’s running apparel, but also about a new kind of company. One that would draw from my ten years’ experience of branding and marketing for both startups and Fortune 500 companies, and cross-pollinate with the ideas and skills of a select group of partners. So in the end, the question became not so much why a new running apparel company, but why not?
—Sally Bergesen, Founder + CEO