Thanks to all the women who have expressed an interest in our team! As 2012 comes to a close, we wanted to take the opportunity to share some of the history, as well as how the team works, what we're looking for, and what we see ahead. Please note that as of the end of 2012, we have reached our maximum team size and are not accepting additional athletes until we feel we can properly support them. Still, we appreciate you checking out Oiselle, and we hope you will contact us if you have any questions.
– Kristin Metcalf, Team Manager, [email protected]
Since day one, Oiselle has been inspired by women who toe the line. Who not only love to run, but who also love to get after it at the races…experiencing both the high fives and hard knocks that come with putting it all out there. That, plus the big, beautiful sisterhood. In which our ups and downs are not a solitary sum, but rather a common bond…that keeps us upright and moving forward.
It was a very small leap from these core ideas to the notion of starting a Oiselle Team. Running apparel…plus women who love to run…well y’all know that’s an easy equation. Plus, we needed you. We needed help creating awareness about our brand. True to start-up form, we were rich in mojo but flat out strapped in our spending.
The initial formings of the team started in the Fall of 2009. Initially, it was just us Oiselle peeps doing some local cross country and road races, but soon we were on the lookout for women racers who were drawn to what we were doing, and shared our enthusiasm for the sport. At The Running Event that year, I met Andrija Barker McCurry. First noticed her when she won the trade show’s Indie 5K, but liked her even more when she came to our booth later. I said, “I saw you edged out second place in the 5K, congrats!” and without missing a beat, she replied, “I didn’t just edge her out, I whooped her a**.” Her talent and ballsy attitude was perfect for us – and in addition to becoming our first athlete, she also became Oiselle’s first employee, joining me on a daily basis in our “office” which was a conference room within a defunct print shop.
In early 2010, we sought out more runners, and put structure around the team, including a team manager, contracts, and a modest sponsor plan. Looking back, it’s cool to see that some of our earliest team members from this era, including Jen Bigham, Erin Ward, and Megan Rolland are still with us today – and running faster than ever.
The team grew, but very gradually as we were short on resources to manage it. By Summer 2011, we had about 35 team members.
Elite and Ambassador Team
Elite Team. From the get go, we wanted to provide the highest level of support to women who were chasing the most difficult goals. US Championships, Olympic Trials, Marathon Majors, etc. Because reaching these levels requires so much, in terms of training time, we knew we wanted to be able to offer them a higher level of support. In order to do so, we would have to limit the Elite Team to just a small group. That means we can offer them more apparel, higher discounts, some race coordination, and entry fee reimbursements. Our Elite team members are women who are at or near to the Olympic Trials A or B standards for their respective events.
Kate Grace competes in the 1500m semi final at the 2012 Olympic Trials
But we also felt strongly that we wanted to support all kinds of women runners, with the caveat that they were pursuing competition of some kind. Go fast, take chances. It was the notion of “you don’t know ‘til you try.” And that sometimes pushing through dark, difficult places leads to an amazing new levels of clarity and strength.So we started our Ambassador Team. In essence, women who were challenging themselves with their training, but weren’t pursuing a professional career in running, or trying to qualify for the highest level races. In other words, women like me! Women who have a passion for the sport, who want to run and train hard, but who primarily do it as a mind-healing, body-strengthening, girlfriend-sharing outlet that is just one valuable thread in the fabric of life.
In August of 2011, Kristin Metcalf came on board to manage both growing teams. Her credentials were ideal. 15 years’ coaching experience at Blanchet High School (Seattle) and married to long-standing University of Washington Head Cross Country and Track Coach Greg Metcalf. During the past 1.5 years, “KMet” has grown the team steadily, from 35 members when she joined to 150 team members today, including roughly 25:125 Elite to Ambassadors.
The growth has been a challenge only in that it’s been very difficult not to say yes to everyone. If anything, we only want to spread run love all around the world, man, woman, and child!
What we offer
The Elite Team members receive a combination of free apparel, up to 12 reimbursed entry fees, and a significant discount on our line. The Ambassador Team receives a combination of free apparel and a discount on our line.
- Competitors! We love that casual runners, walkers, yogis, etc, have embraced our line, but since day one our brand has been about the ethos of competing, and its transformative power.
- Brand enthusiasts. Runners who know and wear Oiselle…who are attracted to what we’re doing and our approach.
- Active on blogs and/or social media. More than about building awareness of us, it’s one of the best ways we have to connect with YOU.
- Sisterhood supporters. Women who experience the strength in togetherness vs. the trend toward negativity and creepy sabotage.
- Involved and connected. Active in running, racing and training in their local community.
- That during all competitive events, athletes wear our singlet and gear.
- That they positively engage in Oiselle – and running – community.
- That they keep us in the loop as to their race schedules so we can continue to promote the team and its activity.
- Possibly be available for guest blogging or Oiselle events.
- That they not promote other athletic apparel brands via blogs or social media.
The final point is worth some explanation because we recognize that for some runners it’s a big ask. But bottom line, we do ask for this exclusivity because of what we are providing to the athlete. We are offering distinct benefits, including free and discounted product in exchange for your support and endorsement. If you endorse our competitors along side us, it’s confusing and denigrates our offer. Failure to adhere to these requests can result in first, a warning, and second, being asked to resign from the team.Having outlined all this, we respect every runner’s likes and dislikes! If you have a favorite brand that’s not Oiselle, we totally respect that…it’s just that the Oiselle team won’t be the best fit.
Maximum team size
While we wish we could expand it to infinitum, we are faced with the reality that we must limit the size of our team. Budget is only one reason. Athlete support is the biggest. We would rather focus on and support our current team, than expand the team to an unwieldy size.
We have determined we can support 125 Ambassadors and 25 Elites. After accepting roughly 10 athletes each month throughout 2012, we have now reached our maximum team size.
We apologize for the disappointment this may cause new and interested members. We hope you understand that the limitation is there because we want to provide the best, most personal and significant support we can to our athletes.
Team member changes
Life changes. Runners decide to become less active in racing than they have before due to a variety of reasons…job changes, babies, new interests. For that reason, it will always be necessary to change up our team and therefore we will approach (and encourage being approached) by non-active team members each year to see if they’re interested in relinquishing their spot to a more active runner. This will be an ongoing process based on race schedule communications with the Team Manager.
Women who love to run and race inspire everything we do! So thank you for being interested in running for Oiselle, and we hope you will keep in touch with us as we continue to grow.
Head up, wings out!
Oiselle Founder + CEO