In the call to write a company’s annual recap, is also a call to remain perfectly centered, unimpeachably rational, and – often for women – to always be positive and pleasant, just like the commercial world likes us best.
But you know that’s a call we don’t always pick up! And we’re pretty far down this path of keeping it real – just like the sport of running taught us to do.
Truth be told, 2017 changed what it meant to be a women-led company.
Somehow, the top things we loved about running, like the niceties of daily exercise and hanging out with friends, became radically new and turbo charged. We sprouted jet packs and capes. We filled theaters with wonder women, and flooded streets with marching feet and rising arms. We spoke out and we woman-ed up.
Some people asked if this was our place. “Stick to sports, stick to clothing, stay in your lane, don’t weigh in…” they said in the comments. But it was too late. Our hearts were already on our #flystyle sleeves.
Yes, 2017 was different.
But just like every year for a growing business, it was a mix of wins and losses. We had highs… like hosting our first road race in Seattle (Tenacious10), launching innovative new fabrics and styles (hello Flyout), and cheering on athletes in Boston, Sacramento, Chicago, New York, and Richmond. Our online community and business continued to grow in the double digits. And we launched the Podium Project, plus a sports bra donation program for middle school girls, and celebrated traditions in women’s running (sub-4:30 milers, we're tracking you!)
And of course there were lows. The retail environment continued to be challenging, brick and mortar chains closed, and social media platforms made it harder for businesses like Oiselle to be seen (even by our own followers). We saw changes in staffing too – but also brought on new women with fresh energy and viewpoints. Lesko and I started to see change as an opportunity, even as that change felled her with a six month ankle injury.
2017 was also the same in some good ways.
Oiselle’s direction remains true. We love designing beautiful, hard working, technical product. We love growing a team of badass women. And we believe in the sport at every level. We’re honored we got to do that in 2017, but look forward to doing even more in 2018, and as we stride toward Tokyo 2020!
Every year -- any year -- is only made possible by our believers. Our friends, family, customers, teammates, allies, supporters, the people who know that in life, and this sport we love, there is no secret, we just keep going. I can't over express my gratitude. I hope to cross paths with you early in 2018.
Until then...Head up, wings out!