Since day one, we've believed that running and sport is more than an activity. It's a world view. A life philosophy. We are one team, many runners; welcoming all paces with encouragement and positivity.
Even though Oiselle Team (aka Oiselle Volée; French for flock) has changed quite a bit over the years, at its core, the mission is the same: create a team of women runners who are passionate about the sport – and want to support each other with encouragement and friendship.
As many of you know, we opened new spots on the Volée last week, and we’re happy to say that we are now thousands of members strong! Everyone here at The Nest is incredibly excited to meet this new crew of women. We welcome you with open arms. We can’t wait to hear your stories in person and meet on runs wherever you fly.
So the back story on Volée… how did the team evolve?
In many ways, the story of Oiselle started long before I founded the company. In 1991, I graduated from Oregon, moved to Seattle, shacked up with my boyfriend (now husband), quit smoking, and started running.
I had very few friends.
I didn’t know how to train.
I hadn’t run a race since high school.
And I had just taken a giant leap into adulthood.
So I joined the weekly run from my favorite running store. Soon after, I had a crew…I was competing for a local club, running track, cross country, and my favorite distance: the fab 5K. I quickly got hooked on #runlove, including the power of team, sisterhood, and the athlete lifestyle. (“Treat your body like a temple, not a tent,” a friend told me).
In tandem with my running, I pushed forward a career in brand strategy and naming, cutting my teeth on new projects and goals. Getting a promotion. Quitting that job and going out on my own, followed by two kids and the evolution of my running.
After getting back into shape post-baby number two, I went shopping for running shorts and came away very disappointed. Too poofy. Too baggy. Poor colors and quality.
On that day, the seed of creating better apparel was planted.
In 2006, I took the plunge, incorporated Oiselle, and began to apply my design skills to creating a small apparel collection, launched in 2007.
My first “team singlet” was a one off. But maybe there’s truth to that “power of the singlet” thing… I ran my first sub-3:00 marathon wearing it, Fall 2007 at the Portland Marathon.
By 2008, our “team” was myself and a few of other running buddies, who competed on the roads and as a USATF cross country team.
By 2011, we knew we wanted team to be core to everything we did. So we hired Kristin Metcalf and she immediately made a difference, tracking the 15 or so women who were wearing our gear. In 2011, we went from 15 to 45 women. Kristin was rolling!
After signing our sister hero Lauren Fleshman in 2013, the demand for the singlet reached a new high. And we weren’t able to invite as many women as we wanted onto the team. It was a difficult period – as we sought to grow the sisterhood, but struggled to make it scale.
The model of exclusivity also had its drawbacks. The benefits package we offered required a lot in return from our athletes, especially in terms of being exclusive to O. The downside of this model became apparent pretty quickly… as the team grew, we found ourselves in the position of tracking and keeping tabs.
In the end, we looked at the situation and decided that wasn’t who we are, or who we wanted to be. We want the athletes who choose to wear our apparel, to truly choose it. And what’s more, we want to grow the team beyond the traditional ambassador model.
In 2013 and early 2014, we put our heads together. We planned. We ideated. We asked ourselves tough questions. And in the end, we came up with a new model. A membership model that resembles what you know today.
In summer of 2015, we opened 1,000 spots, of which all sold in less than three hours. We were thrilled, but we also knew we needed to organize and support this new family of women. Since then, we’ve been doing just that – putting the resources in place, including people, technology, and planning.
We’re thrilled to to have just opened the team again and we welcome all of the new women to run and fly with us.
Some may ask “why?” and we want you to know we’ve given that a lot of thought. After lots of internal discussion, talking with some of you all, and thinking about this team we’re all building, a few ideas rose to the top:
- Power in numbers. As you probably know, part of our story has been about being vocal on issues that are important to us. Athletes’ rights. Women’s rights. And helping women of all ages and paces be “athletes for life.” Growing the Volée will help us have a stronger voice on these issues – and effect real, lasting change.
- Run family everywhere! With only a few hundred women, there were a lot of areas around the country where we didn’t have enough team members to organize meet ups or runs. Growing our base will increase the likelihood of finding a teammate near you.
- All the women. So many women who we’ve met, and like and respect, have expressed interest in joining the Oiselle family. If we have the opportunity to empower an even more diverse group of women through the sisterhood of sport, then we’d like to do that.
- Supporting the dreamers and doers. 25% of all Volée memberships go toward our Emerging Elite Athlete Fund, which helps our Haute Volée athletes train, travel, and compete – as they try to reach the highest level of our sport. This team is crowd funding the lives and dreams of amazing women athletes – so that we can all be super fans of their stories.
Again, welcome to our new team members!
And for those who missed the registration this time around, please know we plan to open spots again in the future. You can pre-register here. When you sign up, your name will go in the queue to receive team updates and hear about the details of our next opening first.
I can’t wait to keep flying with this lovely, passionate, smart, crazy, fun, daring group of women. Head up, wings out!