Oiselle is a love story.
Yes, a love of runners and running.
But back a little further, it's a woman turning to her husband with one of those, "okay honey, you might think I'm crazy but I have this idea..." moments to which his reply was a casual, "yeah, why not?" (That was before I leveraged our home and borrowed $15K from his parents...)
Fast forward two years. Oiselle was off the ground, but so very small. No money. No marketing dollars. No staff. Wait, one staff...my friend Andrija who had moved out from Boise to help me get things rolling for 9 months, working for less than is reasonable in Seattle. All we had, really, was a love of the sport and a track record in brand building. Bottom line, if we were going to get noticed, we'd have to get creative...really creative.
And so one day, as I was walking back to the office, I started thinking about those crazy runners who get married during a marathon. They usually showed up on the evening news...[cue the TV anchorwoman voice] "Well John, talk about love on the run, this couple is so into running they decided to say 'I do' at mile 22 of the NYC Marathon!" [cue the TV anchorman voice] "Haha, wow Lisa, that really gives new meaning to runaway bride!"
Of course, the first step in analyzing any "new idea" is to Google it. Because, surely someone's done it before. A few searches led me to the conclusion that, nope, there was no athletic bridal dress on the market." Boom. Two days later I had a sketch and pitched it to Runner's World. In my mind I thought, if RW picks it up, it will be worth making, but if not - no. I know that might sound opportunistic, but an entrepreneur lives life very close to the bone, and can only invest in the things likely to bring a return.
The funny part was that Runner's World replied that they liked it right away, and could I - you know - send them pictures of the dress by next week? That led to a Project Runway scramble where we designed, sewed, modeled and photographed the dress in less than 10 days. It hit the newsstands a couple months later and, happily, put a very small women's running company on the map.
Later that Fall, we got contacted by a couple that actually HAD married in the NYC Marathon. She was interested in buying the dress, but because it was such a one-of-a-kind creation, and cost a lot, we decided the easiest thing was just to loan it to her for the next NYCM in which she and her husband were going to renew their vows after 10 years. So off the dress went, and then a month later, back it came. The sisterhood of the traveling wedding dress.
After that, the dress took on a life of its own, also going out to other friends and teammates. Sarah Chan wore it in Eugene in 2013 prior to her real wedding. Rose Wetzel, soon to be come Sinnett, wore it in Seattle.
In 2014, we decided it was time to renew our vows to the Runaway Bride dress! This time, we'd add a bridesmaid's dress and a Groom's Tuxedo Shirt. It would be the first ever athletic bridal collection! Runner's World was nice enough to cover us again last Spring, including the real life wedding of Erica Kinser. Erica was a saint through the whole thing as we had a classic, down to the wire last minute shipping of the dress straight to California from our factory.
So here we are. It's 2015 and we're still in love. We love runners, we love apparel, and we love the community that embraces them both. We hope this new, more affordable runaway bride collection, makes it out to some run-loving newlyweds this year. If you do, please tag pics #flystyle! Myself, I can't wait to see our very own Jacquelyn Komen sporting the Runaway Bride Dress prior to her wedding this September.
Engagement photos at our XC stomping grounds in Lincoln Park. (photo: Jordan Quinn)
And then she got hitched! JJ and her Runaway Bridesmaids.
Weddings come and go, but #runlove is forever.