Employees: 2 (plus contractors)
Industry: Consumer & Lifestyle
Founder Micki Krimmel's rapidly growing company is creating athleticwear to fit every body.
In the past, Krimmel was quick to find fault with her body. "I had a historically rocky relationship with it," she explains. "I spent a lot of time dieting and exercising constantly, always with the goal of losing weight. Then I started playing roller derby and the experience changed me in a super profound way."
Burdened by cultural expectations as well as fitness and diet marketing, Krimmel found roller derby very freeing. "I didn't grow up an athlete, so this was the first time I began to think of myself as one," she says. "It transformed my idea of what my relationship with my body and fitness could be. I was really empowered, and I built confidence and ability as opposed to just constantly trying to lose weight."
When she realized that she was no longer wasting mental energy and time trying to fit her body into a shape it would never achieve, she decided to try to share that experience with others. "I wanted to create a business that would change how fitness is marketed to women and highlight the positive aspects of movement practice," Krimmel explains. "As I started down that road, it became clear that it needed to be about accessibility. Really, all you need to participate in fitness is a body. It doesn't need to look a certain way or be a certain weight."
While researching the women's activewear market at the time, Krimmel discovered that no one else was making high-quality plus size options. She began developing a few products and decided to test them out with a Kickstarter campaign targeted to the roller derby community in 2015.
"It's a very inclusive, queer-friendly, super-supportive feminist community," Krimmel says. "Their values are the values that I wanted to espouse as a brand, and I knew they would support me." She continued to focus on the roller derby market for the next two years before branching out in 2017.
"Now, we're actively expanding into new markets," Krimmel adds. "Our goal is really to be the premium plus-size activewear brand in a very crowded space."
Superfit Hero's collections of leggings, shorts, sports bras, tanks, muscle tees, and crop tees are all ethically made in Los Angeles and popular with athletes ranging from size XS to size 5XL.
"We're all about fit and quality specifically for plus size athletes," Krimmel says. "Unlike most companies, we don't use a size four or size six fit model and then shrink or grow a pattern up and down. Because we have such a wide range of sizes, we use size large, 2X, and 5X fit models and create two to three different patterns for each style."
Superfit Hero works with athletes to test the entire size range of each style in the real world. "They take them and go work out before giving us feedback," Krimmel continues. "That way, we can make sure what we're putting out is up to par."
Her approach is definitely working. Krimmel notes that plus size is the fastest growing sector in fashion in general, and Superfit Hero has enjoyed 100 percent growth nearly every year since its inception.
Challenges: Last year was the first year Superfit Hero didn't hit Krimmel's 100 percent growth target. Instead, they grew about 50 percent. Krimmel credits the slowdown to the challenge of getting floor space at quality Los Angeles-area factories.
"We work with three factories here in L.A., and because we're small, we have to wait until they are available for us," Krimmel explains. "This means we haven't had the ability to get on a reliable schedule for new releases. We actually didn't release anything new the second half of the year."
Opportunities: To address the aforementioned challenge, Krimmel is exploring getting Superfit Hero its own space (everyone currently works remotely), buying a few sewing machines, and hiring a few sewers so the company can exercise greater control over its production schedule.
"We have a small but very passionate community of customers," she adds. "If we put new stuff out, they will buy it." With her own in-house team, the company can "put stuff out more frequently and be more responsive to the community. That's the direction we're heading this year."
Once the production bottleneck is relieved, Krimmel believes she'll be back to hitting her growth target. "We have three collections in production right now and some really exciting stuff coming out this year like never before seen fabrics that I'm really excited about," she says. "We also have built a certain level of trust and commitment to the plus size community that is a key differentiator for us as the market becomes more crowded."
Needs: If Superfit Hero makes the shift to in-house production, Krimmel says staffing is going to become her biggest need. "There are certain things we don't need right now as a remote business that we will need if we're in our own space," she adds. "Money is easy, but finding the right people is more difficult."