Behind The Brand...Ilu Fitwear
As a small brand ourselves we feel it more important than ever to support other independent brands and to show togetherness during challenging times.
We have hand-picked some of our favourite independent brands and have spent some time with their founders to understand what motivates and drives their brand, and to tell you a little more about their story in our new 'Behind The Brand' feature.
We met Mary, Founder of Ilu Fitwear to tell us a little more about her fab brand.
How has the Coronavirus outbreak affected your business? What have you had to change to adapt?
It’s been mixed! Both in terms of sales and also in terms of back office.
Negatives: all our Spring/Summer events and exhibitions have been cancelled, which are normally great both for building community and for sales. Photoshoots both informal and formal have had to be postponed; and the post production on one of our highest profile shoots has taken exceptionally long because the photographer caught the virus and was extremely unwell for several weeks. All our stockists are closed and so no sales from them.
Positives: our online sales have grown, and we have really focussed on building our online/social community, led by our ambassadors. It’s been really rewarding and enjoyable to get to know our tribe better and share tales of positivity and also empathise with the challenges of lockdown. Our social following has definitely grown through this strange lockdown period. I’ve also personally been more active on our social feed and especially our Insta stories, which I think (!) our community have appreciated.
Adapting to COVID19 life: we are a small team and most of us work remotely, so not so many changes there. But we have adapted our pick/pack and warehouse procedures, to keep the team safe. We have consolidated pick/packing, posting packages every second, rather than every day, and so we have suspended our UK express delivery service for now. We are offering free UK standard shipping (again for now) and extended our returns period.
What was your inspiration behind your brand & how did it begin?
It was fairly simple: I couldn’t find activewear I liked! I had qualified as a PT and loved (I still do) fitness and was looking for opportunities in the health and wellness sector. I wanted activewear that was feminine, flattering and functional/practical- bright, but tasteful styles that made me feel good and look good, but that also worked for workouts and yoga, that washed well and weren’t at silly price points.
I started with a business partner. Oh how green and naive we were! Trying to find fabrics, factories and samplists. Working out how to use social media. We then parted ways and I took over the brand. I have learnt so much since then. :)
Where did you get the inspiration for your products/designs from?
It’s a mix. We follow fashion trends for colours and styles. We also follow fitness trends to see what our products are likely going to be used for. We visit our factories and talk to them about the latest technical developments. And of course we listen to our customers.
What are your favourite items or design from your collection?
It varies depending on my mood and the season…
Our Dream Spin Leggings have to be high on my list- almost out of stock but still an all time favourite.
Right now with our sunny lockdown weather I’m loving our Sunrise Capris and our Mindful Vest in pink; also our Steffi Leggings and Easy Layer Vest.
Which items are getting all the love from your customers?
Our Motivate Me Leggings + crop, our Oversized Dance sweat and the Steffi Leggings and Easy Layer Vest (which can be bought as a set )
What is your fave yoga asana - what does it help with or represent in your body?
I’ve actually got two.
Good old Down Dog is one- love the stretch it gives my shoulders and calves.
And Dancer’s Pose- so empowering and makes me feel beautiful :)
Where are your fave places to workout or ideal wellness location?
I actually love working out at home on my terrace in the evening- it faces west and is super sunny.
And my wellness location: with YogaFit in Ibiza. I know them from working there. I just love what they have created and the light in Ibiza is spectacular.
What tips do you have for a successful mindset when it comes to health?
It sounds cliche but I think it all starts with gratitude. Then finding respect for yourself. And realising how different you feel when you treat your body and mind with respect. Eating well and exercising well makes you feel so much better.
What are you most proud about in terms of your brand?
I’m really proud of our products. They are amongst the best you can find, genuinely. They would stand their ground - and more against any of the big (and often much more expensive) brands. That we’ve been able to create and produce this level of product on a very limited budget, in an industry which demands money and volume- that’s what I’m most proud of, I think.
What does the future hold for your company/brand?
Ah...well we have a very exciting collaboration coming up… and then we will see where that takes us!
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Without being industry specific, follow your dreams (but stay grounded), and don’t be afraid to ask for help! (I am not good enough myself at asking for help!)
Ilu Fitwear are offering a discount on their products using the code: WILLOW20 get a discount, this is valid until the end of June.
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