And So She Goes
And So She Goes

Episode 32 · 10 months ago

32. Renee Hanson, CEO and Founder, Vertical Athletics


Renee Hanson grew up tall. After serving in the Army, she decided to start a clothing line for kids who need long in-seams, just like she did. Fast forward 10 years later, and she is now one (if not the only) female-owned brand with official on-field rights with the MLB for her products. Manufacturing in the USA, Renee makes non-stick athletic headbands, and as of recently, face masks and neck gaiters. In this episode, Renee tells an awesome story about Phillies player Bryce Harper, the importance of pivoting as an entrepreneur, and what she's learned along the way.

Conversations with real women who makesports happen, this is, and so she goes. Here's your host, Amanda Borgeous, Hello, welcome in I'm glad you're hereif you're new to the show. This is a place for showcasing amazing women inthe sports industry. I want you to learn from their successes. Theirlearning moments their life advice, and they also give some tips and tricks tobeing your best self. Well, navigating this crazy world of sports. That beingsaid, my guess this week will give you all of the above and more. She is aformer army veteran who grew up tall, so that gave her the idea to start aclothing line for tall kids while fast forward ten plus years. She is now afemale owned brand with official on field rights with the MLB, and she verymight be the only female brand in that camp. In this episode she tells thestory of how she jumped into entrepreneurship haw. She pivoted froman extra long clothing line to headbands that don't slip tomanufacturing, face masks andgators during the pandemic. Renee tells thestory of what happened when Phillys player Brace Harper wore one of herheadbands in a game and spoiler alert business skyrocketed. We also talkabout the importance of pivoting in business and also in life withoutfurther ado. Here is my conversation with founder and CEO of verticalathletics and banny bands: Renee Hanson, hello, Renee. How are you I'm Great Amanda thanks for asking? Howare you I'm good? Thank you. Thank you so much for taking the time to come onthe show. I'm really excited to talk to you. There's been a lot going on inyour world and in Your Business, and I'm really excited for you to get toshare your story and get to talk about some things. You've been up to lately.So, let's jump right in I like to start Rene by rowinding a bit. I want to goback to the beginning, so where did you grow up and how did you fall in lovewith sports? I grew up in southeast Michigan andI've played sports. My whole life. We actually grew up on the Saint Clar River. The the firstplace that that we lived and it has a pretty strong current, so my parentswere really nervous that one of us would fall in the water er. So we werein swimming lessons like immediately. I don't remember, learning how to swim.It is as natural as walking to me so that kind of started me playingsports, and you know I played sports. You know all school growing up, played threesports in high school and then actually went on to play volleyball for a yearin college, and then, after that I joined the militaryand I played on army volleyball team for every year, Hewasen so for five years.So itwas pretty great. That's awesome! Well, thank you for your service. Bythe way, can you tell us where and when you served yeah, I served in the armyfrom Om April of two thousand and one until I was on active duty until June of twothousand and six and then I stayed in the reserves for another year and ahalf while I was going to fashion school at the same time. That's that's.An interesting fashionithev wasn't expecting that yeah at what point didyou know that you wanted to pursue entrepreneurship and start your owncompany, so my dad owned a boat business in Michigan growing up, so Idefinitely grew up in an entrepreneural family. He sold fishand sky boats. He just likesmall. know, like seventeen t, twenty six foot boats Um,you know that's kind of a thing in Michigan. So but you know I grew up pulling weeds inthe yard and and sweeping the show vroom floor and detailing vote. So Idefinitely like grew up understanding what it meant to be an entrepreneur andbe in an entreprenourial family. It's funny because my sisters were Hanthe opposite direction. I didn't want anything to do with TenaNotrepreneur and after you know, actually, while I was in the military,I just realized. You know I thought that I was going to work for thegovernment after I got off act of duty. I thought I would be you know, do do some governmentcontract work or I was in the intelligence community. I thought and Imight join the FA or even potentially CIA, but you know once once I was in anddoing the job that I was doing and in the army had just realized that mypassion was actually sports and fashion, and I wanted to have my own company andlife's way too short to not do what you love. I mean I joined right before nineeleven, like none of us, had any idea what the world was going to change into,and so it was, you know it was just something. I think I think a lot ofpeople in the military realize that if you that you know that life is short, soyou know just, I think it's super important to figure out what it is.That makes you happy and do that and you know so that's what I did. I knew Iwanted to start my own business and I'm tall, so I could never find clothes that werereally long enough for me growing up like Al You knowall, the pants werejust a little too short. Your sleeps are a little too short. I think a lotof well pretty much all tall women canreblate to that, but I think a lot of athletes can't because it's all had atall athletes out there too. So I decided that the best fit, I think, would be ana tallsized athletic apparel company, but I didn't know anything about how todo that kind of business, and so that is where a fashionate school came in. Iwent to the Fashion Institute of design, AFD merchanhis scene in Los Angeles anddid their one year professional program for Apparel Manufacturing Managementwhich for people who already have a degree, it's just a it's just a quickone year program, I'm teaching MOU the INS and Houte of of like a management of ofmanufacturing. So it kind of gives you a little bit of everything you need,which to me was what I needd O distruct the company I neeed to have some basicknowledge of everything. You know everything it takes to startthe company and then I would just hire an outsource. The right people, who arethe the experts in those Areaas, like the pattern makers and you know the cutand sow- and I outforce all of that, but I started aclothing mine for tall people and it's I was all athletic apparel. So how didit then become what it is now? Because you don't dothat anymore? I don't well I sort of do, but you knowwith every business you pit it and pivot and pivot, because so fewbusinesses that start with one idea is actually what they turn into. I meanmost businessless fail in the first five years, like I think the statisticsare like insane. I think it', something like what eighty percent of businessesfal in the first five years. So I think, if you don't pave hit,that's what's going to happen, and so I started with the tall size death that Icomparel in the spring of two thousand and eight another massive shift comingin August when the markets crashed and the economy tanked, so that e first, Iknow awesome time. Yon ow start a... It really was, but, but youknow I joined up- I doin the Armi right before nine eleven, like I knew I'dfigure it out. So I that year you know E. I had. I hadactually invested in o lot of inventory, to sell on lhehiodrectic consumer andat Papa Events. So that's what I started doing and then,in the second January of two thousand and nine I started going to Junorvolleyball tournaments. So this is right around the time where Bollypaul, where sport court was invented. I don'tknow if you're familiar wit, sportcort, but it's it's the court that they canlay out in a convention center to turn a Convention Center into basketballcourts, TA, vollyball courts or it's like you know, it's a snapdown flooringso that you can put a whole bunch of courts and under one roof. Because,previous to that, you know, when you had a big tournament, they would bespread out over, like fifteen different locations in a city at different highschool gyms and community centers, and things like that that had courts. But this was right after sport, court wascreated. So, all of a sudden now you have big voleball tournaments under oneroof at a convention center and then tased the tournament taractor startedbringing in outside vendors. So that's what I did to get the business off theground as I went around to all these volleball tournaments that were at bigconvention centers, and you know it was new I as a novelty. So so we did reallywell. You know I mean that's a great place to find tall athletes and I madeextra Hong Yoga Pants, like my so Itas, actually mentan women's the first twoyears, I'm whing I promptly drop the men line and stuck with women's and sa you know it's making yoga pantsat had like thirty, four and thirty seven inch and seems, and then I made like sport likesweatwaking shirts, that had that were Actra long and the seeves andhe. It wasreally specific so that you know so many so many clothing, France back then,if they were quote tall, it was thiy just added exter inches at the bottomof the pattern, so it still didn't fit your knees in the elbows in the rightspace. So we really focused off making sure we had a good fitting product and then just you know, started goingto these pop up shops to find our customers that needed them. It's sointeresting to me that creating clothing for tall people is like aspecial thing like to me that should exist. There are so many people thatare considered tall, so it's I mean it's great for you because that's howyour business was born, but it's just so funny to me to hear that that didn'texist before so. Basically, your this is a fun part that you left out. I readthis on your website, you're, going to these volleyball tournaments and youraurveing to them around the country, which I think is amazing. ITD soundslike such a blast tome, but to go from our being around the US to only a fewyears later becoming the official head band licensy of the Major LeagueBaseball of major LEC baseball. I should say: There's a lot that has tohappen in those few years to get that opportunity right. So how did thatopportunity come to be yeah so so, while I was traveling around at all of thesedifferent tournaments, I ended up meeting a woman who became one of myearliest employees who was tied to baseball. So when we were figuring outlike well what's next to like what we grow and she suggested trying to getMajor League baseball height from seme, and she was able to help with that. Wegot the LICENSINGIN for our headband project at the time, so tit'sus, twothousand and twelve gass forward, and so our original headband was a velvetbacked adjustable headpan. So the velvet lining es stuck to your hair sothat it didn't like slide out and it...

...didn't break your hair. A lot up oflike silicone linings that you see an Hadbands, actually break your hair. Sowe used to bell that T was super soft, but it kind of acted like belcrow onyour hair. It sticks and then I put a brust rap on the underside of theheadband so that you can adjust it wow. That is that's genius thanks, but youknow it's like I. You know just like how I mad talicize to apparel. You know, soit's actually around two thousand and twelve that we stopped making theapparel. So so I tlike that was a little bit about shift together betweenthe baseball Lidis ensing en and dropping he a Paral Hine. So so back up at these tournamentsearly on my sister and I had seen some headbands that had a velvet backing andit we thought it was really brilliant. We saw it in two thousand and eight. Sowe she was like. Oh you know, this is just robin and Velvet. I can so these Ilike okay, so we started doing that and it was the perfect fit for thesevolleyball tournaments, because when, when you, when you're a vollybout payeryou're looking up all the time at the ball, every other headband sides offthe back o your head. When you look up so these headbands didn't- and you knowlike the problem I had with the ones that we had seen where I have a reallybig head and they hurt my head, I'm a got headache from home, which is areally you know, it's a preally common problem with headvans O setet or giveyou a headache or they slide off your head. So we had found the solution tomake sure they didn't sigde off your head. But those gave me headache, andone day I was putting on my braw and relehizes toding Ding Dang bross trapas adjustable. Let's put that on the back of the headband, then AITTL fit mybig head all the way down to little girl sized head. So that was whatbecame our first nonflip adjustible headband and we decided to put. We sawyou know sparkle, whos kind, of a trend. Taylor swift was bearing in all thesequence and everything so we put sequins on the headpands hid, turnedinto a phenomenon like it was absolutely huge in two thousand, a D:Nine, ten, eleven and really kind of ind to two thousand and twelve. We did really well at those volleyballtournaments and we got totow a couple retailers we were selling wholesale toa bunch of the other vendors that were Goin Alall these tournaments to so itwas. It was a really successful moment for us until teenage girls decided theylike to lose them and had fans more. That was part of the lessons learned inthis Entpreeashin Journey, but that that's kind of why kickedeverything off and- and that was the transition from realizing that the apparel was abreakeev en business. For us at the time you know, is tough to manufacturelike high quality, long apparel in the United States and still be, you know, still have an audience tosell to you. I mean this as like two like again, two thousand and eight nineten. The economy was really bad, then, and people just weren't spending themoney on the apparel, because you know it's name wo is say it was eighty fivelars for pair yoga pants, and that was a lot to people back then. So we didokay with it. People who bought it absolutely love us, I got more hugsthan you can. Even imagine like people were Ho happy to have pants that werelong enough for them and- and you know like now, its kind of t e whole pointgrowing off, not having pants that fit me, you know, makes you feelselfconscious as a girl. You know, and your pants are too short. You know howhard it is in high school you're trying to fit in and- and the only thing thatmade me feel like I fit in with sports like that was where I felt supercomfortable in my skin was really glad that I was tall this ad vontageous, butit still sucked when you're trying to find a pair of pants that are longenough and don't look stupid and, and... that was Ou, know a lot of themotivation and starting the cloting night in the first place, and that wasa lot of the reward and affirmation than I got out of it. When I startedthe company were those early days of lots of hugs ondthe booth of you know,especially for the girls Arare like six one, a d, Six, two and theyre they'refifteen years old and their mom's, like, Oh, my God, I feel so bad. For mydaughter. She just can't find anything that fits, and so you know so that thatwas really rewarding. But ultimately it was not profitable and you can't run abusiness. That's not prefitable or you're, not business, so the headbandswere had better margins and we were able to sell them to everybody, notjust the tall people, and so that's that's where that shift happened andthen in two thousand and twelve we got the Major League, Baseball, licensingand and then just started to grow in a little bit of a different direction.Since two thousand and twelve, with with the baseball pice Ete, I have somany things to talk about with what Yua, because I'm tall, but I'm notconsidered Super Tom, like almost five eight. So it's not. You know it's tallfor a girl, but it's not past six feet, but I definitely know what it's like tobe in middle school, ind, high school and need specific pants to be able tofit. I'm curious, you know when you go into starting a company, especially as a woman, and you startwith this awesome idea, and your and you're filling this whole and, like yousaid, you're getting all these hugs from people because you're changingtheir lives. It takes a specific sense of self awareness and, obviouslybusiness acumen to be able to say, look we're not doing that anymore. We'regoing to pivot we're going to do something else. That makes more sense.But how did you do that and know that you could be successful, but at thesame time you have to let go your original. You have to like O of youroriginal idea that they gave you those butterflies in the beginning that itseems like it's not easy to do. If', not it's. Definitely not. It was actually a lot easier to let themens clothing line go and when I so when I started when I started thecompany I wanted it. You know I was more focused on the women's. Obviouslyit was an immediate need for myself, but I also always felt that verticalathletics could be a really strong Unisex brand. I mean I was thinkingNike Underarmor, you know like tha, that's that's the world that I wasthinking in, but in that callsize Nitch, and so I knew if I started a companythat was just women's, it would be tough to get men to buy into it later,and so I started with both men and women and which was which was great. I meaneverything unfolded the way it was supposed to. I met some really greatpeople through that that, especially you know. Through the men's Line Han, Iwould not have met if I hadn't had a men line and that you know that justended up getting me contact getting me in contact with other people that havethat have helped a business over the years. So I'm glad that I did that, but Irealize very quickly that men especially won't spend the money on higher quality made in USA apparel forif it's just workout apparel guys just didn't care as much as women.So so I just wasn't, I mean my best. Customers for the men were professionalathletes or coaches because they wanted to look next. Tar and ther were willingto spend more money on the product, but even in Thahat world you know there ere,the sponsorships from the big companies were just too much to overcome, so Idropped the men's clothing. Mie Notes actually endeed up being a relief iwaable to focus on the women's more, but you know I had started making andselling tha headpands. You know within six months of the clothing line and theheadbagants were just taking over, we were just doing really really well ofthem, and so s as kind of crushing as... was to let go of the clothing lineentirely. It was the better business oof. So that's what I did and you knowI had a a few people around me who werehelping to advise me, and you know when you look at the numberson the table. You just have to make this smart decision for the business and that's you know.That's that's honestly, where I think so many entrepreneurial dreams die isthat people aren't willing to let go of their original idea and impivodint ofsomething. That's that's working, so you know, I think I think that's. I think I've always been pretty good atchange and I think that's a really important survival skill and as anentrepreneur and an and that's okay, because you know what the headbandswere really exciting. Also, it's not like. I was piviting into somethingthat I didn't like like it was still really fun. I was still doing the samethings I was going to the volleyball tournaments. I was doing Marathonxbos,you know, does just doany different sporting event, pop up shops and, andthat was fun. I got to meet a ton of people. I got to travel all over thecountry in the motor home and an actually funny story with them.Hoter home I saw I started the company in the spring of two thousand and eight.I met my now husband in June of two thousand and nine, and he was also anentreprener and he said Hey. You should get a motor home and travel around tmycountry to all these events- and I was like, what's a that's a good idea, you wantto come with me. He was like sure I was like okay, let me sleep on it and Iwoke up the next day and my gut just look like: Let's get ambout your homelike I was so excited, and and so that's what we did. I had a'd actually just gotten a an SBA loanand instead of buying fabric with it, I bought a motorhome. So its just you know I was like totallyjust absolutely following my gut. There was.There was no, I mean the logical reason followed I on it's not like. I wasdoing something that was stupid, but it was totally you know. I think I think alot of people still thought I was a little crazy, but that's okay. It's anentrepreneurs to- and you know, had actually just met, Matt my husband twoweeks prior to him, offering that idea up. So it really was a strong leap offaith, and but I just I knew that it was the rightmove and I also kneve that if it didn't work out, it's okay, like I'm bollowingmy dreams and I'm alive, and I get to do that and- and you know again, thatjust kind of goes back into being in the military and going through it now Inever deployed, but I know people who did and thankfully all of m my goodfriends came home from the wars, but you know it just really puts it intoperspective that that were so privileged here that weget to create what it is that we want to do and- and you know yeah it takescourage to do that. But it's it's just. You know tha that I just can't imagineliving any other way like I'm so happy that I jumped into entrepreneurship. Ilove that attitude and I'm right there with you I'd. Rather, I would muchrather do something than regret it and think what if and so, I'm glad that youjumped in wholeheartedly and part of your story that I want to get to,because I think it's so fun and amazing. You go from traveling everywhere inthis RV to selling sequent headbands to then having Phillyes player, BryceHarper, where one of your phillies headbands in a game and obviously youknow everything just skyrockets from there. If anyone wants to grow, that'show you do it. You have a famous athlete Wir one of your products in agame right. We have really lucky with thatand it was. It was really fantastic. I... to tell you like, oh my gosh, so my new sales group had said: Hey lookat what Hartpar was frhanging on is cleaks for opening day and there's s m.You know there's kind of a special story there with Harber and the Phillyphanepic that that you know he bret sidn. This big deal to the phillies forthe next, like twelve or thirteen years, or something like that and people were saying. Oh now, hardburscould do Maskoy and he was like no, I'm not. The philly. FANHATIC has been herelonger than me. He will be her long after me. The philly fanatic, Becaus,your mask guy, and so he did a couple of things like he like just had thisnod to the mascot and so on. His cleats for opening day were the eyballs, thezoom dinni balls of the philly fanatic, and so my one of my salesrops said Hey,you should do that on a headband and I was like Oh thit's, a really good idea,and- and so I did, that we made some- we sell for the Sate Stadium Store. Wefell actually into most stadium stores, and so we I made that, and you were alreadyselling to stadium stores when this happened. t then yeah that actually wasthe bulk of our business over the last few years has been thestadium stores we sell into like most mounby stadium stores, and so so the buyer for the store was likeohoo great ill. You knowill take them and heat through a few in Harvarflocker before the game, onjuly eighteent, and so this is part of the funny story thatmost people don't know. I was at Wanderlust at Squa Valley inCalifornia doing it was Thursday. I was first year I'd ever done like all fourdays and I'm in this like meditation session, where it's like journaling andmeditating all day and, and you know a little journaling and crying likereleasing a whole bunch of crap. So I it's. You know it's west coast time Ibreak for lunch. I had just like worked through all this stuff and I come houtand there's a ploice melt from byer on my phone and I was like o that's weird.Why is why? Is he calling my cell phone? So I listen and he's like? Oh my gosh,did you see what just happened, Harporjust wore this during the gameand as Holmet flew off when he was rounding the corner into second, you know: runing the corner ofe first pace in a second for a gametiming double the whole stadiumisgoing crazy. I need more of these call me back, so I call i Mike I know so.This was like I. This is the last day of their homestand and it was Thursdayand then the following Friday. They were back home for like two consecutivehome stance. It was like it was like twelve or fourteen days in a row thatthey were going to be home, and this is what makes this whole thing so specialis that my factory is now. I have two factories,both in the United States, but at the time I just had the factory in southernCalifornia, and it was because of our US mannufactoring that we were able toturn that one moment into the merchandising item of the year forbaseball, because we could turn products so fast. So we, you know hecalls S, and can I get more product? How fast? Can you get it to me for her?The next homestand, I said sure, and then he ordered Ye Orde fit fifteen hundredheadbands that day and that y an mind you they normally order. One. Fortyfour, I was like wow all right. How does zeroto that and wait spay those numbers one more time. He urdered fifteen hundredheadbands that day for the next boof, like following Friday, delivery andusually they'll order like a hundred and forty four of a style. So I waslike okay and so I'm polling, my factory and they're, like yea noproblem, and then I talk to the factory on Monday, and this is e Thursday Checto my Monday, and he goes hey if the biter gets is another order. We can getmore out by Friday and I was like I... the virus like hey me more, we canget there. He Goes Yep. He me another worder, F, twenty five hundred twentyfive hundred mour. This is three days later mind you so thisis, like fourthosand head bands. We get most of them out for Friday. They solled out onSunday, which you know sunedays they're, usually their biggest game days andthey were sold out, and so it just escalated from there and that crazylong homestay hand. We ended up shipping every single day. Theyauthorized overhight shipeing, we wereshipping at least a thousand a day,and it escalated over the next few weeks to thirty thousand headbands thatwe shipped to the stadium in six weeks and yeah. It was like it was so funbecause, like that's like I've known forever that I have the capacity tomake that happen, but this as the first time that I was really tested, and Iwas able to prove that and and it was so cool because my factor worked theirbutt off like we had, I mean I drove down to Soutirn California. I stayedthere for two weeks and like sat there and packaged product like putheadbandson hangtags at the factory with the workers like getting stuff out, and itwas just it was so fun and so exciting. To have that moment- and you know ourWebsales went went to- we did really well with Websales. That's actuallykind of what funded it all, because selling to the stadium is like nhotsixty. I don't get paid on that for a while, but I had to pay all of mysuppiers prior to sixty days. So, thank God for the website sales that Helpe funk. All of that, but yeahI mean it wouldn't have turned into a moment. If I had said Oh, I can get youmore headfans, an three or four weeks from overseas. You know and- and Ithink that that's just such a testament to American manufacturing is that wehave the ability to catch or a hot market moment like that and and itturned into it, turned into the number one item in retail for baseball, and itwas only in that stadium for half of the Home Games. That year I mean thisWagain Mad July, when this happened and and it also turned into spin offproducts like other brainns- put that design onto other products. So therewas a bobble head. There were plush toys, there were flip flaps. The therewere t shirts like it was crazy how many different products fun out of thatparticular moment and to have been like the catalyst of all of that was just.It was just really cool. It felt, like all. It really felt like a moment ofall of this hard work over ten years is, like you know, it's like. I finally feellike we kind of hit the Jackpot there and it was, and it was it was justexciting and it was you know it was exciting and relieving, and you know wewere still struggling at that time so to have something hit. That was thatbig was just. It was just awesome for us and to think that success came fromyou being open minded and pivoting from your original idea. So I'm sure thatwas extremely rewarding for you as well. On a personal note, just yeah, knowingthat you know this happened, because you were willing to go in a differentdirection. I love that you manufacture here in states. I think that's soimportant and that's really amazing, especially because you can, I'm sure,do things cheaper if you went overseas and there are onother benefits to thatas well. So I applaud you for being American maid. I love that also, it'sextremely rare to be a female owned brand, with official on field rightswith the MLB. What does that mean to you ot of validation? Honestly, I meanwe've again. Ov worked feally hard over the last few years to make high quality product and being made in USA and is also I meanit's quote America's pasttime. I think that that's important and I know...

...most frands- don't make their stuff inthe US and, and there you know, there's a lot of hallenges with making pigs inthe US. To I mean to hit the price point that the consumers are willing topay for product means things aren't as complicated inconstruction. You can't get quite as many details of some of the productsthat we get from overseas, so you know it's. I feel really validated as a productdeveloper, to have games the trust of Major League Baseball, to provide anonfield product and and just to clarify our headbands are not an nonfieldproduct. The players have chosen to wear them under their helmets andthat's that's a personal choice thing. So that's our headbands are not onfield. However, coming into this year season being thatshort in the sixt game season because of pandemic again with American manifacturing, Ihad started making face coverings, gaters and masks in you know, right after right after werealized we were in a pandemic. I realize that's something that I can domy US manufacture. We need mass. Like you know, I had just my differentcontact at Major League baseball being in New York City. I mean my office isin a rural town in Habada and we were really affected, but you know you'relooking at the news and you're like wow. This is crazy, like all of this ishappening in New York, city and other big cities. So so I just startedsending masks to to our customers just for free justsince sampln pass just for them personally to have so. He had somethingbecause since it was hard to get mass at all in March in April- and it turnedout that a lot of have really liked our maskmore than the other mass that were coming across their desk. So, eventhough we didn't even have rights to that product category, I just I justmade them samples and sent them, and we had a couple of teams order for ainternal use which they're allowed to do from from us, and then Major Leaguebaseball approached us in early July once they knew there was going to be aseason and offerd o us on field rights for for the face covers, and the gaitors,which was like so exciting. I mean we were just in areally good position. I mean we had obviously just proved ourselves thatthe year before her being able to deliver really high voluume product anda short amount of time with our US factory and so same thing here and andmy sales team. You know with the support of my sales team. They knewthat we would be able to handle this opportunity from an operationalstandpoint, and so they gave us they gave us on field srights and Itas beenthe biggest investear we've ever had, and it's been really exciting and reallyweird at the same time, because of the product, we're making issomething that nobody wants to wear, but everybody hase to, but that's alsoit's so interesting, I'm sure as a business owner where, when you enteredthis space, you know you were thinking of functionality and also fashion, andyou know, keeping things fun and now, all of a sudden, it's come down tonecessity. So before you were creating things because people wanted them andnow you're creating a product that people need. That must be a reallyinteresting thing for you. Knowing that your products, your ideas,are actually needed. Today, yeah I mean, and it's as a product developer, whichis really kind of what I consider myself as I'm cannot. Obviously, I'm anentrepreneur but product development is my that's my zone of genius. That's mymy favorite part of the business is creating different products, and I'vealways had a function of focus on on performance like I want the thingsthat we make to be...

...something that people want to wear thatthet. You know that they that they're wearing like whether it's a headbandthat doesn't slip and it's injustible. So it won't give you a headache or amask. That's actually breathable and you know Fitwell, and you know I thinkit's just it think it's super important to have stuff that works. Otherwise it's just more novelty junkand that's not who we are so to be able to provide that product during thepandemic has been really it'it's put, meaning behind what we dolike I mean again, like I like, focusing on performance, but but toactually be making something that people really need. That is, you know. ITIT's important I mean wearing a mask,is super important right now. The other thing too is I've, alwaysfocused on textole technology, and so ourheadbands are made with a patented cooling fabric that cools up to thirtydegrees, below temperature or below below skin temperature. When it's wet,it's really great for athletes when you're sweating and your hot it helpsyou not overheat, and you know it's just I just I love them. I have lot ofathletes, hat wear them that love them. So so I've been using that fatertechnology for a while and as soon as this pandemic cat I sommy Gosh likethere has to be something out there that kills covid like who's got it andI just kept searteen, and I kind of I come in a email in my inbox in April,or maybe it was in March. I don't know, but it was from one of the suppliers.I'd worked with in the past and they were now representinino a Swisstechnology, comething called Hiq and they had a new treatment that goes otfo Afric, that is called virol block. And if I were selling this product inGermany, I could tell you that it kills covid as well as a whole bunch of otherthings. That's en on time, Ma, CROBEOL anti fire, Olantac, capterial, antiusedtreatment for fabric and the universe, just absolutely aligned on this,because I was making the cooling fabric now in the United States and had Adamill in North Carolina, and it just so turns out that that same mill also hadhad already been approved and had been using the high q viral block treatment.So it's it's VBLOCK is what we call it in the United States and it's the samestuff that is used globally. But we have limits of what we're allowed tosay per the FDA in the United States. So it is an antimicropial silvertreatment for the fabric that goes on during the dying like finishing processat the mill- and you know again like this year, because ov so many thingsHav hey unfolded like I had a new mill, I was making. You know the coolonfabric in the US, with the HIK treatment on it, and sonow we have this fabric, like all of the fabric, that Ihave now things that are making moving forward. Have this treatment on it andand it sucks that I can't like put that on the packaging and say you know andmake claims and again it's you know the the claims, a Thot it it kills. Itkills germs. Basically that hit the fabric. It's the it's protecting theproduct, not the person. People can still stick their finger in their eyeand get sick if they're wearing the product. But it's something that I reallybelieve will help keep people safer if they're wearing it just from an environmental standpoint,and- and you know it's so that feels like really really good, knowing thatI'm using the best technology out there, whether I can say it or not, I'm justimpressed that the stars keep aligning for you in so many different ways. I'm like what are you? What are youdrinking? What are you eating? Can I have some of that? Like obviously, Iknow that it's not all rainbows in...

...sunshine and butterflies for you,because obviously there are ups and downs being an entrepreneur, but it'sjust it's really nice to hear that so many things so many successes have havefound your way and it's not an accident. You've put a ton of work in and a lotof passion, and I can tell that you're, just agenuine person who actually truly cares about what you're doing, and that meansa lot so before I let you go. I have two as questions for you, one of themyou sort of alluded to this before, but can you just give a piece of advice forsomeone who's, maybe considering entrepreneurship or even someone whoalready has a business, but they want to take it to that next level. Whatdoes it take a lot of grits? It's definitely not for the fate ofheart. I think you have to be really reallyexcited about your idea, because you're going to hit a lot of obstacles and-and if you, if you stick it out and you pivot andyou you follow your gut, but you also getadvice from people who've been there and done that before I mean it's nevergoing to be the same like it's great to have mentors, but theirexperience is never yours, so I think it's important to to have a balance of seeking guidance as well as listeningto your inner compass and and doing what feels right and in those decision moments of how to move forward. You know one of the things that Ididn't do fast enough, which I would change the future. If I weredoing this all over again, is I wouldn't try to do everything myself I've for a long time? I really was nogood at delegating and- and I'm just now finally starting to do that andbuilding a team, and I have a couple full time- employees. So that's probably one of the biggestpieces of advice. I think we would have grown faster and further. If I had open myself up to help- and I thinkthat I think it's really actually important for women- it's hard for usto ask for help like I'm- just really noticed that over the years and I'vebeen a part of a couple f women's business groups that we focus on, that,we focus on being able to ask for help and being able to offer whenever possible and- and I think thatthat's that's a really great piece of adviceto is don't be afraid to ask for HOLP. That is. I really like that. I think, as a female in particular thatthat's extremely important, because I think we feel like we have something toprove and we feel like it's almost a sign of weakness when it's not. Wephysically cannot do everything by ourselves, yeah man and women. It'sjust it's just not possible, but just being an entrepreneur to when you havethis idea, it's hard, I'm sure to give work to someone else, because it's almost like a it's like your babyright. You know, like you, don't want it to leave the nest like you. Don'tyou want to have control over everything, because it was your idea inthe first place, so I love that you gave that advice to just you know, beopen to the help and be willing to. You know: Have a team of people around youto you know fight for you and for that idea, yeah, you can't grow ith, it'sall about you, you have you have to. You, have to expand and and expandinghas been so fun. Because now I have a team of people who you know feels andespecially in this economy, it feels great to be hiring people instead ofletting them go like how awful of that Tha's. So many people have lost theirjobs, and you know it's been great. Now I'm building a team and they love whatwe're doing we have. You know we're excited about putting great product outthere, that's meaningful and useful right now and and so yeah I mean it'slike that- gets to be part of it. When... make it when you expand beyondyourself, you know you et you goetd to share that with other people. They getto contribute and help build this idea and thas product wer having and brands. So I mean all of it. It's rewardingit's hard to delegate it's hard to. Let let it go when it's your baby, but whenyou realize that you can do so much more and and grow beyond yourself onceyou start doing that, like I can't wait like that's my number one goal likeI've, somebody Aske, if Yeu had a hundred thousand dollars like right nowextra. What would you do and it would be I'd, hire more people and I pay formore advertising Li e, that's what I would do. So I think people are superimportant, we're stronger together. Can you leave us with a woman in sports whoinspires you, I'm sorry to put you on the spot, but it's always more fun thatway, and it can be multiple women. If you have a few that you look up to wellaarin Aaron Aaron Andrews is pretty amazing in her fields. I'm superimpressed with with her and what she's done and Jessica Mendoz up being one of thefirst. I think she is the first female to announce the major like baseballgame, Justine Segul. I think I'm saying herlast name right: SS, First Woman, O coach in baseball yeah there's a lot of women out theredoing some pretty bad asthengs, but those are the first ones that came tomind. I love that and it's cool that you mentioned Aarin, because she justlaunched a clothing line as well. So not only is she kicking, but on thesidelines for Fox, but her clothing line hav been I've been following anand that's really awesome so and justine. I had her on the show monthsago actually and she is extremely inspiring just hearing her story but anyway Rene.Thank you. So much for sharing everything with me. Your story isamazing and I'm so glad that you've been able to find success in so manydifferent ways. Thank you for sharing your advice with us and I'm so excitedto see what happens for you in the future and and where you take verticalathletics and how far you go and we'll see, hopefully soon if another athletedecides to pump the brand soon and get them be crentbeexpanding intomore sports sooner than later as well. Oh, that's great! Can You cheaseanything for us? Is there anything we can look forward to or is it all SeecetReno? Nothing! That's far enough along termreally announced, but but yes, we were looking at other other leagues to belicense Plat, so pretty SII, that's awesome! Go for it there. The Sky isthe limit that is so exciting. I'm super pumped to to keep watching you,you grow and see what o you accomplish in the future. So thank you so much forjoining me. Rene. Thank you. So much for happing me on and giving me theopportunity to share our story. Appreciate that I can't even pick a favorite story fromRene if I had to- and you don't have to either, but I do hope that you learndsomething from her journey. Brene is awesome and she is also generous enoughto provide a discount code for my listeners. So during this holidayseason, please shop, small and you can support renee by going to verticalathleticscom, to purchase, face coverings and head bands and she sellsthem for every single MLB team. As we talked about, and also as renamementioned, everything is made in the USA, so you can use discount code. Shegoes ten that she goes in all caps. Ten for ten percent off your order throughDecember fifteent, that's vertical athleticscom and the discount code is.She goes ten in all caps. This is the perfect opportunity to support a femaleowned and veteran owned small business, happy holidays, and thanks forlistening.

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