Tell us a bit about yourself. Why did you start Tomboy Exchange?
A few years ago I was training for my fourth triathalon, my first olympic distance one, and had to quit training due to a medical issue with my eye. I gained some weight, went shopping for new clothes and was astonished by my choices - pastels, frills, clothes for 20 year olds. I’ve always had to search for clothing that I feel comfortable in, clothes that express who I am. I’ve never been comfortable in traditionally feminine clothes and I don’t want to dress like a man - I’m more in the middle range - it’s all about comfort but with some fun style. And I don’t want to have to wear all knits!
My girlfriend Naomi was with me as I ranted through store after store, mocking the choices and lamenting the way things fit. She’s a sports massage therapist and has a large client base of professional women, most of whom have expressed the same frustration. So, being the go getter that she is, Naomi started doing some research and kept at me to think about starting a clothing line together. I’d laugh and say what do we know about a clothing line. She’d show up with a book and make me read a chapter. She’d identify what we needed to take the next step and off we went. Then on to the next chapter. And so on.
How would you describe your personal style?
Ha! I like stripes. And red.
Let’s face it, I’m no fashion maven but clothes are an expression of who you are. When you go out into the world what you are wearing says so much about who you are. Put me in foundation and a low cut shirt showing cleavage and I’m going to become a wallflower, uncomfortable and miserable. Put me in a button down collared shirt that is unique, with fun bits, over a nice fitting pair of jeans and really fabulous boots - I’m confident and engaging because I’m comfortable in my own skin. That’s me - but the idea grew as I started looking around at women who are in my age range. As we get older I think there are very few women who can actually pull off the same look that they rocked as younger women. They still want to look good but comfort and fit are key now. There isn’t a clothing line that is focused solely on that demographic in the same way that we are.
Do you have to be a Tomboy to be interested in Tomboy Exchange?
I think the notion of what a tomboy is is rather fascinating. To me being a tomboy is about attitude. We wrote some stuff up about messaging that describes our woman in terms of our branded and curated items. But I think Tomboy Exchange is about democratizing fashion and paying attention to a demographic that has been ignored by the fashion industry. Our idea is to create a boutique shopping experience for a niche market but on a national level we are talking about a lot of customers. And then there is the world...
Can you tell us about some of the things we will be seeing Tomboy Exchange come out with this year?
Our goal is for our clothing to be unique not only in design, but in the way it fits a woman’s body and in the quality of our goods. Why just make a classic white shirt when you can add some awesome nuggets to the collar or the cuffs? To me, that’s sexy. Our line will provide clothes for work and for play - in unique styles that set us apart from the rest of the crowd. Our next branded item is the half-zip sweatshirt and we’ll probably do a full zip as well. Nice french ribbed cotton with fun stripes around the sleeves, kind of a vintage look for the fall. And we intend to load up our store with amazing shoes and boots from our favorite designers, we’ve got jewelry, hats and other accessories that you can mix and match with our clothes to create your own style.
What is your vision for the business?
We think we have a great idea and we think there are women out there to support this kind of business. But we need to prove that there is and grow our business according to the need. My intent is to do so thoughtfully and to make smart decisions that are about listening to our customer and responding to market trends as they arise.
What can women do who are interested in being in the loop on all things Tomboy Exchange?
Engage in conversation on Facebook about what you are interested in seeing Tomboy make. We want to hear from you! And tell your friends!