When Eleanor Haycock founded Year of Ours in 2016, alongside designer Alejandra Hernandez, she aimed to finally bring high-quality, confidence-driven athleticwear to the modern woman, regardless of body type.
While the activewear market is becoming increasingly crowded, Haycock said “there is still a lot of progress to be made.” The hole in the market was something she was experiencing herself when shopping. As a runner and someone who works out frequently, Haycock told WWD she “could not find leggings in the market that would stay up.”
“I am 5’11 and have a curvier body shape and it seems like everything on the market had a low rise and just wasn’t made for women that had curves,” said Haycock. “I proposed the idea [to start our own brand] to my now partner to make American-made activewear that fits all women.”
While the vision for Year of Ours started as simply a brand that was mostly made in America, inspired by sport and great fit, now, said Haycock, “it’s to grow into a brand that can offer that quality and fit to women in all categories. Having had fit struggles most of my life, it’s important for me and the whole team to offer something that women can feel good in. To go into a dressing room or unpack a package at home, try it on and feel good about themselves. I never understood why so many brands run small. Why can’t we be true to size and have design elements that accentuate your body?”
Importantly, a big differentiating factor and key to Year of Ours’ success is the attention paid to fit and the inclusion of all types of women. The brand’s fit comes from an internal team of six women of different sizes and heights who work together during fitting sessions to pick apart the problems with garment units. To put a piece out, Haycock told WWD they all have to feel good about it.
“The product stands out through design and doesn’t look like other brands before us,” said Haycock. “Alejandra, our designer, is also a stylist, who is always shopping the market. With her knowledge of trends and creative talents, she really has been able to be a nonstop innovator each season. Our attention to detail in fittings, wear-testing fabrics, and production quality control are top priorities. Having our own factory in L.A. gives us a huge advantage and my partner who owns the factory is an expert in construction and fit.”
Also an avid sports fan, Haycock began building a sense of team spirit into the brand early on as the mood and feeling of camaraderie. It’s the feeling of joining together for a cause or solution that is shared by both the Year of Ours team and its consumers.
The inspiration, Haycock said, is “that feeling being on a sports team or rooting for a team and the feeling you have on the first day of the season. That mood, we got this, the confidence we are going to win and the rally with other fans or teammates. It reminds me of the first Sunday of the year of football, putting on your jersey, meeting up with family and friends to watch a game and thinking anything is possible this season.”
The feeling, she said, runs deep on the Year of Ours team, which has experienced ups and downs but continues to share a “let’s go!” attitude and support each other in personal growth while moving toward the same goal.
Team spirit is shared throughout the year at community events which Haycock described as incredibly formative and overall positive experiences for both the company and consumers. These events are designed to engage, build relationships and offer the opportunity to do something active. A key part of these events lies in the brand’s ambassador program, which consists of 12 female trainers located around the U.S. who share the brand with followers. The events now have a cult-like following and take place nationwide.
“Our marketing events and community-facing activations are different from anyone else in our market,” said Haycock. “This past year we did a Spring Break weekend in Miami, a monthly tennis club in L.A. and a scavenger hunt this fall.”
As a small business owner, Haycock says she takes many learnings from her previous career in sales, including learning not to stop and ride the waves of ups and downs. “Hearing ‘no’ is like a drug to me to push harder, grow and finally get that ‘yes’ or move to the next step. I think it’s so important for founders and people that start a business to have that type of grit to be successful while keeping integrity. No matter the stage of your business there is always going to be a ‘no’, and you have to be the one to regroup and lead the team through it.”
When it comes to growth, Haycock told WWD Year of Ours has not taken an outside finding, which she believes lets the company slow down and perfect things before moving on to the next project. While currently the brand is focused on introducing new lines of products on a yearly basis before jumping too quickly into the next, the long-term goal is to grow into more categories. The year 2023 will have a focus on swim for the brand with a main launch coming in late March.
“Our goal is to provide that fit and quality we built in active to be trusted in the swim category,” said Haycock. “We know this will take some time to build trust and we’re excited for the challenge.”
Currently, Year of Ours business is 80 percent wholesale but will be highly focused on its direct-to-consumer business to fuel category growth. This year the brand will also introduce product collaborations.
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