Jasmine Tookes and Josephine Skriver have teamed up on their own activewear brand.
The model besties and former Victoria’s Secret Angels are the founders of Joja, an Instagram platform they launched in 2016 as a way to share wellness and fashion tips while fostering a sense of community. Starting Wednesday, the duo is expanding and entering the fashion entrepreneurship arena with Joja’s e-commerce shop open for business, offering a selection of workout apparel.
The friends, who met backstage during fashion week more than 12 years ago — and bonded over their shared interests in exercise, wellness and weight lifting — said launching their own brand was a natural progression.
“Josephine and I have also worn so many activewear brands over the last 10 years and we’ve shopped so many activewear brands and always found that we wanted to change one little thing,” Tookes told WWD in an exclusive interview. “Like, if this stitching was done a different way, or if the shape of the pants were a different way, it would be much more flattering on everyone’s body. We really have kept tons of clothes over the years and really studied them and looked at them and said, OK, what would we do differently? And what would we do that’s new to the marketplace? So [the whole collection] just came very natural and organic.”
Skriver added that it was “super interesting being on the other side of things. When we have to do our [modeling] campaigns, we usually just show up and there’s a whole crew and set. But all of a sudden, having to be the producer, figuring out every moving part and remembering everything, I have such a respect for everyone I work with. There’s so much that goes behind the scenes that they don’t really need to show us as models.”
That included navigating industrywide supply chain headwinds while quickly acquiring the chops to be a designer.
“One of the main issues that we’ve found is that things can look really good drawn on paper, but when you actually go to make a pattern for it, or when you actually go to sew it, it doesn’t really pan out how you think it would,” Tookes said. “So we’ve had a lot of learning curves on what can actually be done and what can’t.”
The result is a 28-piece inaugural collection — which ranges in price from $64 to $104 — of sports bras, leggings and matching sets in various color ways. Sizes range from XS to 2XL and can be purchased at joja.com.
Tookes pointed out that — unlike other activewear brands on the market that are performance-based — Joja’s selection is more fashion-focused, and distinctly Tookes-Skriver made. “If you see a girl walking down the street, you’ll immediately know that it’s a Joja pant,” she said. “We’re making it so you don’t have to feel like, you know, a slob or something [wearing activewear]. It’s actually really, really cute and you want to wear it out and walk around in it and show it off.”
In addition, Skriver said the matching pieces inspire friends to work out together, much like Skriver and Tookes.
“In one outfit [for example], the main color will be tan and there will be accents of white. And then the other [outfit in the set] is in opposite colors,” she explained. “So you’re not like twins, but you’re acting like sisters walking into a gym. And it stands out and you feel like part of a team. The camaraderie that you get from bringing in your girlfriends [to an exercise routine], it’s just like that motivation that you get from working out together. We wanted to bring that to people in our clothes and in our community.”
The founders said they hope to expand the assortment each year and eventually move into retail, whether by way of wholesale or brick-and-mortar stores.
“That would be the dream, to have our own Joja stores,” Skriver said. “With everything that goes on in the supply chain, and self-funding, we’ll see how much we can make happen. But we really, really want to expand this to a full universe. It would be more supplements and clothing and workouts [rather than ready-to-wear], so that we can give you anything that can help you along your journey to be a better you.”