A pair of new deals for Ziel could help boost the profile of the New York-based on-demand activewear manufacturer.
The start-up, a member of the XRC Labs accelerator program since January, participates in a demo day for the program Friday with an aim to raise a seed round that would help the company scale. Ziel has so far grown through a combination of bootstrapping as well as an undisclosed amount of angel funding. The company so far counts 10 clients with a worker count of seven.
Company founder and chief executive Marleen Vogelaar confirmed Ziel struck a deal with plus-size subscription box company Gwynnie Bee on a 10-style activewear collection offered in sizes 16 to 30. The collection includes a mix of both tops and bottoms and is due out by June.
The company is also set to produce a collection for model Candice Huffine by around the same timeframe. That collection is also expected to be 10 pieces.
“We are really ramping up the growth right now. We’re really scaling this. We’re at the end of the beginning,” said Vogelaar of where the company’s at in its life cycle.
Vogelaar, trained in industrial engineering, is the founder and former coo and cfo of 3-D printing company Shapeways. At six-foot-two, Vogelaar said she’s always had trouble fitting into the right clothing, which has led her to focus her career on serving niche segments as it relates to sizing.
Ziel is in some ways the next step in that quest. Her latest company looks to serve three different customer segments with its production capabilities: retailers in need of private label merchandise, smaller fitness studios and the celebrity and influencer set.
The typical industry problems of high cost of design, order minimums and markdowns are all problems Ziel aims to solve, particularly for the smaller players unable to shoulder much of those costs. Ziel also handles the drop shipping to customers and is integrated in with companies’ point-of-sale systems.
“That’s already hard for the average retailer or wholesaler. You can imagine that for these smaller brands that are popping up everywhere that problem is even harder,” she said.
All Ziel product is made domestically with turnaround times of about 10 days. Vogelaar estimated that could eventually be reduced to two longer term and by the end of the year expects it to be at six.
“At some point in time we have to emulate the Amazon experience where people order something and they get it two days later,” Vogelaar said. “That’s relevant to our client, who is the brand, because they don’t have the inventory risk and the associated markdowns.”
For More Activewear Coverage in WWD: