Emma Vollrath, a 22-year-old Southern Californian and Swimfluence Network member, started her company, Emma Lou, out of a desire to have her workout clothes to do more. The concept for the athletic-wear company grew out of her work as a personal trainer, having helped women feel more confident in their bodies. In the fall of 2019, Emma Lou was born: an innovative line of athletic wear created out of performance-enhancing material – you not only look great while wearing the line, but also amp up your workouts. In just the three short years since its founding, Emma Lou has been recognized in Vogue, Forbes, Marie Claire and Seventeen, to name a few.
We met Vollrath in the TSN Small Business Babes group, which is home to hundreds of conversations where TSN members share business advice, inspiration and personal updates. From side hustles to blossoming ventures, the group has it all. We talked with Vollrath about her experience as a female business owner and her advice for other female entrepreneurs.
What other kinds of work did you do before starting Emma Lou?
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I started out as a babysitter, then a personal trainer, which thankfully got me into the wellness space.
Before starting Emma Lou, what did you feel was missing in the activewear market?
I felt that the activewear market was a bit outdated and saw a gap in the market to create innovative pieces with fabric that performed with you instead of just another pair of yoga pants without any benefits for your well-being.
Tell me about what first interested you in the health and wellness space?
Working out has always piqued my interest, which started with cardio, then weights, then yoga, and now Pilates and the TA Method (my fave). I really just loved the idea of being able to better yourself with movement and doing something that you know will benefit you down the line. Adding the nutrition aspect of wellness is also interesting because I love being able to try different things within the industry and experiment with new recipes.
What was the process of creating Emma Lou like?
It was a bit all over the place! But I knew that samples had to be my first order of business to make sure the product was tangible and effective. Once I was happy with the sample, it was time to get all the legal things out of the way so I was an established business. Then came branding, which is truly one of the most important parts of your brand. When I first started Emma Lou, it was unrecognizable compared to what it is today, because it’s evolved so much as I have grown over the years. My demographic, product and aesthetic has changed for the better! That’s what is so fun about designing clothes because trends are ever-changing, and creating outfits that go with the times makes it exciting.
What has been your greatest success so far?
The feedback I have gotten from my customers about the pieces—especially the Sculpt & Sweat yoga pants—on how they feel good in their bodies, because of the waistband effects, or just the fit of the clothing, has been one of my greatest successes. In addition, being noticed by platforms such as Forbes and Vogue is also tremendously rewarding when noteable editors love the product as much as you do.
Do you have any advice for female entrepreneurs?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to people in your network. Yo’’d be surprised at how many people are willing to help or have contacts that can be useful to you. I used to get really embarrassed when I would ask for help because I didn’t want to be a bother, but usually people are willing and able to put in a good word and make introductions. So put yourself out there and see what you can learn from it!
What is it that attracted you to SI Swimsuit as a platform?
What first attracted me to SI Swim was how vulnerable and real the SI Swimsuit models were; they were so open in sharing their stories which helped me in so many ways. And through The Swimfluence Network, I was introduced to so many amazing women who are ambitious, confident, and compassionate. I have been so fortunate to join the community and make friends for life through it!
What do you think of SI Swimsuit’s new Pay With Change promise?
I’ve always loved the saying “Actions speak louder than words,” and SI Swimsuit has done an amazing job of taking immediate action to take a leading role over the narrative of what’s allowed on the platform. I grew up in a toxic era of media where women were objectified and sexism was prominent, so when SI Swimsuit announced Pay With Change, it’s a positive step in helping change how women are viewed in the media.
What does the future look like for Emma Lou?
There are so many things I am looking forward to announcing with Emma Lou. The collections that are coming out are ones that I am so passionate about with my customer top of mind. Each outfit goes with a specific aesthetic and campaign, and I have been working on new samples like crazy so they can be released soon. There is definitely a pop-up shop in the future, so keep your eyes peeled for that, along with a new collection coming out in a few weeks!
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