Our journey around the globe to highlight our partners has now taken us to Matamata, Waikato, New Zealand to the home of Gym Clothing NZ.
Gym Clothing NZ was born during the later part of 2013, but owners Karen Montague and her husband Grant are no strangers to running a successful business. Their other company Viking Kayaks has been in business since 1999 and is among the best when it comes to the kayak business.
Before starting Gym Clothing NZ Karen was handling all the admin work related to their other business, but for someone like Karen, this simply wasn’t enough. She was looking for something more, something that she was passionate about, but it had to be something that she felt comfortable with. As a figure competitor for over ten years, something within the fitness industry was a no-brainer. As a self-proclaimed gym clothing fanatic, Karen was always checking out the chain stores and seeing what was new on the market.
When she came across the Better Bodies women’s line she knew she had found exactly what she was looking for; she was hooked.
When we asked Karen what got her hooked, she said: “I love the uniqueness of the styles, the fit, the pants length, the small things like zips, anti-glide, and of course the camo!”
Better Bodies quickly became her “go-to” clothes to wear when training! After sporting the brand for a while, the entrepreneur spirit within Karen started to burn; it was time to take it to the next level, and that is how Gym Clothing NZ was born.
Even if Karen is an experienced business owner entering the retail clothing market is always a challenge, and the beginning isn’t always a straightaway.
However, this didn’t discourage Karen and when we asked her a little bit about the business and the early days she had this to say.
“So it was slow to start, I needed a website, I needed stock to sell on the website, I needed to spread the word so people would find the business.
I was also very green about purchasing within the clothing retail business; I overstocked a lot of styles that I really loved as opposed to what others may like – oops.
Since the shipping (from Better Bodies) is very fast, often less than a week, I have now learned to keep the stock levels lower as I can replace items quite quickly.”
With social media, these days playing such a huge role in everyday life learning the ins and outs of social media marketing was a challenge.
Knowing that exposure was key and getting products in the hands of customers, Gym Clothing NZ headed to where they knew they could get both, a bodybuilding competition.
“Being an on-line business meant this was really a necessity – but it was also a great way to interact with customers. I still do these even now” says Karen.
Along with marketing themselves at local bodybuilding competitions and through their social media, Karen knew that building an ambassador team was a must.
For Karen building, a strong male ambassador team was a priority. She says “My Male Ambassadors have been Gold. The women’s wear always sold easily (women are shoppers), but getting the men to learn about the range meant I needed to have men wearing it.”
The saying “all you have to do is ask” goes a long way and that is exactly what Karen did. She approached Denver Chandy who visited their booth at the NZ Fitness Expo, she knew who he was, and he had ordered from the website before, but when he walked in the booth wearing GASP jeans and a GASP tee, Karen said “I knew he was our man.”
After Denver was signed and brought onboard, she was approached by IFBB Pro Steve Orton who wanted to join the team, and while he was a “no brainer”, it wasn’t just said and done that quick.
For Karen it was important that they meet first, for her it isn’t just about looking good on social media, she wanted to get to know him as a person. They met at the NZIFBB Pro-Ams, and he ticked all the boxes.
With two great guys on the team, she set her sights on building up the ladies side, and she has one in the works now.
When asked who she was Karen would only tell us “Her posts on IG/FB are great, she has a huge following, and without any prompting, she has been an incredible Influencer of Better Bodies and GASP these last 18 months – you will find out about her soon”. We look forward to finding out who she this mystery ambassador will be.
Gym Clothes NZ has done great, and with each year their business has grown. Through their hard work and dedication, their sales have continued to rise as have the followers.
Remember that old saying “all you have to do is ask” well here it comes again.
Karen told us a story that people familiar with the brands would as her, “Wow, how did you get to be selling these top brands?” my answer is simply “I asked.”
Last but not least we asked Karen if she had any advice to those thinking about starting their own business.
My advice to people is, don’t stand there dithering, if you have a passion, go for it! You have one life so have fun, embrace challenges. Things won’t always go to plan but remember it isn’t heart surgery, you aren’t dealing with a life or death situation, move on and learn from the glitches.
Starting the business has definitely been more of a challenge than I had first anticipated. Do I have any regrets? Definitely not! I have learned so much.
We wish Karen and Gym Clothing NZ continued success and look forward to continuing to support her in her journey!
Make sure to check them out at:
Facebook: Gym Clothing NZ
If you own a brick and mortar store or e-commerce business and are interested in becoming a partner, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our account managers will get back to you.
(Text by: Erik Bergsten/Pictures Provided by Gym Clothing NZ)