Sally Poulsen, The Edmontonian, July 27, 2010
View the original article on The Edmontonian's website
As if the story of Sherwood Park’s Terrafrog Clothing Corporation wasn’t already the stuff of screenplays: a pair of scrappy sisters with no fashion experience tire of clothes that don’t fit them properly and launch their own upstart fashion company, producing socially conscious, limited-run workout wear which catches on like wildfire and launches them into a fast-paced career in fashion (this is all mine, by the way – I’m totally optioning it so BACK OFF).
Now, there’s another interesting twist in the story of Bobbi and Cori Windsor, owners of Terrafrog. The company’s environmentally conscious workout wear has just been picked up in the U.S. by Kinespirit Studios, described in a Terrafrog press release as “a chain of upscale New York wellness studios specializing in Gyrotonic exercise and Pilates.”
Starting in September, these Canadian products will be showing up on store shelves in Manhattan.
So I guess you could say, Cori and Bobbi’s fancy-pants pants just got a whole lot fancier.
Okay, tough crowd. But let me backtrack a bit.
Two years ago, Cori and Bobbi started Terrafrog Clothing Corporation in Sherwood Park. They describe the company as a “fresh alternative to mass-produced athletic wear.” They specialize in limited edition garments made in Canada that are sourced to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
Neither of the sisters had any previous experience in the fashion industry. They were just tired of being disappointed in the workout wear they purchased.
“Everyone was wearing the same thing,” explains Cori. “If we did find something that met our criteria, it wasn’t made in Canada. Jackets that shrank, pants that came down too low.”
So while they were on leave from their respective jobs in 2006 (Bobbi was a teacher, and Cori was a nurse who specialized in ORGAN TRANSPLANTS) they got the idea of starting their own clothing line. After all, they reasoned, how hard could it be?
“We started making phone calls to people in the industry and they just slammed the phone down on us. ”
Okay, so maybe it could be a little bit hard. But as Cori tells it, that just encouraged the ladies to do more homework.
“We read as many textbooks as someone for a four year degree! The more we learned, the longer people would stay on the phone with us, and people started to listen to us in the industry.”
As this was happening, both Cori’s daughter and Bobbi’s son were diagnosed with some serious health ailments. It was while at home, working on the business and caring for their kids, that Cori and Bobbi’s husbands gave them the final push they needed to pursue their vision and launch into the the more expensive (and intimidating) phase of manufacturing.
We were stuck in the research stage for a long time,” laughs Cori. “Research is cheap! And if you do fail, nobody knows about it!”
The TerraFrog ladies launched their line in December of 2008 with a wine and cheese party.
“Initially our model was that we were not going to contact any stores,” explains Cori. “We wanted to just feel our way through just doing online sales first.”
“Within 2 weeks of the wine and cheese, we had retailers contacting us. It was scary, because that wasn’t our business model.”
“Retailers really like us for a couple of reasons – we’re made in Canada…, we make things in limited edition.”
“Most manufacturing companies will send out pictures/sketches, and ask retailers to put in their order six months prior. The manufacturer will then make an amount based on the number of orders they received. So if they get a million orders for a black t shirt, they’ll make that many.”
“We don’t do that. We make a limited amount of product, and then we send out our order forms…it’s on a first come first serve basis.”
Terrafrog’s first line was sold by three area retailers. In the two years since they launched, they’ve grown to nearly 25 retailers across the country – and now Kinespirit Studios in New York.
Kinespirit, by the way, is a really well known company in the U.S.. Their trainers have been on popular shows like Regis and Kelly and the Rachael Ray Show.
A press release form Terrafrog quotes Kinespirit co-owner Christopher Daly: “The funky-but-functional perspective TerraFrog brings to athletic wear is truly unique. And that is what New Yorkers look for -something fresh and chic. TerraFrog is a going to be a big hit in New York City.”
If you’d like to get your hands on some TerraFrog products before they’re so famous you can’t afford them, visit their website.
All prices are in CAD.