So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
In 2010, my husband of almost 14 years and I split up, and I found myself looking for ways to make some extra money to pay the bills. I needed to make a choice. I was a freelance graphic designer and was torn between taking a full-time corporate job out of my home or stay where I was so that I could have a flexible schedule to take care of my son, who at the time, was 7. I had been doing a bit more kit design for pros and teams, and a friend suggested I design my own line.
At first, I was both skeptical and scared. I was at the ultimate low point in my life with no extra funds to go around and no clue how to start/run my own business. After weighing all the options, I decided to take a chance and start very small using only the small amount of cash I had. In October of 2010, I went to Kona to spectate at the Ironman World Championship and brought a backpack containing 25 cycling jerseys, a couple dozen tank tops and wristbands with the Betty Designs skull/butterfly logo.
I walked around town in the jersey and tanks and wanted to see if anyone noticed the logo/design. I sold all the jerseys, went home, and ordered more. The online store went live that fall as well with the Signature Cycle Jersey + matching cycle short, the tanks and the wristbands. My goal was to only continue if I had the cash to order more product. If stuff didn’t sell, the plan was to go back to full-time freelance work.
Has it been a smooth road?
I’m not sure that “smooth” is ever in the vocabulary of running a business. There are so many details that have to line up on a regular basis. I learn something new every week.
Sometimes it’s been the hard way where I took a chance on spending ad dollars that I did not recoup or taking a gamble on small apparel capsule that was a tad bit out of my sweet spot (women’s swim/cycle/tri). In general, I believe I have great intuition and I am not afraid to take some calculated risks. Lessons are opportunities for growth and I welcome that in all areas of my life.
All that being said, I would say that I pinch myself every day that I was able to abandon my freelance workload and run my brand full time. I have learned so much and am challenged every day to become a better designer + businesswoman. In October it will be 8 years!
We’d love to hear more about your business.
The Name: I have always loved bold, bright colors and have gotten a ton of inspiration from surf + street culture. My freelance design business name was Brand Betty. I worked in the industry of endurance sports and did not want to take my name to seriously or come off as stuffy or corporate. Since Betty is Aussie slang for a “hot surfer chick” I thought it was fun + playful. When I started doing more kit designs I wanted it to have more of a designer “label” to it, hence the name Betty Designs was a natural fit.
The Logo: The logo comes from a couple of places. Back in my racing days (I raced triathlons for almost 20 years), I would superstitiously wear a skull necklace around my neck to motivate myself to “toughen up” and “suck it up” during a race. I always had an irrational fear of surf entry ocean swim starts so this necklace was to give me the mental strength to get through it and push myself. In all my years of racing, I wanted to race with the boys, but look like a girl. To me, there is nothing more fun than seeing a woman kick ass on a race course and then be able to go home, clean up and be a lady. It’s the belief that women can be both strong + beautiful.
My designs: One of our mottos is #badassisbeautiful. Another is #DoEpicShit. My designs are edgy, bold, fun, rebellious + fierce. My goal is to create a feminine but edgy designs that are unique. Butterflies, pinks + floral prints don’t have to look like grandmas nightgown. I don’t hold back. My designs aren’t for everybody and that is ok with me.
I want someone to look at my designs and either love it or hate it. I believe if you don’t get a reaction to your work, it’s just lost and nothing special. I love pairing unexpected motifs, patterns and playing with asymmetry. I want my kits to stand out from a mile down the road and if that means having a sponsor logo stand out, that has to be part of it as well.
I am a designer by trade. By passion. I have been a designer my entire career and this is what gets me out of the bed in the morning. I am most proud that I took the lowest point in my life and turned it into something I never thought I was capable of. I am equally proud that I did it on my own. No loans. No investors. No credit. I methodically built it over time.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
San Diego is the birthplace of triathlon. When I moved here in the fall of 1994 I was just starting to swim/bike/run and had my eye on racing my first couple triathlons. We have the ideal climate all year round to get outside and everyone in this area is passionate about getting outside and playing. I have never seen a place with more active people milling about on a daily basis.
The city has been trying to create better bike lanes so that driver is more aware of all the cyclist in our city. It’s a work in progress and I think the more the city build these lanes with high visibility, the safer it will be for us to get outside and do what we love.