BY RACHEL DALTON
Guys, when I emailed Amy and asked if I could interview her, she INVITED ME IN TO HER HOME in Richmond. How nice is that? I walked in and felt so comfortable in her beautiful, warm space (um, hello insanely chic Lindsay Cowles art!). We connected instantly and the fun began! I tried on SO MANY PANTS!
Amy, when I left your house (with four pair of pants and three new friends: you and your two adorable pups!) I felt so inspired, excited, and energized. You are a light and I am so grateful to have met you. Can’t wait to have you in Lynchburg soon! And for everyone else, shop SYP HERE!
Name, age, location
Tell us about your background? Where did you grow up? How did you get to Richmond? What does your education entail? Have you always been interested in fitness and fashion?
I grew up in Fort Worth, Texas (Fourth generation).
After college at University of Texas in Austin (Bachelors of Science in Journalism), I moved to Chicago where I spent the better part of 10 years in Advertising Account Management on mostly Kraft Foods businesses.
I was recruited to Richmond to do Innovation for Reynolds Consumer Products, then owned by Alcoa, in 2007.
I have always loved fashion. And I have “dabbled” in fitness since college. I think the two first crossed paths in the context of ski clothes. And then for more “everyday fitness” activities when I first started working out with personal trainers in Chicago (rehabbing from a skiing accident ACL tear). Lululemon had just opened in Chicago and I remember thinking I was cool for knowing about and having their clothes.
We need more details about SYP! We love the site! You really seem to care about women’s body awareness, comfort, confidence, and style…all at once. It’s about time someone did! What in your past has most specifically led you to where you are today and the creation of SYP?
I have this theory that the world would be a better place to live in if we’d all just smile at each other on the street. If we could all see the good in each other and treat ourselves and each other with love and respect.
And I think that that starts with feeling good about ourselves. That’s a big thing, of course.
It took me a lot of years of being hard on myself and others. Of overworking and undervaluing that work. And then a few years of hard work to deprogram that — a dedicated yoga practice, mindfulness exercises, some traveling alone, a big breakup, and ultimately a “sabbatical” and an attempt to live as authentically me as possible — to finally come to a place where I think I can say that I love myself enough to truly want the best for others too.
And that was genuinely the root of SYP.
I felt amazing in these pants. And I wanted other people to feel that happiness and confidence and joy.
And people smiled at and talked to me on the street. And I smiled and spoke back to them. And my day was a little brighter. And I think their days were a little brighter too. And I wanted to make those positive ripples happen more often for everyone that I could.
We LOVE how you carry a variety of brands (AND PATTERNS OMG) on the site, but do you have any favorites? What does it take for a brand to be sold on SYP? You talk about “testing” the pants you sell…what makes a pant pass or fail?
The first brand that I “found” was Teeki. It is the one that “started it all” and the one that “feels like home” to me. I really do love each of the brands that we carry, though. For different reasons and different occasions.
And, although I think most customers have favorite brands, it is not at all uncommon for them to have at least one pair from each of the brands we carry. And we consistently get the feedback from them that I gave above…they like the different brands/pairs for different things.
I think that is really a byproduct of the testing we put potential Superfun pants through. Our ultimate goal is to only carry things that are “amazing”. Things that make you feel like a million dollars when you put them on. Things that make you smile at yourself in the mirror and at other people on the street.
I have a “team” of roughly 20 fitness professionals, representing a wide variety of shapes and sizes, who “test” the pants.
“Testing” means that they wear them, over a period of time, as they would if they owned them. For whatever fitness activities they do or classes they teach/take. And for “just living” ie sitting on their couches with pets and kids under blankets, running around town doing errands, with boots and sweaters as a more comfortable equivalent to jeans, etc.
Importantly, all testers share the same samples…so each one gets worn and washed a bunch of times. And we get feedback and assess (ourselves) the “end-state” of the pants.
First and foremost, for a pair of pants to be “Superfun,” they must feel amazing. They need to wick and breathe. They can’t be see through. They can’t sag or bunch in unflattering ways. They can’t pill or pick easily. And they need to hold up over use and washing.
Just like it’s important that we get customers into the right sizes in each brand of pants, part of the process is having the testers try on a variety of sizes…sometimes test two sizes even…so we learn how the pants fit (size-wise, for different body types, etc) and “work” best (ie tighter or looser for more intense activity).
We especially like the ones that the testers WANT to take from “studio to street”. The ones that feel like fashion for regular life as much as for the gym. There are a lot of “patterns” out there that I, personally, don’t find to be “fashionable” as much as they are just fun fitness pants. And my personal bias for what builds “confidence and joy” and makes people smile at each other when walking on the street is toward things that have a certain amount of sophistication.
What’s a typical eating day like for you? Breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Dessert? Snacks? Cocktails? Is there anything you would never eat? Anything you always eat? What are some easy snacks or go-to items you reach for often? Tell us about your refrigerator…what would we find inside?
There is very little structure or routine in my eating habits, so it’s kind of hard for me to answer this question.
Other than in the fact that I think I have become pretty sensitive to what my body “needs,” by way of what some people might call “cravings,” I have to be honest that I am probably not the best role-model when it comes to food.
A few things that seem noteworthy to me right now:
- I am not much of a snacker.
- I get headaches from alcohol, so I don’t typically drink more than one drink at a time and I probably only have one drink a week on average. And if I’m gonna do it, it’s gonna be something I really like. A really good glass of wine, craft beer, or bourbon drink.
- I would bet that I teeter on the verge of iron deficiency and there are times when I really “need” red meat. It’s not very often, but when I am craving meat, I make sure to eat it.
- I am completely aware that I don’t drink enough water. I’m always trying to work on that!
We all get into workout slumps but fabulous workout gear helps us get to the gym for sure. What is your fitness routine? Do you change it up? I know you are a yogi and have your 200HR YTT…I have been researching places to get my certification! Tell us about that experience and what led you to pull the trigger.
I really don’t mix it up much. Yoga is what works for me. And it is what I want to do every day. It is mind and body and spirit, for me. And I feel confident that the practice that I have is good for me for health and longevity. I am not so young anymore and I really don’t want to hurt myself for the sake of “exercise.”
I found “it” on a Surf and Yoga retreat in Bali, Indonesia just over three years ago. During the rest of my trip around SE Asia, I found yoga studios and then went to a lot of studios in RVA when I returned to find a place that I felt I would want to keep going to. At that point, I was probably going three or four days a week. But consistently to a few of the same classes (teachers and time slots).
It was changing my mind and my body so much. And I am a “student”. I like to learn “the right” things to do.
When the YogaWorks program was starting at Yoga Source (which is the studio where I landed after all of my research around town), I wasn’t sure if I had been practicing long enough. But one of those teachers who saw me regularly assured me that I was at a good place to do it.
And so I did. And I loved it. And I love that now I feel like I can enjoy a yoga class pretty much anywhere and taught by anyone. Because that training led to enough personal practice that I feel like I know my body well enough to do and get what I need out of any practice. I know pretty well, I think, when to push and when to back off.
And I think that has translated off the mat into my personal life in a lot of ways too!
We love that you host pop up shops around the city and beyond! Any plans of opening a brick and mortar retail store in Richmond? Currently, how do customers shop SYP? Any interest in coming to Lynchburg and setting up shop at our favorite barre, pilates, TRX, yoga, & kettlebell studio? (pretty please!)
My vision is not to have a retail store but rather to keep popping up around town. And to begin to pop up in other towns.
And YES, we would love to come to Lynchburg!!
Customers can shop at those events (2-5 days a week, I say “like a food truck”). And they can buy online. The site is fairly simple right now, but we are in the process of building out a more robust version that will include much better filtering and some tools to help you find the right pairs of pants…the way that we do in person!
What else should we know about Amy Brachman? When you aren’t working or practicing yoga, where are you and what are you doing?
I love food. And you’ll find me trying new restaurants.
I love to be outside. And when the weather is nice, I try to work and/or play in nature as much as possible.
I love people and connecting. And I am trying, even as SYP is getting busier, to keep time for coffee or lunch (back to that food thing, I guess) with people regularly.
I love helping people, especially other women, figure out what they want to do in life and/or how to start or grow the thing that they are already doing. Many of those coffee’s or lunches are about those things.
What’s next for SYP and for you?
My goal is to spread as much of that confidence and joy and smiling street interactions as possible. So…
– I am actively working to hire in RVA to allow us to get to new drivable markets and to free me up some to “grow the business.”
– I mentioned that we are relaunching the website to give customers more of the shopping experience that local RVA customers have come to know as our in-person Superfun experience. That should go live within a month or two.
-And we are launching pop-up shopping in Fort Worth, Texas (which is my hometown) at the end of this month. If all goes well there, we would like to launch a few more markets. But probably not until 2016.
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