Small Manufactures Who are Making a BIG Difference

You can’t deny the facts: women are becoming more and more active. Take cycling, for example: in the 2014 U.S. Bicycling Participation Study, People for Bikes found that 43 percent of bicyclist were women—that’s nearly half of the entire population of bicyclist!  An astounding 45 million American women strap on their helmets and climb in the saddle every year; that’s a huge market that’s just begging to be tapped.
As specialty retailers, it’s important to appeal to this new and hastily growing demographic of women shoppers and athletes. But many traditional, male-dominated retailers don’t necessarily understand how to access and appeal to that population. It takes innovative retail strategies and innovative products to market to women. Specialty products that fulfill a specific need of the active female population are practically guaranteed success, including profit for specialty retailers. Sweet Spot Skirts do just that.
Stephanie Lynn’s inspiration for Sweet Spot Skirts came from her own experiences as, you guessed it, an active female consumer. Riding her bike between appointments as a real estate agent, Lynn felt that her leggings were a bit too revealing to work professionally, but she often didn’t have time to change outfits throughout the day. The solution? A reversible, adjustable and fashionable skirt to cover her “sweet spot.”

It’s an obstacle many active women run up against. Maintaining modesty in a world of sheer, short and revealing athleisure wear is a priority for many women, especially mothers. The U.S. Bicycling Participation Study found that women with children ride at a higher rate than those without; there are millions of mothers out there looking for flattering and age-appropriate clothing to wear biking—and to yoga and pilates and the gym. Sweet Spot Skirts are the perfect solution.

As the Sweet Spot Skirts business took off, Lynn found that women used the skirts for all sorts of sports and activities, making it the perfect product for a broad spectrum of retailers to carry in order to tap into that growing female demographic. “Our marketing highlights all of the activities during which you can wear the classic Sweet Spot® Skirt,” Lynn explains. “It isn’t just for biking, but you can bike 1-100 miles in it. It isn’t just for yoga, but you can downward dog and warrior pose with ease and comfort knowing the skirt moves with you. We market to all active women: golf, running, cycling, hiking, yoga, Zumba, apres’ ski, boating, rollerblading, skateboarding…the list goes on. Versatility is the best thing we offer women. They can wear the skirt out and about in social and high fashion settings and also take it for a 5 mile jog.”

Versatility isn’t just the best thing Sweet Spot Skirts offer women—it’s also the best thing they offer retailers. Innovative, multi-purpose products like Sweet Spot Skirts are the perfect merchandise to acquaint hesitant or unfamiliar shops with the feminine marketplace. Whether you’re an exclusive cycling shop or a general sports retailer, merchandise like Lynn’s that appeals to a variety of active women is an easy sale.
But you can’t just sell a product because it fills a female-shaped shelf. Women are intrinsically picky shoppers; truly innovative brands know that, and appeal to multiple facets of female desires. Lynn can list dozens of expectations of the active, busy, working woman: “They expect extremely high customer service. They expect well-made products that have high fit and function. They love a ‘good story,’ appreciate items made locally and even better if they can support other passionate women.” It’s a laundry list of desires—and easy selling points—that products like Sweet Spot can deliver.
Another important marketing factor is, almost ironically, the lack of traditional marketing. Women can see right through contrived advertising or hokey pitches. “Wealso work hard to maintain authenticity and transparency in our story. Sales trickery and gimmicks will never work with our consumers,” says Lynn. But perhaps most importantly? “They want to look and feel good, so they buy products from Sweet Spot® Skirts.” Looking good is always a priority for ladies, so products that can offer function in fashionable form are always female favorites.
Smaller, specialty retail shops often have trouble competing with big brands if they sell the same ho-hum big-box products, but smaller brands like Lynn’s come with packs of perks. Customization, quickness, real human service—Sweet Spot Skirts offer so much more than corporate powerhouses. “We can sell a package of 12 skirts to a bike shop and help them customize the right blend of color and style for ‘their’ female customers,” Lynn points out. You can completely personalize your inventory to what you know will appeal to your customer. You don’t have to worry about over or under stocking or that the designs that appealed to customers in New York will appeal to your customers in Minneapolis.
It’s an innovative system that hearkens back to times of yore, when customization was key.  “The industry standard for small shops is to pre-order from apparel lines that are manufacturing offshore. Store owners wait up to six months for delivery and if product is oversold, they may not receive fill-in orders,” explains Lynn. But because Sweet Spot Skirts is completely locally manufactured, they can deliver a surprising standard of service. “In our case, a store could order a month in advance and we are able fulfill it with gorgeous functional skirts that are guaranteed to wow women. Ease of ordering, size adjustability and customization of orders make our products profitable and desirable to both shop owners and women consumers.”
Innovative products like Sweet Spot Skirts are special, unique and incredibly marketable. They appeal to a constantly expanding customer base, they’re locally-made, they offer a solution to a modern-day problem and they’re actually easy to stock. They’re a specialty retailer’s dream.
Lynn understands the growing marketplace provided by female sports enthusiasts, especially cyclists, and she understands the profits to be made and the problems to be solved. That also means she has a keen eye for the blunders bicycle shops are currently making. “First thing bike shops would need to do to improve sell-thru is to choose to carry products that are innovative and that women will actually buy,” Lynn notes.

Though Sweet Spot Skirts are indubitably innovative, Lynn isn’t alone; there’s a whole generation of female entrepreneurs on the rise who understand, and are marketing to, these new female consumers. They’re completely reshaping the industry—and the way you do business. “I have friends who own bike-related companies, small and extremely innovative, and together we are changing the world of biking for women. When you look at us as a whole, we provide creative, cutting edge, functional products that come with unique ‘stories’ of success. And at Sweet Spot® Skirts, we are changing the world one skirt at a time.”

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