October 22, 2020 6 min read

Original Article from Authority Magazine 

 

If there is an opportunity to design a better, more sustainable product than what’s currently available for your customer, then that’s positive. A lot of products that have been around for decades could use an upgrade. A great example is what Bala has done to modernize with the wrist weight. Pretty sure they are sold out everywhere.

Asa part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Laura and Maggie of OXB Studio. Their eXercise Brand is a line of favorite jewelry styles-made to safe to sweat in. OXB sources high-quality hypoallergenic metals that won’t rub off, irritate your skin and end up in the landfill after a few wears. All of the jewelry is handmade in Denver, Colorado by a team of women who care equally about design, sustainability, and the fitness community.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Laura is a co-founder of OXB jewelry, where she primarily works on marketing and operations. Prior to Our Exercise Brand, she was deeply involved in the fitness industry as a full-time indoor cycling instructor and trainer. She spent years opening up new cycling studios locally, nationally and internationally. In addition to cycling, Laura worked as a freelancer building websites and creating social media and digital marketing strategies for entrepreneurs across many industries. She now works full-time on OXB. Fun fact, she met co-founder, Maggie, in her 7:00 am spin class.

Maggie is a co-founder of OXB studio, where she focuses on product development and creative direction. Maggie’s career in jewelry began after she completed her yoga teacher training. She created a yoga-inspired jewelry line that sold locally in yoga studios and nationally at CorePower Yoga. To further her jewelry education (which she previously knew nothing about), Maggie apprenticed with a master goldsmith in Denver, Colorado for two years. She shifted design focus to develop Oxbow Designs where she makes fine jewelry, engagement rings, and features collections in Urban Outfitters and Free People. As a jeweler and fitness enthusiast, people always ask her if their jewelry is safe to work out and/or shower in. She met Laura in her 7am spin class, and together they built Our Exercise Brand, a line of sweatproof jewelry.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

We design and fabricate a line of jewelry to workout in. People tend to take their jewelry off or buy silicone bands, but OXB is a line of our favorite, on-trend jewelry styles made safe to sweat in. We source high-quality hypoallergenic metals that won’t rub off, irritate your skin, and end up in the landfill after a few wears. We are handmade in Denver, Colorado by a team of women who care equally about design, sustainability, and our fitness community.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Until Match of this year, we primarily sold our products in fitness studios. When COVID-19 lockdowns were first implemented, we lost 70% of our business overnight due to the business closures. We quickly pivoted our business and focused on DTC online sales. We ended up growing 400% in the second quarter of this year. At that time it was just the two of us producing all of our jewelry and in the April flood of orders, we made a mistake….or two.

Our hand stamped Custom Bar is one of our best-selling necklaces, someone ordered a “persevere” bar. Not only did we spell it wrong the first time we sent it out but the second time as well. The third time was a charm. We are lucky to have a direct line of communication to our customers and we are lucky they understand we are also human. We have a wall of shame up in our studio space to showcase our greatest spelling errors and misinterpretations and laugh about the growing pains now.

Our lesson? Hire. We’ve been able to hire three employees in the past six months. It’s given us the flexibility and brain space to focus on creativity, growth and brand development.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

The most influential people in building OXB have been two amazing women in our network.

Amanda was one of our first retail buyers and someone that believed in sweatproof jewelry, and took a chance on us early. She provided valuable feedback and saw market fit with her clientele at Xponential Fitness. She really helped put OXB on the nationwide map.

One of the franchises that picked us up, Pure Barre, connected us with gold medal Olympian Missy Franklin. She is now our newest brand ambassador!

At the Xponential convention, we met Jen, our sales consultant. She’s local to Denver and has years of knowledge on boutique fitness wholesale programs. When starting a business, there are a million jobs to do — and we learned we are only two people. We are big on doing everything ourselves, but with our sales program we quickly reached our capacity and Jen helped OXB create a sustainable sales program. She was so gracious to lend her skills set in a consulting role and she continues to be one of our biggest cheerleaders.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

If there is an opportunity to design a better, more sustainable product than what’s currently available for your customer, then that’s positive. A lot of products that have been around for decades could use an upgrade. A great example is what Bala has done to modernize with the wrist weight. Pretty sure they are sold out everywhere.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

These words of advice don’t tie to a specific story, rather they serve as our guide to how we run our business. They speak to persistence, perseverance and creativity.

  1. Keep going

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

We have a really exciting connection to the 2021 Olympics. We’re looking forward to working more with professional athletes and co-create products for women that perform at the highest level.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

We get a lot of questions, which we are happy to answer, unless it’s about our legitimacy as business owners. We’ve heard it all from “this will be a great business for when you have kids,” to “it’s a disappointment you have a jewelry business and a Vanderbilt education.” We know a few men who have started niche brands, and they don’t get pegged as “passion projects” or “hobbies.” It comes as a shock that we have a business plan and didn’t meet in a craft aisle at Michaels.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

We love listening to podcasts! They get the creative juices flowing during long days at the studio. We’ve been inspired by Ty Haney’s episode on How I Built This by Guy Raz and Kinsey Grant’s Business Casual podcast.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

We look at our business as a social contract: support the people who support your business. We donate 5% of our sales every month to 4 rotating nonprofits addressing causes our community cares about. Right now we have NAACP, ACLU, Girls Inc, and Planned Parenthood.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” — Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. This quote stems from his relationship with long-distance running. We look at starting a business as going for a really hard long-distance run. It’s about endurance, not the sprint. We constantly mess up, learn from it and grow. It’s the only way forward!

How can our readers follow you online?

@oxbstudio

www.oxb-studio.com

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!



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