When Tyler Haney, now 27, was in high school, she ran track, played basketball, and dug that kind of fitness gear. “I was wearing brands with the credo like, ‘Bigger! Faster! Stronger! More macho!’ And at the time, I was like, ‘Cool, I get it. I want to be faster!’ she says. Visit most activewear stores or websites, and you’ll instantly encounter black and mesh, extreme neon, and intense patterns.
“But then I started to realize that there was a beautiful balance between being feminine and athletic that wasn’t necessarily embodied in an activewear brand,” she says, “and so that’s really where kind of the initial feeling for Outdoor Voices came to be.”
Haney founded Outdoor Voices in 2013, and in just a couple of years, it’s become one of the biggest new stars in the fitness fashion world. The women’s and men’s clothing items are functional, understated, and classic. You may have seen them at J.Crew or on Man Repeller. OV products are currently sold on their website, at a handful of select retailers, and at OV’s one brick and mortar store in Austin (with plans for a popup NYC shop to open in November).
Beyond aesthetics, a core principle of Outdoor Voices is its perspective. Haney, also the CEO of Outdoor Voices, grew up in Boulder, Colorado, where “there’s no real separation between your gym life and your life life,” she says. “You’re biking to places and you’re hiking, so that was what I was very connected to.”
That idea of ongoing physical activity, of doing something, anything—or “Doing Things,” as the company puts it—is now a major part of the OV philosophy.
“We don’t really see a start or finish in activity, especially recreational activity, which is what we’re making clothes for,” says Haney. “The idea of ‘Doing Things’ is less prescriptive. … We make clothes that you can go play soccer in, do Pilates or yoga in, clothes that function across various activities. And I think that lends itself nicely to the way that our generation is working out, like going to SoulCycle and hiking on the weekends, then jogging with friends.”
Other people clearly think so, too. Outdoor Voices’ fan base is proof, and Haney’s story is evidence that a smart idea and hard work can lead to major brand potential.
1. Embrace Your Fascination
Haney studied business at Parsons School of Design in New York City, but that wasn’t her original plan. “I was meant to go to school for hurdles and opted out of that,” she says. While she was at Parsons, she became completely captivated by technical fabrics—“everything related to compression and sweat-wicking and what sort of fibers and raw materials really work best with the body.” She began developing a material that’s now core to OV, and eventually, a new business was born.
2. Be Driven, but Also Take Your Time
Haney says she’s definitely had to learn persistence but also patience. “When I first started, I was like, ‘I need this now. This should be happening faster,’” says Haney. “But what I’ve realized over time is the time that I’ve had to reflect on decisions and really start to understand what the vision is, that’s been the most valuable kind of learning.”
3. Surround Yourself with Incredible People
Thinking back on the whirlwind last couple of years and OV’s now-25-member team (including president Andrew Parietti), Haney says, “It’s been crazy, but it’s been amazing. And I think the most exciting part is the team that we’re able to build and the people that have been attracted to Outdoor Voices. … I couldn’t have imagined the types of talent and just amazing people that I get to come in to work with every day, so that is no doubt my favorite part of this.”
4. Make Your Company’s POV Your Company’s Lifestyle
The whole point of OV is to celebrate bringing people together via activities, says Haney. So naturally, the entire team practices yoga together every Monday. They also play basketball together, have a joggers’ club that they invite their friends to, and even have an office pup.
5. Switch up the System
Haney and OV are
doing things Doing Things to change things. “A lot of people traditionally have felt that working out or performance brands are unapproachable,” says Haney. “And I think that’s a big part of Outdoor Voices: We’re making it approachable, which is definitely resonating with a whole new demographic.”