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Meet Brittney Hogan of Virago Fitness in Mission Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brittney Hogan.

Brittney, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started Virago Fitness in 2014, two years after my husband, LCpl Hunter Hogan was killed in Afghanistan deployed with the US Marine Corps. After his death, I hit rock bottom. I drank heavily to try to ignore my pain and sorrow. I did this for a few years until finally turning to fitness as a way to cope, and it completely saved my life. I started Virago because I wanted to inspire others to use fitness for post-traumatic growth. Virago means a person of extreme strength and spirit, and our mission is to inspire healing and growth through fitness. Through our activewear sales, programs, campaigns, and events we rally our community to turn to fitness instead of unhealthy vices when struggling with life’s obstacles. We are just about to launch our first program called The F.I.T. Project which stands for “Fitness is Therapy”. With this program, we partner with local fitness instructors to offer a free fitness class to anyone who’d like to join in. Our goal is to provide the opportunity to everyone to experience first-hand the benefit of fitness for personal growth and healing, while also introducing them to incredible fitness instructors and communities in their area that can help them develop over time. In the near future, we plan to build a factory in the United States and produce all of our products in-house and hire mainly military Veterans and their families.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Starting and running Virago has been a difficult process. I started the company with no capital, just a lot of support from friends and family and a lot of perseverance. I’ve had to wear many hats and go back to the drawing board many times, but I have learned so much through constant trial and error and reassessing the overall goal of what I was trying to accomplish. I think one of the biggest struggles so far has been learning to be patient with myself and Virago. It took me a while to realize that success doesn’t happen overnight; it is a process. Over the last four years, Virago has evolved into what it is today, and we are excited to be a nonprofit organization with a clear mission making a difference in the community. I can’t wait to take our programs nationwide and change the way people think and feel about fitness.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Virago Fitness – what should we know?
At Virago Fitness we design and manufacture quality activewear that can be worn during most all types of fitness activities, but what sets us apart is a mission behind the brand. The clothing is just the vehicle that spreads awareness about the benefit of fitness for post-traumatic growth. We want consumers to feel good about buying activewear and wearing something they can truly stand behind and support. Virago is more than an apparel company, it’s a movement. I am the President of Virago, and I personally handle all of the operations and creative design. Since Virago is so heavily based off of my unique journey, I am the voice of Virago. I create the graphics on our clothing, I create all of the marketing materials and specialize in making sure that our branding is cohesive and ensure that it tells our story. As a company, I am most proud of our ability to adapt, improvise and overcome. They say that many small businesses fail in the first year, and we definitely could have. We have had many setbacks, but we have never given up. We still have a long way to go, but we have created a strong brand with a strong mission and I’m certain that will take us great lengths.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
There are so many others that also deserve credit for the success of Virago Fitness. First and foremost, my fiancé. He has always stood by me and encouraged me during this journey. He always gives me honest feedback and pushes me to be my best. My parents and family have taught me so much about business and have also always been my biggest fans. The Board of Directors at Virago play an integral role in the success of our company. Last but not least, none of this would be possible without my good friend Nam. When all I had for Virago was a name and a logo, the screen printed our designs one by one so that I could get the company off the ground with no capital. I have an amazing support system of friends, family, and amazing colleagues.

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