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Meet Cynthia Blais Jensen of Funktional Wearables

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cynthia Blais Jensen.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Cynthia. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
I teach Zumba classes for 24 Hour Fitness. It is just a fun little side job that doesn’t make much money but I absolutely love it, plus it’s great as it forces me to get to the gym. I don’t think I would have come up for the idea of Funktional Wearables if I had not been teaching Zumba.

When I first started seeing all these people in my classes wearing fitness trackers I kind of pooh-poohed the idea of getting one for myself- I figured I already knew much more about fitness than most people and that I was in good shape already. I distinctly remember one conversation I had though with a woman from my Zumba class, she had recently lost a bunch of weight and looked incredible. She told me that buying a Fitbit had changed her life and she had never been more healthy than she was right then, in her mid-fifties.

That lady deserved a commission because my curiosity was definitely piqued and sure enough I soon decided it would be worth the $100 to give it a try. I bought a Fitbit Flex, the most popular model at that time. Even though I didn’t go through any dramatic physical transformation from using it, it helped me improve my awareness of what I was eating, how much activity I was getting, how I was sleeping, etc. I enjoyed having competitions with my friends and family to see who could get the most steps in a day.

I admit I got a little carried away sometimes and if I was close to meeting my step goal but not quite there before bedtime, I would just run around inside my house like a crazy person until finally the band buzzed and lit up signifying I had met my step goal. So basically I loved everything about my Fitbit except for how it looked- the thick black rubber wristband looked out of place when worn with a nice dress or business suit. Since I have always made jewelry as a hobby, I started to experiment with ways to make my Fitbit look better, and that’s how Funktional Wearables was born!  To get the maximum health and fitness benefits from your Fitbit it should be worn nearly 24/7, so the purpose of Funktional Wearables was to empower women by giving them a way to wear their tracker in any setting; at the office, out on a fancy date, wherever- and always still feel fashionable.  Funktional Wearables also gives people a way to express themselves by personalizing the look of their tracker, and an additional benefit is that most of our pieces protect the Fitbit too making them less likely to get scratched, damaged, lost, etc.

So I started to get serious about the company after I posted my first few products on Etsy, back in June of 2014. I had about five employees working for me at the time for the first business I started, Global Z Fitness, an online fitness apparel store. I started to shift everyone’s focus gradually over to Funktional Wearables as I saw greater potential there. I was lucky, I was one of the very first to come out with accessories for fitness trackers, and I had more demand than I could even keep up with at first, even though I nearly doubled my staff.

Tory Burch Fitbit bracelets came out shortly after ours, and that was great for our business, as we were shown as being a comparable but much more affordable alternative to her line. So we got tons of great press, for free, including being shown on Good Morning America as one of the four hottest tech-savvy fitness wear companies for 2015. I was amazed as multiple major retailers like Kohls and Telus (based in Canada) approached me, wanting Funktional Wearables in their stores.  We were suuuuper close to making it onto the Shark Tank show too.

As the company grew and got more successful, I began collaborating with local engineers and manufacturers, and my products got more sophisticated. Today Funktional Wearables makes products to enhance and protect all types of activity trackers, as well as Apple Watch bands, and we are in boutiques across the country, as well as on websites such as OpenSky, Overstock, Boscovs, and Bed Bath and Beyond, just to name a few.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has not exactly been a smooth road.

I feel like there have been quite a few bumps and roadblocks along the way… Issues communicating and negotiating with manufacturers abroad, troubles applying for trademarks and patents, maintaining quality control, finding and keeping good employees, struggles with inventory planning, creating new designs every time a new models of Fitbit comes out, appeasing the occasional nightmare customer…

I could literally talk for weeks about the challenges I have faced running this business the past four years! One challenge that I definitely never expected to deal with is counterfeit Funktional Wearables- I thought people would only bother counterfeiting well known and very expensive brands! I will say it is a little flattering. 😉  To make sure your Funktional Wearables is definitely the real deal, buy it off of our website or via one of our authorized retailers!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Funktional Wearables story. Tell us more about the business.
We have quite a laid-back vibe at the Funktional Wearables office. I bring one of my dogs to work with me most days, and we all dress very casually. I try to give my employees as much flexibility as I can- they get to choose their own hours, work from home when they feel like it, etc. Every day, there is lots of laughter.

The company provides exceptional customer service- we will pretty much do whatever it takes to make sure the customer is happy. A couple things that set us apart from our competitors is that nearly all of our products are at least partially made by hand in the USA and that we give a portion of our sales every month to the Best Friends Animal Society.  Giving back is really important to me.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
In the past few years, I have seen remarkable growth and improvements in the wearables technology industry. In regards to wristband activity tracking devices specifically, they have gotten sleeker, have better battery lives, and most are at least water resistant if not waterproof.

I expect continued improvement in all those areas, and I also expect mental health monitoring and nurturing to become a big focus. The link between mental and physical health is so critical, and I am excited to see if trackers will be able to truly help people improve their mindsets as well as their bodies. Fingers crossed!

Pricing:

  • Almost all pieces under $50

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