Today we’d like to introduce you to Susan Suarez and Angie Omata.
Susan and Angie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Susan and I met at the barre one day eight years ago. Who knew that the simple question of “Did you used to dance?” would become the premise of a friendship and the beginning of a conversation that would ultimately lead us to start a business together. Bonding over green juice obsessions, our latest activewear and workout class finds, and being work-at-home moms, we had a lot to discuss. Parking lot talks that exceeded the length of the actual workouts became an end of class ritual, and eventually, those conversations started revolving around launching a business together.
Susan and I met when we both eagerly wanted to take the next step that would allow us to be our own bosses – while giving us the ability to prioritize spending time with our small children. We were lucky to be able to make that daunting transition together. At that time, Susan had already established a social media account on Instagram – so we decided to leverage that audience. Combining our diverse skill sets and our mutual interest in boutique fitness workouts and fashion, we launched SimplyWORKOUT.com as a lifestyle blog and an e-commerce site in the summer of 2015.
Before simplyWORKOUT, Susan graduated with a degree in biology from UC Irvine. Her love of online media and “green” technology led her to create a popular blog that received TIME Magazine recognition for being one of ’25 Best Blogs of 2009’ – alongside another up and coming site, The Huffington Post. Wanting to explore other opportunities and spend more time with her family, she sold the site and turned her focus to the field of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), creating many websites, including a personal project inspiring thousands of speech therapists with additional ways to work with young children diagnosed with apraxia. She later began consulting with marketing agencies and top healthcare companies as a senior strategist. Susan is a Co-Founder and SimplyWORKOUT’s Tech and Digital Strategy Director – navigating the ins and outs of running an optimized ecommerce site, enhancing the customer buying experience while continuing to strengthen the voice and reach of our brand via search, social media, online advertising and partnerships.
I graduated with a business degree in finance and marketing from the University of Michigan. Starting my career on Wall Street, I stayed in the industry for nine years at Goldman Sachs and Macquarie Bank, and became a V.P. – focused on Product Management and Business Development. After tiring of the lifestyle, I decided to take the leap to leave my fast-paced, and stressful career behind to explore my love of fashion and other business opportunities. During that transition, I wrote for a U.K. based fashion blog, took design classes at Parsons, and helped to establish a metals export business – brokering materials to be sold and recycled overseas. Making the move from NY to sunny SoCal marked the beginning of a new chapter. I am a Co-Founder and SimplyWORKOUT’s Creative Director – focused on design of our product line, vendor and studio relationship management, buying and finances.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Being that we were a start-up, Susan and I have worn just about every hat out there to run this company and to navigate its growth. Initially, there was a steep learning curve in how to build our business – technology, design, buying, social media, operations, customer service, marketing, logistics, etc. Since the start, we have considered ourselves a “work in progress” and are continuously presented with new challenges as we grow and evolve in an increasingly saturated marketplace. It’s been a humbling and stressful process at times. We joke (but are half serious) that we live and die by each day. One week, we thrive off of strong sales and milestones that take us by surprise – for example, our write up in Us Weekly (link: https://www.usmagazine.com/shop-with-us/news/wellness-brands-treat-yourself-loving-right-now/); while the next, we wallow in a relative quiet that makes us question what we are doing wrong.
It’s an emotional journey, but we’ve tried to keep a thick skin. Susan and I relate in that we are highly intense perfectionists, oftentimes taking on more than we should. In truth, it has sometimes taken its toll on our mental and physical health, and time with our families. Learning from our mistakes, we are careful to try to keep open communication with each other to gauge where we are, in order to re-prioritize health and family to the forefront.
This past year, we have faced one of our largest hurdles thus far – continuing to scale our business without losing focus on our core audience. In an attempt to free time to prioritize business strategy initiatives and to streamline operations, we decided to outsource warehousing and fulfillment.
Unfortunately, this step ultimately wasn’t a good fit for us or our customers, and we decided to bring things back “in-house”. We are very eager to be able to take back control of all of our processes, to be able to touch and feel our products more easily, and to have the flexibility to add a level of customization and personal touch to our customers once again. Susan and I were excited to celebrate the milestone of moving into our own warehouse and office space in North County last month.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about SimplyWORKOUT – what should we know?
When we first started SimplyWORKOUT, above all else, Susan and I wanted to create a sense of community with other women like us – who value and prioritize active and healthy living. We firmly believe that exercise, food choices, your workout environment, self-care, and yes, the cute workout clothes that you have on your back, all work together to make you look and feel good.
SimplyWORKOUT’s goal is to offer quality, inspired, fitness apparel to keep the busy, modern woman fired up about her lifestyle choices – and excited enough to want to share it with her family and friends. Our core customer is fun-loving, inclusive, authentic, and not afraid to let her personality show through the clothes she wears. We love to incorporate products that are unique and whimsical – and yes, that includes sparkly mermaid leggings, and tongue-in-cheek Barre and Pilates tops that make you LOL.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Adaptation. Being a boutique site, Susan and I like having the ability of catering to what our customers want to see more (or less) of. Given that the retail landscape is ever-changing with trends that come and go, it is critical to have set goals in sight, but with a sense of flexibility. I think that keeps us on our toes in thinking forward, and keeps us excited about what’s in store for the Brand.
- Grip Socks and Accessories ranging from $12-18
- Workout Tops ranging from $24-42
- Leggings ranging from $50-98
- We offer free domestic shipping on orders over $50. Exchanges are free & returns are easy via our convenient online portal.
- Phone: 760-814-1348
- Website: SimplyWorkout.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/simplyworkout
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/simplyworkout