Wellness Wednesday: The athletic apparel brand you need to know about and the exceptional woman behind it

27-year-old CEO is taking on Nike and Lululemon

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The world of athletic apparel can often feel saturated with messages like 'Just do it!' and 'Impossible is nothing.' Activewear brands touting these rather aggressive slogans can be intimidating to the non-marathoners of the world, and their loud, neon products don't always resonate with those non-marathoners either.

Enter Outdoor Voices. With the tagline, #DoingThings, the OV brand is entirely non-judgmental. It's approachable and functional and totally chic in a 'not trying too hard' kind of way.

Born in 2013 from the mind of Tyler Haney, one of the youngest and most successful designer-entrepreneurs in the industry, Outdoor Voices is a collection for real women who do athletic activities without being 'macho.'

"I grew up in Boulder where casual activities are baked into everything you do," said Haney. "Hiking became a social endeavor, biking to school or biking to get an ice cream cone. I looked at that and saw there was no real separation between your gym life and your life life. That represents how we think about activity with Outdoor Voices."

The Colorado native grew up playing every sport during a time when donning athletic apparel meant being a walking advertisement for the credo, 'HARDER BETTER FASTER STRONGER.'

"I wanted to create a brand that approaches activity differently," said Haney. "I want to continually be active on a regular basis but take the pressure away from a performance and competition standpoint."

Haney started Outdoor Voices right out of school, with five basic pieces that were classic, well-fitting and simple, all of which could function across multiple activities like pilates, biking, dog walking or jogging.

"There was a huge opportunity in the market to flip performance on its head, and that's really what Outdoor Voices is about today. Freeing fitness from performance."

And that's exactly what she did. Unsurprisingly, the OV cult following that quickly ensued was not due to support from major professional athletes like Serena Williams. Instead, celebrities like Lena Dunham and popular fashion bloggers like Leandra Medine, of Man Repeller, were the ones getting the word out.

"Our first collaboration was with Leandra," Haney said, "Because for us, we're really focused on making stuff for people who are not defined as athletes. Her [Leandra's] approach to fashion is similar to our approach on activity: we don't take ourselves too seriously and there's a lot of humor."

The brand may not take itself too seriously, but when it comes to design and functionality, Haney isn't messing around. Materials are her biggest focus as a designer, so she looks at product assortment in three pillars: tech, recreation and studio.

The tech pillar includes materials that work well in hotter climates and for more intense exercise. The recreation pillar is the category under which 90% of OV clothing falls currently, made up of compression materials that work nicely for both indoor and outdoor activity, and the studio pillar is made up of cozier, softer materials that work well in climate-controlled studio environments.

We can expect to see more coming out of the tech and studio collections in the near future, especially now that Outdoor Voices has announced a Series B round of funding -- you won't be shocked to learn that existing investors include Gwyneth Paltrow, Leandra Medine and Jean Touitou, to name a few.

So for anyone out there who likes #DoingThings, you can ditch the militant tag lines and opt for something a little more you. Although let's be real, we all just want to be like Tyler Haney.


Shop some of our favorite Outdoor Voices pieces below!

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