Carly Thornton, CEO of women's gym wear brand Gluteywear speaks to Magnet Monster about how she founded the company and her mission for empowering women.
The fitness world has changed dramatically in the last ten years.
These days, it's commonplace to see women lifting in the gym and throwing around dumbbells as frequently as men.
This has propelled extraordinary growth in gym fashionwear for women and led to giant companies like Gymshark challenging the status quo and brands like Nike & Adidas...
Gluteywear, the creation of renowned fitness guru Carly Thornton, is one of those brands clamouring for space.
In this interview, she shares her trials and tribulations that led to her creating the company and what her vision is for the future.
Magnet Monster (MM): Carly, you've been in the fitness industry long before it became mainstream. What changes have you seen over the last decade that stand out the most to you?
Carly: I have been in the industry for over 20 years now when the main information source was magazines and forums. Now this has changed massively and social media has given so many more avenues for information to be shared.
Back when I first started, fitness wasn’t that big, especially with the female audience but now it has grown massively. It's such a positive to see.
Women are becoming more empowered and realising that fitness is a great way for them to feel confident, build curves and improve a stronger mindset and body. Not only this but the health benefits that come with fitness, the endorphins, the energy increase, subtle bones, healthier skin.
Let me take you back to when I first started: the “fashion” was to have a thigh gap and to be very skinny. I myself craved this look as it was at that time, to be deemed the “look” that every woman should aim for. There was a lot of pressure to lead unhealthy ways of living to achieve this.
Fast forward to now and we are celebrating curves and women who train. Women are wanting to become more curvy and are falling in love with their bodies. It’s fantastic to see and I am here to promote the female form in every way to help other females see their true beauty. We should celebrate and be proud of our bodies as every day we wake up and our body is what keeps us alive. Its time we give it all the love it deserves.
MM: I recall from my first days in the industry that you were one of the original prominent female lifters in the UK who openly trained with weights. These days, it's commonplace to see women in the weight room across the country. What do you think triggered this seismic shift in training & attitude?
Carly: I think it has been slowly creeping up with many influential women leading a positive trend. I find these days, more people are aware of their health and would rather go to the gym on a Friday night than go clubbing. The healthy trend is spreading to socialising with friends for coffee or a smoothie, it’s absolutely fantastic!
MM: Tell us about your new company, Gluteywear. Where did the inspiration come from to enter the fashion industry?
Carly: Having the love of weight training led to many setbacks and the main one was finding any clothes that were made for women who trained.
My legs are larger than my waist so I found it hard to find bottoms that catered for this. Gym wear was a nightmare as they were either see-through, didn’t fit correctly, gave me a flat butt due to being too compressed and the wrong fabric to flatter the female form or they weren’t durable enough. Bra tops didn’t give my back enough breathing rooms so always felt uncomfortable. In all honesty, it made me very unconfident and even though I loved training, it made me feel like I shouldn’t.
I am fully aware of how clothes make you feel and when you feel comfortable and confident in clothes, it shows because you feel amazing in your own skin. Now this transmits to training. When you feel good, you want to train harder. I know when I have a cute gym outfit on, I feel amazing, I hold my posture better due to my confidence being raised and I want to train because I feel good about myself.
This was my ultimate mission from the start. To bring women who train, clothes that compliment a fitness physique and make you feel amazing like every woman deserves.
MM: Taking a look at your range of products, design and photography is stunning. However, many great business ideas can't grow off that alone. What marketing strategies have helped you gain a foothold in a saturated marketplace?
Carly: I literally do not have a strategy. I am just overly passionate about the female form and how clothes should fit and make you feel. When you are passionate about something, you work harder to bring something amazing to help others. For me it’s not about money, it’s about making other women feel amazing about themselves.
MM: What advice would you give to somebody starting out in e-commerce to grow their business, from sourcing products/a great idea to growing the company?
Carly: I would get samples for many different suppliers and test them out yourself to make sure the quality is there. Be aware that there will be a lot of failures and mistakes but these are not happening to hinder you. They are making you learn more so you can progress further.
Be prepared to not earn yourself and not let your ego get the better of you. Do you want that nice car at the start or to focus on your business and invest. Those are the questions you have to ask yourself. Be smart, not greedy.
MM: What e-commerce tools/apps have been crucial to your success in growing Gluteywear?
Carly: We use Justuno for emails and google adverts. This is something we need to progress into further as the business grows.
MM: Gluteywear has an extremely strong Instagram following. Are there any guidelines/best practices you recommend for growing an e-commerce brand on social media besides the obvious?
Carly: There are so many brands out there that you need to spend some time and be different. With this, you need to make sure your quality is on point so the consumer will purchase again and spread the word. You need to understand your target market and the age range that your brand is geared towards and with this the price bracket will also need to reflect upon this.
Influencers and events are a key driver for brand awareness and growth for any brand.
MM: Finally, what does the future look like for Gluteywear and what channels will you be focused on for growth?
Carly: We are looking to expand the range with more versatile garments for women to wear every day. My vision is to bring every fitness women all items of clothing they need to make them feel amazing all of the time.
We will also be holding events up and down the UK with different speakers inspiring, educating and motivating others.
We also have other projects that we are working on to help others with their fitness goals but I cannot say much about this as we are in the early stages of getting the workload finalised for this.
Gluteywear is a community of women helping each other and lifting each other higher. I do not see GW as a clothing brand alone, it’s a way of life, joining together to become one.