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Monday, June 8, 2015

Launched! Instagram yogipreneur heats up activewear market

Kids Legging in Alexis Stripe. Courtesy K-Deer
Organic is one way to describe K-Deer's Instagram business success story. 

In 2008, founder and designer, Kristine Deer first connected with yoga during a down time, post-college.

“I’d graduated design school, had left my job and was freelancing in New York. Bikram yoga became a way for me to do something just for me," says Deer, who later achieved a yoga... teaching certification in the Barkan method.

Kids Tank Top in Alexis Stripe. Courtesy K-Deer
At the time, Deer’s sister was designing bathing suits, and brought home some fabric to play with.
“It was made to get wet with sweat in and didn’t fray,” says Deer, who designed her first and signature  product, the “Bum Bum” short-short, as a result.
Donning her new bottoms during Bikram, “I started to accept my body, which wasn’t in the shape I’d felt it should have been in. While looking in the mirror, my confidence changed. I was pretty brave and hot,” says Deer.
Through Facebook, Deer posted pictures of her new line and generated interest within her community of friends very naturally. A friend introduced her to a yogi with a huge Instagram following, who in turn uploaded shots of herself in “Bum Bums.”
“Overnight, we sold 800 pairs of shorts,” says Deer. “It was neat to see how supportive the community was through social media.”
Now with 44,000 of her own Instagram fans, “We have a very authentic following,” says Deer. “I’m gentle in my approach. I’m not forcing you to follow me, which has translated in to a dedicated and loyal customer base.”

Kids Shorts in Alexis Stripe. Courtesy K-Deer
K-Deer’s active wear collection has expanded to include High Impact, Leggings, Tops, Capris, Mens, Swag and Kids clothing.
Her five-year-old niece inspired the youth mini-me sizes, which range from 3T to 14/16 (extra large).
“She’d come in to my office and ask me to make her a pair of our leggings,” says Deer. “We’ve adapted the components of our adult collection to the shape and proportion of children.”
The strength of the K-Deer brand is in its fun, vibrant prints, which are as thoughtfully named as they are manufactured.  From “Popstar” and “Punk Rock Stripe” to “Disco Dot,”  “Our customers can express themselves. The beauty of the collection is that the prints are flattering, allow them to come out of their shell and feel good about being seen for their choice,” says Deer.
The three-year-old, privately-held company now employees six, including Deer’s sister, who serves as creative director and Deer, herself. Sales have grown by 200-300 percent each year, and the company continues to print and manufacture domestically.
To stay on trend, Deer looks toward higher fashion. This spring, “There was a movement toward Soho Festival, and a 60’s-70’s revival. With names like “Summer of Love,” “Indigo Girl” and “Lucy in the Sky,” “Our prints give a bit of a modern take on that era,” says Deer.
For aspiring online entrepreneurs, Deer says, “Be patient. It takes time to notice and make a connection to you. Be able to share your story, and why you’re doing what you’re doing. Share that your heart is in it.”
As for rejection, “Not everyone will love it. As long as you do, you’ll reach an audience if you keep trying,” says Deer, who recommends that every woman creates a business.
“I didn’t expect at age twenty-four to be applying for an LLC. I highly promote going to school, but you have to learn by doing. There are so many life skills that you can’t learn in the books. Trust your gut. Don’t take huge risks, but enough to follow your dreams – there’s no reason not to,” says Deer.




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