We catch up with Rhian Ravenscroft, Co-Founder of new women’s-only triathlon gear brand,THRĒO, who talks about the colour pink, entrepreneurialism and plans for the future.
Hi Rhian, lovely to meet you and thanks for talking to us. So, tell us in one sentence what THRĒO is?
Thanks for having us! We are very excited about the launch of 3XSport. In a nutshell, THRĒO is high performance kit for women who tri, cycle and run.
What inspired the idea to set up the THRĒO brand?
Laura and I are both triathletes and we love endurance sports. We felt there wasn’t a high quality kit brand out there making aspirational yet technical sportswear for women who take their challenges seriously but don’t want to compromise on style. We decided we had the years of experience in sport and we could make our dream kit. The other big part of what we wanted to create was a community for like-minded women across social media and at events.
Once you decided there was a gap in the market, how did you go about making the concept a reality?
We came up with a wish list for qualities and designs we would look for in clothing, attended a sportswear design course at Central St Martins, then jetted off to Italy to visit factories and turn our dreams into real items. Given that we were coming up with innovative features and breaking convention with different fabrics and cuts, we then spent nearly a year developing and testing the prototypes and putting them through their paces across all the disciplines, before we were happy with the first collection. We are now into our second season.
Do you think there is a problem in the triathlon industry in that much of the gear is designed with men in mind?
I do think that women have different needs and desires with sportswear, and given that most brands lead with their men’s range, their women’s cuts, fabrics and patterns are often left as second-best. We also found when visiting the factory that many patterns used for women’s clothing was just a scaled down version of the men’s – and given that these are therefore all based on Italian men, it simply doesn’t make sense that these will fit us. We draw, design and cut all of our patterns ourselves and we are unique in that regard as we are the only brand which focuses all its energy in meeting women’s needs.
What about the predictable pink kit that many brands seem to produce for their ‘women’s range’? Where do you stand on the ‘pink debate’?
I’m not averse to pink, what I am averse to is a lack of choice. If I go for pink, it’s because I want to on that day – not because it’s the only option available to me and because someone has taken a men’s jersey and put a splash of pink on it. We have blue, grey, aqua, yellow and coral – all bright, bold and brilliant colours, much like our customers.
Why is THRĒO different to other brands which cater for female triathletes/cyclists/runners?
THRĒO is designed by female triathletes, for female triathletes. We like to think we know what bothers you about existing kit, and we know how to fix it. We also know that you can be someone who loves to be outside training every day and still care about looking good. The two are not mutually exclusive.
What do you think the biggest requirement is for women’s tri gear?
Fit and fabric are the two key factors. Reduction of movement and chafing is essential for comfort over long distance racing and training and every item of ours is designed with this in mind. We felt women were being short changed with the quality of fabric in existing range and we wanted to create kit which is a flattering cut and helps to make women feel good about themselves. Quiet confidence is a formidable attribute on race day.
How do you think the industry needs to help better support women in the sport?
I actually think triathlon as a sport, and those within it, are incredibly encouraging and supportive of women (and in fact, of anyone who decides to enter one).
Men and women racing across equal distances helps, as men are often beaten by women on the same course and they are (on the whole) incredibly respectful and understanding of the fact that the same amount of training goes into it, whoever you are.
We are also lucky to have some of the most successful women in the world in British triathlon, from the impressive Olympians to those smashing it out of the park in the ironman distances. They are blazing a trail for the rest of us to follow, and showing that with commitment and training – anything is possible. And that applies to either gender.
What are the next big plans for THRĒO?
We want to be the number one brand for female endurance sport. In the short term we are focusing on our next range, bringing out additional items and developing a range of winter kit.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in becoming an entrepreneur and business owner?
To always, always remember why we are doing this. We genuinely want to make a difference in women’s sport and that’s an important thing to remember in the long hours and early mornings.
If marketing budget were no object, what one thing would you do to get the THRĒO brand out there with maximum impact?
We already host various events for our community, so we would love to extend these free activities to women all over the UK to either introduce them to triathlon or help hone their skills in a friendly and encouraging environment. There is nothing we love more than getting out, meeting women and introducing them to THRĒO.
And finally, if you weren’t spending what we suspect a large amount of your time developing THRĒO, what would you be doing?
Training and racing, two of my favourite things!
Find out more about THRĒO at www.threo.co.uk.