Meet Virginia Fabricius, Founder and Designer behind Akrovita
When I launched fitoutfit.com, the BEHIND the BRAND Interview series was just a small part of a bigger plan for the website. Much to my surprise, the BEHIND the BRAND Interview series has become the most important part, but I still wonder if it's something I should continue doing. So when I got a message from Virginia praising the series and asking to be featured, it reinforced why the series should continue.
So when Virginia invited me to tour one of her Los Angeles production factories I immediately took her up on her offer and got a true behind the scenes look at not just the person, but the actual production of an active wear line! It was an eye opening experience and am truly grateful for the opportunity.
Virginia is sharing her BEHIND the BRAND story of how a need for a multipurpose active wear birthed what is now one of the hottest brands known as Akrovita!
Name & Role
Virginia Fabricius - Founder and Designer behind Akrovita
What is Akrovita and what inspired you to start this line?
When I was living and working in NYC I was frustrated that there were no clothes that I could wear to the office and look put together before heading straight to the gym! I heard all this talk about athleisure and thought to myself "That's great, but how come all of these have crazy prints?!" "I can't wear that to work!"
I wanted, no, needed clothes that were clean-cut, feminine yet edgy, urban, and generally "looked like normal clothes" that would take me straight from the office to my favorite workout classes and then to happy hour without the pain of lugging around a gym bag all day long! I wanted clothes where all I had to do was take my heels off and go.
What's a typical day in life like at Akrovita?
Being an entrepreneur means wearing thirty different hats at the same time and no two days are the same! One day you might attend a trade show, another day you might be busy answering calls and emails and doing "business stuff" while the next week you could live inside a factory to manage production or do quality control. Sometimes you make this awesome plan for the day and you end up doing something completely different!
What's been your biggest successes thus far?
Creating products that people actually love. If someone tags me on Instagram or sends me an email with the subject: "I love my new stuff!!!" I feel really accomplished, content, and could (or do?) burst into tears of joy!
Moreover: I also consider it a success every time someone looks at me (while I'm wearing Akrovita) and says "oh that's active wear? I didn't even notice!" - then I know I did my job right and lived up to my mission: creating workout wear for every day life!
Conversely, biggest failure?
In our first production run we were haunted by a string of bad luck and I feel like everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong!
I cried every day and I was so close to giving up! I'm really glad I didn't just accept defeat but went on to search for new, trustworthy factories and I love the people we work with now!
Top three things you wish you knew when you first started
Women have an obsession with waistbands. If the waistband isn't right they won't buy it.
How important marketing is: Having a great product alone won't cut it, you need REALLY awesome images to get a message across.
Be very, VERY nice to your factories and sewers. Finding a good factory is like winning the lottery!!! Also, if a factory doesn't want to produce a style, ask them why and consider redesigning it instead of just changing factories. They usually know their stuff and chances are, the design is way too complicated and will give you (and them!) lots and lots of headache throughout the production process, lots of delays, and in worst case you'll cut up your fabric and it never gets done!
Top three tools/apps/technology you can't live without
- Adobe Illustrator
Who's your professional crush & why?
Oh my gosh, I'm absolutely in love with Grace Coddington. She's such a wonderful, creative, and down to earth person and I admire her ability to take you on a journey to another world through her images. She's absolutely wonderful.
Since launching Akrovita what's been the biggest surprise or something you didn't expect?
Every day seems to be full of surprises. When you're an entrepreneur there are practically no rules and you can spend your time and money doing whatever you think is right. Many people become self-employed because the freedom of being your own boss is very appealing to them. One thing I wasn't prepared for is the amount of risk and uncertainty a completely unregulated environment can give you! There are no routines, no best practices, or go-to approaches for dealing with "stuff." If you don't know the answer to a question there is no one you can ask or who has done this before. I was definitely surprised about the amount of uncertainty and the blips of anxiety that this freedom can give you buy eventually I got used to it and it has become part of my everyday life! Now I've learned to appreciate it!
What advice would you give to aspiring active wear designers or fitness entrepreneurs?
Before you launch you should do a lot of research: go into stores, try on EVERYTHING and ask the sales people tons and tons of questions. Go online and find out where the big brands get their fabrics. Their trims. Their factories. Visit the Sourcing section at the Magic show in Las Vegas, talk to every single booth and have them explain you what they do, why they do that, for whom they do that. Don't ever be scared to ask questions, especially when you pose them to your suppliers: most of the people I work with and source from were already been in fashion when I was still in kindergarden. They know their business and they've seen it all. Don't just assume that you have a lot of experience! Be humble, be diligent, do your homework, and show your appreciation for their knowledge and they'll be happy to teach you everything you need to know!
Akrovita launched last year and quickly established a dedicated fan base & has been featured in publications, so what can people expect for the rest of 2016?
I'm in the process of extending our product range and creating a more refined, edgy look. We're also in the process of building out our marketing and creating a few video campaigns that I hope will help to separate us more from our competitors!
Extra credit: Who or what inspires you?
Architecture, strong women, and beautiful photography!
On another note: a trip to our suppliers or a look into our factories here in San Francisco is incredibly inspiring to me as well! Those ladies are so skilled and so incredibly hard working, I always feel inspired to do more and try harder, every time I see them!
I'm really digging the Sexy Back Bras, but am in LOVE with Akrovita's Under Cover Jacket!!! Can't wait to see what Virginia comes up with for the next collection.
What's your favorite Akrovita piece? Share in the comments below!