Meet Anjni Singh - Founder and Designer of Kali Active
About five years ago, I decided I wanted to try my hand at boxing for a new workout. Though I almost (literally) passed out during my first class, I immediately decided I loved it and couldn't wait to get back to! So imagine my surprise when I go to the sporting goods store to buy boxing gloves, my only options were black, white or pink (ugh!). White was the obvious choice because everyone had boring black gloves and I'm definitely not the girl who loves pink and I wanted to be different. Fast forward five years later and I'm at a Six:02 fashion show and see a model wearing these fancy hand wraps. I HAVE to get a pair!
Turns out the designer Anjni Singh is sitting next to me and not only does she design these dope hand wraps, but her apparel line is just as dope and a refreshing departure from everything else on the market right now. Kali Active had just launched so it was a no-brainer to include them in this series.
Anjni Singh is sharing her Behind the Brand story of how a lack of options translated into the birth of Kali Active and a waiting list for her most popular item!
Name & Role
Founder and Designer for Kali Active
What is Kali Active and what inspired you to start it?
Kali Active is a women's activewear brand inspired by intense workouts such as boxing, kickboxing, martial arts and spin. A brand that brings style, function and a whole lot of attitude to the sportswear industry. I'd just moved from NY to LA after years of designing for other companies and noticed there was abundance of ultra feminine fitness brands marketing to the same type of woman. I wanted to bring some needed diversity and an edgier perspective to this market. As I was creating the apparel line, I'd gotten back into boxing and noticed that there was a serious lack of product options for women who were into these type of workouts. I was sick of seeing pink or plain gloves and wraps as my options so I decided to design a brand around catering to the badass woman. Women are natural born fighters so I wanted to market and build a positive message around that.
What's a day in the life like at Kali Active?
Typically I wake up and drink plenty of water first thing and prep for the day with coffee in hand. The day consists of anything from planning photo shoots, working on production, designing and prototyping, to making website and blog updates. I spend a lot of time in front of the computer so I make sure to get my workouts in to get my mind right. I love visiting various gyms and interacting with different trainers because it's a great way for me to field test our products and get their professional feedback.
What's been your biggest success thus far?
I’m one of those people who is really hard on themselves so I don’t really look at things as “success” but more of a process. If I had to pick though, it was winning the Nordstrom x Rebecca Minkoff nationwide design contest in 2013, because it was a boost of confidence for me at the time to get out of a career rut I was experiencing.
Conversely, biggest failure(s)?
As far as failures I’ve had a few set backs and look at both as just one big continuous timeline of growth and change. I look at staying at said career rut for too long as a failure. If something doesn’t feel right professionally than start making an exit strategy.
Top three things you wish you knew when you first started:
1. Listen to your gut and not what others think you should be working on.
2. Start with and nurture the strongest idea before you over extend yourself to other things.
3. Plan out your resources and time to the best of your ability.
Top three tools/apps/technology you can't live without:
1. Google everything
2. Adobe everything
3. Pen and Paper (I keep 2 small notebooks with me at all times)
Who's your professional crush & why?
I’m obsessed with Gary Vaynerchuk at the moment. I love his outlook and passion for startup and entrepreaunerial culture. I watch his videos religiously because he’s really motivating and relatable. He doesn’t glamourize the startup life but really tells it like is. I do my best to try to follow his advice. His videos are what I turn to when I need a virtual slap in the face to keep hustling.
Since launching Kali Active what's been the biggest surprise?
I think the biggest surprise has been how people have reacted to our products, especially our boxing hand wraps. We knew we had something special but really didn’t think they were going to get the reaction that they have. It’s such a fun but essential product and it’s crazy that we have a waitlist for them now! We are one of the only activewear companies that has addressed women who are into boxing and kickboxing in a fun and stylish way and to see people embracing that has been a thrill.
What advice would you give to aspiring active wear designers or fitness entrepreneurs?
I’m not the best at giving advice because I don’t feel like I have it all figured out but then again who does so I’ll share what I know. Do something and take a risk with something others are not typically doing. There is a lot of saturation in certain categories of fitness so take the time to make sure you have a distinct voice or message. My motto is “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!” Gaining some experience is key too. I have been designing for years now but I still feel like I have a lot to learn. More importantly the one piece of advice I try to live by: “Stop focusing on dumb shit and keep moving!" -Gary V.
Kali Active launched last year and quickly became a fan favorite so what can people expect in 2016?
We are going to try to be hustling a lot harder than we were. I think our first year it was just about getting started and finding our turf to plant our flag on. We continue to work hard on establishing the brand any way we can. We are announcing our first set of boxing gloves to go along with our hand wraps, and also plan to introduce more apparel. We are going to strive to plan on some collaborations and getting aligned with retailers. The team and I are going to work on trying to do more pop-ups with studios and gyms. I’m also going to get in front of the brand more because I keep getting asked for more behind the scenes and what goes into the process. This will be the toughest because I’m pretty camera shy.
Extra credit: What's your source of motivation?
My source of motivation is our followers. I love interacting and getting to know them, even if it is through their social media feeds! I rely on them for their input and how motivated they are in their own fitness journey. Our followers are the best! I appreciate them!-said in my best DJ Khaled voice.
Have you tried the Kali Active hand wraps yet? Who else is super excited to check out Kali Active's new boxing gloves?
Share in the comments below!