303 Triathlon Ambassador Erin Trail caught up with Coeur Founder Kebby Holden during this past weekend’s Tribella Sprint and Super Sprint Triathlon.
Coeur is a title sponsor of this event that makes fantastic women’s triathlon, running, and cycling gear.
1)What is the mission behind Coeur?
Our mission is two-fold and is at the basis for all we do:
Part 1- To make the best women’s endurance sportswear on the market. We actually use our experience and those of our team and customers to create patterns from scratch that check off all our needs and address all our female issues. We carefully select our fabrics to not only perform flawlessly but to feel awesome, comfortable and to eliminate chafing. We customize the construction of each of our performance pieces so that the fit is truly women’s specific. Not to go too overboard on the details, but by working closely with our factory in Los Angeles, there are dozens of little things we do such as
opening up leg holes to eliminate sausage link leg and, of course, developing our patent-pending seamfree
chamois (#noangrykitty). Our customers put in tons of miles every week so we need to make them
the gear they need and deserve.
Part 2 – The second part of our mission is Connection & Community. We want to give back to the sports
that have given us so much. While we like the competition inherent in racing, Coeur athletes are all
about encouraging other athletes and cheering others on. There is a lot of one up-mans-ship out there
in endurance sports but at Coeur, we really think training and racing is more fun with a bunch of friends
and newcomers on the course….no matter how fast or experienced you are. Just because you are
smokin’ fast and have done 800 Ironmans doesn’t mean you can’t be nice and encouraging! Our
Ambassador team is a huge part of this effort. They do an amazing job of encouraging women to get out
and go for a walk, a run, a ride and/or to sign up for an event. They are a resource for when any newbie
has questions. We can’t stress how important this is for us. Again, not to get too long-winded, but we
truly believe that endurance sports can be life-changing. So Coeur (as a community) wants to do
everything we can to make sure that the woman who is new to cycling, running, swimming and/or
triathlon has a positive experience. We may not be able to make that knot in a first timer’s stomach go
away, but we can encourage our ambassadors and our customers to be that friendly face on race day.
The great thing is that it really doesn’t take that much work to make a difference. If someone sees a
first timer and just says hello, smiles, and then wishes her good luck, then there’s a good chance that
she’ll come back for a second event and pass along the good ju-ju!
2)What are some challenges that you experience as a woman owned business?
Hmmm, while starting up any business is certainly a challenge, I think Coeur has been fortunate to not have had too many instances related to being a woman-owned company. Manufacturing is super resource-intensive, and managing all our fabric, chamois pads, gripper, etc. is always a juggling act
before the art and sewing even begin.
Very occasionally, I’ll get some unintended dismissive comment from men regarding running a business. Just recently when requesting an international wire transfer for our latest shipment of cycling pads, the bank manager sat me down before I had said anything and said “Oh, nice. You need to do a little
transfer? Do you run a little business out of your home?” Or getting tools and materials for our Interbike booth that I build every year, I’ve been asked by the hardware salesman if I am “making a cute little art project at home?” That attitude is frustrating but I certainly don’t take it personally. It kind of makes me more fiercely determined to do stuff!
Altogether, I have to say most industry people and customers, male and female, have been incredible
and supportive. While we are a women’s brand, we didn’t build it as some sort of angry political
platform. I just simply wanted some gear that my friends and I could train and race in that didn’t tear us
up and looked great. I love that most guys athletes totally get that. In the end, we are all just athletes
looking for the best gear to realize all the training we put in to our sport and help us execute on race
3) What challenges are unique to women athletes and what does Coeur do to help with those challenges?
Where to begin?! This question can be asked from either side: men and women’s needs for garments are often just different by necessity. Again, it isn’t political. Its just getting athletes what they need to go about their sport and realize their potential. In triathlon and cycling, I don’t think it is any surprise that they are sports that have historically catered more toward male athletes. That’s where the numbers have been but that has been changing drastically the last few years. A lot of the local retail shops we partner with often have a mostly male sales and marketing team. This can be off-putting to new female
athletes. We can be intimidated by the macho lingo and the mechanical bits. When we as Coeur, go in and extol the virtues of a “happy kitty” from our seamless chamois to these guys, things can get awkward! However, once we explain why we make our gear the way we do and how women are responding, they get it. And then we have some of our team gals organize an event for women customers at their store? They are on-board! It is just a matter of education and again, creating a community around the shop for women.
4) Picking a favorite item is like picking your favorite pet or child, but which Coeur item is your
You’re right! That is a tough one. We spend so much time designing, developing, testing, and finally
manufacturing all of our gear that it doesn’t feel fair to single one item out. That being said, I can go on
at length about our patent-pending seamless chamois in our tri-shorts! Don’t get me started! When I
was racing, I never could find shorts that didn’t chafe both from hours in the saddle and miles on the
run. So when I started Coeur, I immediately wanted to tackle this problem. Once everyone tested the
new design for the chamois, we knew we were on to something special. As endurance athletes, and
female ones to boot, we often struggle with an elegant way to discuss discomfort in “special” areas. One
of our testers said something to the effect that our shorts made her “kitty very happy,” and boom, we
were literally and figuratively off to the races! Hence our tagline for the shorts #noangrykitty. I hope you
can tell we like to have fun and have a sense of humor about things. 🙂
5) What’s next for Coeur?
Well, we’ve got a couple of really exciting things in the works. On the product front, we’ll have some
new designs coming out in late July. We’ll be doing the photo shoots in early July, so there may be a few
sneak peaks in social media. Second, we’re going to be expanding our high-performance Zele line. This
is the gear that we design for maximum aerodynamics. We use a company called ERO Sports here in
Southern California to test for wind resistance and we think the new items are going to really set the
standard for women’s performance gear.
On the Community and Connection front, we are always looking to start an event or have our team be a
resource and power for GOOD! Look for these awesome ladies in their team kits and don’t ever been
afraid, embarrassed or intimidated to ask them questions or for help.