"No matter what you do, your job is to tell your story" - Gary Vaynercuhk.
Welcome to our first blog post 🤗
Today we’ll be talking about how Sassaba got started. Although Sassaba has only been online for around 4 months (still a baby), this idea has been swirling around in my mind for well over a year.
I have been an avid gym go-er for years. As like most young women, at 24 when my boyfriend at the time (who is now my husband - funny story for a later date) broke up with me, the motivation was stronger than ever to get in shape.
"I'm going to loose some weight, look hot and make him regret breaking up with me". INSERT every other thing you tell yourself in this situation to get motivated to get to the gym. At that time, i was working a full time job in North Sydney and commuting over an hour each day to and from work. SO that left the early mornings for the workouts to happen. 4AM Monday through Friday i was at the gym, lifting heavy weights and working towards my goal. Fast forward 3 months later, I'd lost 10 KG (make no mistake though, it was probably because of the 1100 calorie diet including ZERO carbs that got me there) and met up with him to have coffee. Needless to say it worked 🤪
I am also a really big online shopper. Why would you go to the shops and deal with other humans (hands up all my introverts?!) when you could stay on your couch and buy it online?. Now one thing i noticed was that most fitness wear brands only offered up to size large. I purchased a large from one brand in particular, just to see what the sizing was like. When i got them in the mail, they fit... JUST! And this was at a time when i was on the lighter side. (Side note - my weight fluctuates pretty regularly. SNACKS - am i right?) But I continued to wear them because I loved them.
Then that same company decided to release a new collection. I absolutely fell in love with the colours. So I bought a large not realising that they had changed their sizing ratios. Once i received them in the mail, and could barely squeeze into them, I watched a lot of YouTube video reviews saying that they had gone down with their sizings. Needless to say i was bummed. I am a big believer in being comfortable when you workout, and if you feel good in them too, win win right?
I started to think how great it would be if there was a company that offered everything I was looking for in fitness wear, for all sizes. After doing some research, i could only find a few out there. Just for fun i started to research clothing manufacturers and what they offered.
For those of you who don't know, a lot of the companies that you buy from, if not most of them, get their items made in China. Now, there's a negative stigma that a lot of people have with this. I have been caught out before with those Instagram advertisements. You know what i'm talking about, the photo looks really good, the models look amazing in the clothing. But then you order, and what you get it in your hand is a completely different thing to what you see online. So I started doing a lot of research contacting manufacturers over in China. I spent a good chunk of money and a decent amount of time (probably about 8 months) getting samples from different manufacturers to see the quality. To wear them, work out in them, run in them, to see how they were going to hold up. The quality vs the price. What they were advertising on their listings vs. what you're actually getting in your hand.
I learned pretty quickly that you have to take the time to sift through all the manufacturers that are online. Some of them while they give you a good price, the quality the product is obviously not there. I then came across a really good manufacturer. Quality clothing, great customer service, the whole package.
I had to them sit down and realistically think about the idea. The fitness industry as a whole, is a very saturated market. People on instagram who are qualified personal trainers, very fit and pretty, have a great following, offering meal plans/workout plans or something along those lines. I absolutely have nothing against them, i love that they've found a way to help people and earn a living.
The biggest problem I was facing is that the fitness wear market was even more saturated so I was hesitant to dive in. My thought process was this - "how am I going to compete with the bigger companies?". I'm not even talking about Nike and Lorna Jane, those big international companies that have been around for years. I'm talking about the small to medium sized businesses, local and international. There are a lot of them out there that are doing very well. So i was concerned about not having any prior experience in this industry, I worked in real estate for 10 years for heaven's sake!
I then started to think, how do i make this company different from all the others? Sitting on this thought for a while, and putting together everything i'd already come up with, i came to this. For me it was about offering a community, something other than 'buy our stuff'. Offering motivation, positivity and inclusivity. Inclusivity was the biggest one for me. I don't consider myself plus size. I'm a little bit rounder on the edges, yeah for sure, but the fact that I couldn't (at my size) get activewear that was fashionable ,good looking and made you feel good annoyed me.
There are a hell of a lot of women out there my size, and larger. To be made to feel that we don't fit in to a certain brands aesthetic because you're too big isn't a nice feeling. So we're left with stuff from cheaper companies that is not great quality and I think for me that was the biggest turning point realising that it doesn't matter your size and what your goal is, whether you're happy with your size but you work out, or you're starting your fitness Journey where you want to lose weight and you want to tone up or somewhere in between you shouldn't have to wear clothing that is average just because you don't fit into anything between an (Australian size) 6 to 12. FYI - The average size of women in Australia are a size 14.
After that, I did a lot of research. On the competitors. From a price standpoint, what they were offering, the sizes, everything. I spent a lot of hours researching on the computer, on my phone, waking up in the middle of night having ideas. Now, for anyone who knows me, you'll already know this about me. For people who don't, I am, by nature, a sloth. I always have been, I probably always will be. If you give me the option of going out for a day, exploring, walking, driving around, I'm not about that life! The option that I will always choose is sitting on the couch watching Netflix.
So for me to have the drive to create something like this was a really big deal! I also deal with self doubt, and at this stage it was my biggest hurdle. I know everyone deals with it in some form. That self-doubt was being fuelled constantly, every idea that have a popped into my head or every thought process I ever had about possibly creating this company was shot down by my own self doubt. So it took me a while to get a handle on that. On the flip side though, my husband is my biggest cheerleader. So when i voice an opinion to him, and have a conversation with myself essentially to get the though process out of my head, he's always the one to tell me "trust your instinct. If you think its a good idea, go for it!". So i've learnt to do just that, although i'm still learning to trust myself.
So when I decided "my gut" was telling me the right thing, we went ahead and mad our first purchase with the manufacturer. It kind of just snow balled from there. I had to then think about the finer details. Logistics, pricing, building the website, social media accounts, marketing etc.
Fast forward 11 months later, the website was launched.
4 months from the launch date, here we are. The original plan that I had for Sassaba vs what it is now, hasn't changed that much. But it will evolve over time. I am adamant on one thing - to stick to my original plan of offering comfortable, fashionable workout wear for women of all sizes. We want to offer more than just fitness wear, but to offer positivity and inclusivity. We want to remind woman to be unapologetically themselves. It doesn't matter your size, shape, colour of your skin, where you are in your journey. Just be yourself, and be happy with where you are, be comfortable in your own skin.
Because you're amazing as you are 💗
Until next time my loves ...