Meet the Sisters, Mompreneurs behind “The Butter Leggings”

Maria Kusar

Posted on March 26 2019

Meet the Sisters, Mompreneurs behind “The Butter Leggings”

 Author: Danielle Price 

https://www.shesfun.me/style/vitaatletica

IF YOu LIVE IN THE SOUTH BAY, THERE IS A UNIFORM. ACTIVEWear OR BUST, BABY.

  • There are the Lululemons you wear to brunch with your most expensive tote bag and a fresh blow out.

  • The Lululemons you actually work out in (aka the one’s that stay in place and let you get ’er done).

  • And the “bottom of the barrel” Lulus – the old ones in the weird color you immediately regretted with the tiny hole in the crotch that you only wear when you’re v desperate.

I say Lulus, but within the past few years the Canadian grandaddy of butt-lifting black spandex has been challenged by competitors large and small with their own take on athleisure style.

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ENTER STAGE RIGHT – VITA ATLETICA

These two moms who were born and raised in our very own patch of paradise added Athleisure Mompreneur to their repertoire this past December. They believe that being active or athletic doesn’t look just one way. With so many shapes and sizes that constitute an athletic woman’s lifestyle, they wanted to create pieces that fit whatever your lifestyle is. So they put everything they had into their brand at the beginning of 2018 and as of this past December have leggings and sets for sale!

Hope you enjoy getting to know these incredible women through this interview as much as I did.

XO,

D!

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(And yes… their leggings really do feel like butter).

Q: YOU TWO ARE SO CLOSE THAT YOU CALL EACH OTHER SISTERS. WHEN DID YOU TWO MEET AND HOW DID THIS RELATIONSHIP ALL BEGIN?

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Maria: We were a year apart in high school. I began dating Aimee’s brother Jason when I was in the tenth grade and he was a senior. He was my high school sweetheart. Aimee and I would steal her brother’s truck and take it for joyrides in the neighborhood. We were practicing how to drive stick shift. He loved that! Ha. Ha.

We used drive up and down the big, open streets where Marineland used to be in the Palos Verdes Peninsula. It’s now Terranea Resort. We basically have all grown up together from the time we were teenagers. Fast forward to today, Jason and I will celebrate 21 years of being married and Aimee and I being sisters-in-law. Geez-that’s half my life knowing her!

I consider her my second sister, not an “in-law. That’s not to say, we haven’t had ups and downs, heartache, joy and sadness and everything in between. But through it all we have remained close, even more so with becoming mothers and raising children.

We started our brand in the beginning of 2018 and officially launched this past December. I had been a stay at home mom for about 11 years and then taught junior high English for a few years while my children were in grade school. During that time, Aimee was a single corporate woman, working as a court reporter. She has since transitioned to being a wife and mother with 3 children, two of which are little boys ages 2 and 3. Needless to say, they keep her busy and on her toes! She runs on little to no sleep on the daily!

Q: WHO INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE VITA ATLETICA & HOW DID IT ALL GET STARTED?

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My parents were immigrants from Italy. My mother received her training in a European tailor shop, and also worked in a textile factory before getting married and coming to the United States. Growing up with a mother who was a seamstress, I was always around different fabrics and threads and loved playing with her leftover scraps of material, making barbie clothes.

It was over a bottle (or two) of wine one night, my husband commented or rather teased us saying,

“Do you girls wear anything other than leggings and workout pants every day?”

In perfect unison we both answered with an empahtic “No!” both of us grinning and laughing (I think I even snorted because it was true we “LIVE” in our leggings!) That opened up the conversation about what we liked and didn’t like with respects to current activewear/workout pants/leggings. The rest was history.

Q: WHAT ARE YOUR MANTRAS/WORDS TO LIVE BY? ANY QUOTES OR ROOT BELIEFS THAT GET YOU THROUGH ROUGH DAYS OR DOUBT?

BE FIERCE. BE STRONG.

BE CONFIDENT. BE KIND. BE YOU.

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Women have the power to promote positivity and self-love within each other. We need to lift each other up and practice kindness towards one another. We wanted our logo to be a symbol of strength, unity and beauty in all who proudly wear our products.

In Italian, we say Sempre Famiglia, which means Family Forever. Vita Atletica is a family business, and the women who wear our products are considered to be a part of our growing family.

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Q: WHO WAS THERE TO ADVISE/LEAD THE WAY TO CREATING VITA ATLETICA?

We pretty much have been self-teaching ourselves along the way. We bounce ideas off each other and have tried to immerse ourselves in research and reading articles on the fashion industry and other successful entrepreneurs.

You can do anything if you set your mind to it and dedicate yourself to using that Google search bar.

Q: WITH LOTS OF POPULAR ATHLETIC BRANDS IN EXISTENCE, WHY DID YOU WANT TO CREATE A BRAND?

We wanted to be a part of this movement and growing trend of activewear as a lifestyle. It is one, if not, the largest growing markets in the fashion industry. According to Market Watch, statistics are showing that the global activewear market size is expected to reach $567 billion by 2024. This industry is changing fashion as we know it and we wanted to be a part of it.  

We wanted to create our line using top quality materials and designs, while incorporating the aspects that were important to us. We wanted fashionable pieces that could transition from the gym or pilates studio to everyday life.

Our collection has pieces that can be mixed and matched with clothing you already have as well as within our exclusive collection which can only be purchased through our website and in-person at our pop-up shop events. Another important aspect was to produce high quality materials at an affordable price, and to have people fall in love with not only our brand but the family behind it.

The Giulia High-Waist Yoga Pant is probably our most comfortable, “like butter” legging. The material blend make it super soft, yet it holds you in and accentuates your curves while providing support. You honestly will wear them all day!

Q: WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT VITA ATLETICA WHEN COMPARED TO THE LULULEMONS AND NIKES OF THE WORLD?

We are a self-funded “mom and pop” company, currently without any investors. Literally, all of our eggs are in this basket.

When you contact us, it is the owners you are dealing with. And providing excellent customer service has always been one of our top values. Financing has always been our challenge from the start. Each decision we make, as a team, has to keep our budget in mind, which at times causes stress and frustration. The creativity and ideas are there, but the budget financial constraints make it difficult sometimes to pursue certain directions we want to expand the business.

However, it has also been a blessing of sorts in that we really have had to do everything meticulously and make every decision with limited mistakes and for the best interest of the brand. When mistakes are made, which is how you grow and learn, we need to catch and rectify them as fast as possible. So, I guess financing has been our biggest constrictor and best educator at the same time.

Q: WHAT ARE EACH OF YOUR ROLES IN THE COMPANY? DO YOU HAVE DIFFERENT STRENGTHS?

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We definitely combine our strengths together which makes us unique in our direction. We are family, so sometimes business meetings happen over Sunday dinner at home, in between family time. Sometimes it isn’t pretty and can be a little messy, but that’s also what keeps it exciting and gives us the hope and drive for what possibilities lie ahead.

We make a great team! Collectively, we share the roles of product developer, designer, and stylists. Being a family-run small business means we wear many hats and share roles!

Q: WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE THAT YOU HAVE FACED THUS FAR IN BUSINESS?

For Aimee it has been transitioning from a corporate business woman to a stay at home mom, returning to freelancing as a court-reporter part-time, and now having to make the difficult sacrifices required for a new start-up all while juggling childcare for little ones which leaves her always feeling like she is running on empty and chasing her tail.

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For Maria it has been entering the fashion industry without a background in fashion and learning as we go.

A big challenge has also been learning to love myself and feel comfortable in my own skin as I stand and sell not only our beautiful clothing, but myself as part of a brand. I am not a size 2 and never will be. I have struggled with my weight and self-confidence for years.

Aimee, on the other hand, has always had great figure since I’ve known her! That’s not to say she doesn’t have her own insecurities or body flaws that bug her-- we all do!! Which is why we wholeheartedly believe in our mantra - Be Fierce. Be Strong. Be Confident. Be Kind. Be You.

Q: IN TERMS OF TIMELINE – HOW LONG WAS IT FROM WHEN YOU TWO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT TO THE TIME YOU HAD YOUR PRODUCT IN HAND/WERE SELLING YOUR LINE?

It took about a year from concept to physically having our products in hand ready to sell.

Q: THE TERM “GIRL BOSS” IS VERY TRENDY THESE DAYS. EVERYONE WANTS TO BE A GIRL BOSS, BUT AS WOMEN WHO WALK THE TALK – WHAT IS THE REALISM BEHIND BEING WOMEN IN BUSINESS, MOMS, AND CREATIVES? IS THERE SOMETHING THAT HAS HAPPENED THAT YOU NEVER EXPECTED OR PEOPLE NEVER TOLD YOU ABOUT?

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The reality for us as women in business is that everyday is different and you never feel like you are accomplishing everything on your to-do list.

And as mothers, we tend to try to do it all; from taking care of the home, running a business, raising children, being involved and present for their activities, making sure our kids are eating healthy, home-cooked dinners, fitting in our time for exercise and taking care of ourselves, both mentally and physically.

While it’s exciting to have your own business and dream of the possibilities of success, the realities are that the stress of all of it lies on your shoulders and you can’t just walk away and turn it off. You make lots of sacrifices and are always questioning if you are making the right decisions.

Q: WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT BEING THE OWNER OF A CLOTHING LINE/BEING A PART OF THE FASHION INDUSTRY?

I would say the hardest part of being in the fashion industry and owning our own company is being an outsider and trying to break into a market that is fast-paced and established. Also being small fish in a very large ocean.

Q: A LA OPRAH – WHAT’S ONE THING YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT (COULD BE A BEAUTY PRODUCT, KITCHEN ITEM, WHATEVER REALLY GETS YOU FIRED UP THESE DAYS!)

Ok don’t laugh...right now Aimee’s in love with her Nespresso coffee maker for obvious reasons #tiredworkingmama!! I’m in love with our new business van- Mercedes Cargo Van. It has been such a blessing to be able to load it up and be mobile with our store. I love driving it everywhere! I look forward to each adventure in it a have so many laughs and have almost peed our pants. We are really like Lucy and Ethel at times! We should really name her [the van]! Oh my gosh I got it!! VITA !! which means “LIFE” in Italian

Q: WHERE IS VITA ATLETICA AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE? (JUST ON YOUR SITE OR ANY LOCAL BOUTIQUES AS WELL?)

Vita Atletica is sold exclusively online through our website and pop-up events listed on our website. We currently have a corporate office/showroom on Pier Ave. in Hermosa Beach, and we are waiting for a storefront to become available in our building so we can open our first brick and mortar store!

AIMEE & MARIA ARE OFFERING 20% OFF TO CELEBRATE THEIR GRAND OPENING.

USE CODE “BEFIERCE20” AT CHECK OUT!

FOLLOW @VITA_ATLETICA ON INSTAGRAM

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