What’s in a Pitchfest Entrepreneur? Meet the Finalists
— Rsport —
CJ Riggins, founder of Rsport, describes her company that caters to Athena- and plus- size athletes with high-performing technical apparel.
What was the inspiration for starting your company, and how has it evolved?
After 20+ years in the outdoor apparel industry, I noticed a recurring theme. The apparel industry was making a lot of beautiful product for a very narrow segment of the population. Graduating with a BS from The Ohio State University and a Masters from Colorado State University both in Design and Merchandising, I worked for a number of well-known companies like A&F, Adidas-Salomon and Pearl Izumi in Product Development, Design, Sourcing, and Materials. I knew that the national average female was a 10/12 in the ’90s and is a size 16/18 now in 2019. I wondered why brands were not increasing or shifting their size range to include this athlete. Many brands were building for the uber-athlete, and as an “exclusive” idea, they were missing that the majority of their consumers with disposable income were not the same shape as an uber-athlete. It became obvious that I was waiting for something that wasn’t coming, and I had to create the change I sought—the “inclusion” of all athletes. It was time for a new conversation.
What is the mission and vision of your company? What does the future trajectory look like?
Rsport is the premier creator, curator, and retailer of Athena apparel and lifestyle products. Rsport’s apparel fuses performance fabrics, advanced technical construction, and refined fit to meet the needs of the Athena Athlete. We are building performance athletic apparel to empower the Athena Athlete to do what she loves.
Our vision is to eradicate entry barriers so Athena Athletes everywhere can reap the benefits of the outdoors.
The future is looking bright!
Why did you apply for Pitchfest, and what are you hoping to get out of your experience?
The one self-evident truth that exists is you don’t know, what you don’t know. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and to be a well-rounded company, we need to have expertise in multiple areas. We’ve created a small team with strengths that support the master plan, but we can always improve. Additionally, Camber Outdoors’ Pitchfest is designed for our outdoor audience, so we can think of no better place to use our six degrees of separation than Pitchfest to reach a larger audience!
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned, thus far, in founding your company?
Like surfing, you get up, you ride a great wave and then you’re down again paddling back out to do it again and again. There is no sitting back and waiting for the business to grow on its own. There are highs and lows. You must have the tenacity to push through and not linger too much on either. You also have to realize that there are so many people willing to share their insight and expertise who are rooting for your success. Tap it.
What did you not see coming, and how did you respond?
I hadn’t anticipated just how emotional athletes would be when they discovered us. We’ve had athletes at events cry, hug us and high five us because, for once, they can ignore their apparel knowing it’s doing its job, and they can enjoy their athletic adventures! It’s affirmation at it’s finest. So we listen to their challenges and share where we’ve solved an issue, or capture a new problem or category we haven’t touched on yet and go back to brainstorm options to eradicate or dramatically improve their experience. Our goal is to outfit athletes so they can enjoy the outdoors and ignore their apparel.
What’s your superpower? Lenticular Vision
Outdoor adventure of choice for daily release? Running
What book would you recommend? Educated (non outdoor related) or Born to Run (Outdoor related)
Your number one outdoor hack? Deep pockets to hold your phone keep you from watching how long or fast you’re going. Just go. And, take a kid running…they keep you humble.
One word that you think of when we say outdoors? Inhale (just maybe not as deeply during pollen season)!
Pitchfest 2019 will commence on June 17 in Denver, CO. Register here.
After 20+ years in the outdoor apparel industry, C.J. Riggins, founder and CEO of Rsport, noticed a recurring theme. The apparel industry was making a lot of beautiful product for a very narrow segment of the population. Graduating with a BS from The Ohio State University and a Masters from Colorado State University both in Design and Merchandising, Riggins worked for a number of well known companies like A&F, adidas-Salomon and Pearl Izumi in product development, sourcing and materials. Knowing that the national average female is a size 16/18 she wondered why brands were not increasing their size range to include this athlete. The answer was blunt and telling; She was told, “It’s not our market”. Riggins realized she had been waiting for something that wasn’t coming and had to create the change she sought, the inclusion of all athletes. She realized it was time for a new conversation. Building for multisport activities, the goal of Rsport is to be inclusive by building performance athletic apparel for Athena athletes so more women can enjoy the outdoors and the activities they love.