Ondy Sweeting talks to Trudi Christensen, Norwegian powerhouse behind Bali’s fitness label dare2wear. Photo: Stephane Sensey.
SOMETHING is bothering Trudi Christensen – and it’s a question that is being discussed more and more around her brand Dare2Wear.
It is about demand. And supply. Her highly recognisable fitness wear collection is on a roll. With the mothership store in Batu Belig, Dare2Wear has an outlet in Lippo Plaza on Sunset near Seminyak, Soham Fitness Center in Petitenget, two places in Ubud and the sports wear range is being rolled out in 20 Jakarta shopping malls from this month.
The cool little factory of 12 staff including tailors, admin and graphic design/web design guys with 14 specialist sewing machines – is set for expansion, or possibly a shift.
“Our big discussion now is about capacity. We will either have to expand the factory or out-source part of the work. We will still keep our own factory for conceptual and new design work, but I just cannot produce the huge amounts that are being ordered now. Out-sourcing is an expensive option while growing the factory allows me to keep control over what is being produced, and how,” says Trudi.
It’s a problem of success.
Trudi is a woman with big plans to take her yoga, fitness and athleisure wear brand to the world. Our money is on the growth of manufacturing and maintaining control.
“My strongest ambition is to make this work. I could feel that in the early days people thought I was crazy and really doubted me. But Dare2Wear was never going to be a little shop around the corner,” she says.
Trudi – who has a strong professional and personal background in the fitness and fashion industry, plus a successful career in Norway with a software Telco – still had a dream to start her own fitness wear label back in chilly Europe.
“I did some experimenting with fitness wear production in Portugal and selling the product online but the margins where too small in Europe,” she says.
With her husband Stig, the opportunity came up to move to Asia and Singapore was an idea.
“I said ‘no way’ to Singapore and Bali came to mind as a place that has yoga and is spiritual as well. I also saw the potential opportunity in the manufacturing market in a way that is very appealing to me. I had never been to Bali but that was where we decided on and I don’t regret it one bit. I love Bali.”
With her life packed into four suitcases and installed into a Bali hotel, on day two Trudi set out to find possible factories where she could get started on realising her dream.
“I knew it was the right time and the right place. I thought I would buy some fabric and set up a few machines. I had no idea how complex it is to make high quality fitness wear. The fabric is as important as the thread and the sewing techniques. The past four years has given me a whole new education,” she says.
Starting the Kerobokan factory was a savvy business move, allowing small batches of samples to be made and quality controlled by the ‘Trudi Test’ – in which she wears, tears and tests every design and tweaks it or puts it back on the drawing board until it is gets her nod of approval.
“I started the factory to avoid burning through money by having to give manufacturers big orders that end up not selling.”
She adapts styles to suit different body types so all women are comfortable. Pieces have waist options of low-rise for the skinny types and hi-rise for fuller bodies. All the prints are uniquely created by Dare2Wear and many of the hot sellers are on their fourth or fifth rendition.
Aside from wheeling and dealing export agreements in Singapore, Spain, Dubai, England, the USA, Norway, Sweden and Australia, she is ruled by her vision of the Fitness Candy Store.
“I have a concept in my head by this name and I see women walk in and take this and that and reach for all the things they want. In our Batu Belig store I experiment with this. I test shop designs and monitor what sells and from which display or rack. We are about to have a major renovation of the store to create a super contemporary look-and-feel to the space that I could package up and sell as a franchise.”
So the future could see Bali’s Dare2Wear as an international franchise operation or a massive wholesaler to the global fitness industry.
Whichever way Trudi decides to roll the dice, it will not be a small shop around the corner.
“I love Bali and my brand and I will continue growing it. I knew I would never give up. Giving up is not an option.”