Created by women, for women, Apparelle is the new destination transforming the way we shop activewear and athleisure, and disrupting the industry.
Tired of being bombarded with hundreds of options and sub-par quality in the activewear and athleisure market, Cambridge graduate and ex-investment banker Amber Goodwin set out to create her own highly curated edit of the best brands and pieces – and so Apparelle was born.
Exclusively working with the finest in athleisure and activewear, Apparelle brings together established and emerging brands in one digital marketplace, where everything you see has been hand-picked for its quality, comfort and style.
Apparelle sells everything from yoga mats and hand weights to high-performance sports bras and loungewear, allowing customers to get everything they need in one fell swoop, and pay just one shipping fee – a godsend for those of us who are fed up of trawling through countless sites to find what we want and being forced to pay extra for it.
The coolest thing about Apparelle? Their founder. Clearly an academic as well as an entrepreneur, Amber Goodwin graduated with a Law degree from Cambridge University and studied Management at the University’s Business School. Amber then joined the fast-paced and highly competitive world of investment banking, working between London and Paris for some of the most elite firms in the industry. Amber left her investment banking job in February this year to launch Apparelle, her first business venture, and it’s already been deemed an industry game-changer.
Not sure how she’s managed it all? Us neither. Read on to find out more about Apparelle and see how out how SHE-EO Goodwin transitioned from investment banking to entrepreneur.
So Amber, what was the motivation behind starting Apparelle?
Apparelle was initially born out of my own frustrations when shopping for activewear and athleisure online during the pandemic. Our research-validated these frustrations, finding that women are forced to compare items across multiple websites, or ‘get lost’ on much larger platforms when shopping for activewear and athleisure.
The women’s UK activewear market is now valued at over c.£3.5bn, following enormous market growth in the last few years, accelerated by the trend towards healthier lifestyles and changes in fashion choices as we spend less time in the office. Despite this growth, the UK activewear market remains highly fragmented, with no single activewear & athleisure platform that serves women in their twenties – forcing consumers to compare pieces across multiple websites. Our research indicates there is room for a player such as Apparelle to segment the market in this way – activewear and athleisure have grown into a category in its own right and needs its own place to shine.
Despite my background is in finance, not fashion, art was always my favourite subject at school, and I was convinced I would become a fashion designer. That obviously did not happen, but I am glad I have found my way to fashion through a business lens.
How long has the whole process take?
I started working on Apparelle in November and launched the website in March. On reflection, this was an incredibly tight timescale.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
It has taken some time to perfect the backend technology which powers our partnerships with brands. We have quite complex software running in the background to ensure brands can sync their inventory to our website, receive orders and shipping information etc.
And what has been your biggest success so far?
It has been incredible to have secured partnerships with some very high profile brands in the activewear space, as well as up and coming brands. We will be hosting a launch event with Lorna Jane (the largest activewear brand in Australia) in London in the coming weeks.
How many brands are you working with?
We are currently working with 25 brands – ranging from international big hitters such as Bala, Free People, Lorna Jane and NA-KD Fashion, to up and coming smaller and midsize brands which deserve a limelight.
How has the transition from investment banker to business owner been?
I’m enjoying my new role. In many ways, I have taken a lot of (hopefully mostly good) habits with me. As a banker, you are responsible for developing persuasive business plans and complex analyses, as well as learning to be persuasive, commercially minded, ferociously hardworking and to never take no for an answer – all traits which I’ve found helpful when launching a business.
I also still work into the late hours of the night, but am increasingly trying to focus on productivity rather than hours worked. There are things that I’ve had to adapt to – in finance (particularly in mergers and acquisitions, where I come from), things move at a fast pace and you come to expect almost instant responses and outcomes. I’ve come to realise that more creative pieces of work can take time to get right, and speed isn’t *always* everything – though I believe it is important to act (and fail) quickly as a startup.
What do you hope to accomplish within the next year?
My aim is to establish Apparelle as the go-to destination to shop activewear and athleisure brands for women in the UK in their 20s and early 30s.
Sustainability is becoming an increasingly high priority for businesses now, especially startups. How important is sustainability to you?
Sustainable principles are at the heart of Apparelle, with our business model prioritising shipping directly to the consumer and avoiding unnecessary re-routing, intermediary warehousing and wasting CO2.
But more importantly, Apparelle’s customers are given the option to shop sustainably via the Conscious Edit, a curation of the pieces available on the website which ascribe to sustainable practices themselves, from their materials and packaging to ethical production.
Is there anyone or anything that has inspired you during the process of starting your own business?
I particularly love hearing stories of entrepreneurs who have moved out of the world of banking into more creative or entrepreneurial fields. A few that come to mind are Eshita Kabra of By Rotation, Alessandro Savelli of Pasta Evangelists and Will Shu of Deliveroo.
I think investment banking is a great launchpad from which to start a business, even in more creative fields, and there are many inspiring success stories of prominent founders who have made that pivot. On a more personal level, I’ve been lucky enough to have been inspired by people in my life who have taken unconventional career paths: my boyfriend made the decision to drop out of university to start what is now a very successful business.
And what would you say is the best advice you’ve been given along the way?
I’ve received a lot of advice since starting this journey, and one of the biggest challenges is learning which bits of advice to take and when to follow your gut instinct. The best piece of advice is probably actually from something I have read, rather than something somebody has told me: this is Paul Graham’s article “Do Things That Don’t Scale”. It’s a classic but great advice for any entrepreneur in the early phases of launching a business.
And finally, what do you want to not die wondering about?
I would say that not taking risks is the biggest risk of all, which underpins my approach to following my passions and starting a business.
Shop at Apparelle here.