Our Rosie recently tested a set of Anna Glowinski’s lady specific riding tights, Anna’s Legs, so we had a chat to see how you go about going up against the big guns as a one woman band.
Anna Glowinksi isn’t an unknown name in the world of cycling clothing, but Anna’s Legs are small batch, lady specific, high quality cycling tights. Pete had a chat with Anna about where the idea for the ‘Legs’ came from and what’s next.
Who is Anna Glowinski?
I am a cyclist, TV presenter and clothing designer from South London.
How did Anna’s Legs come about?
Anna’s Legs is a cycling leggings brand specifically for women. It is a niche concept but I wanted to focus deeply on creating something that I knew to be the best, rather than spread the brand to thin. Anna’s Legs is all about the product because this is where I wanted to focus my energy and it is what I wanted to obsess over.
I had an award-winning women’s cycling brand, AnaNichoola. for several years, but it was not a lifestyle that made me happy. I missed designing for my favourite target market – women cyclists, but I wanted to design and create in a way that complemented my bike riding lifestyle. Now I have the time to ride, talk to women, sketch on the sofa in my down time and truly enjoy the time I spend on the brand.
So, to answer your question, Anna’s Legs came about as an outlet to enjoy designing a great product, within a market I love, with the time to enjoy the process.
I have been cycling my whole life. When I was 5 my parents took my to my first cyclo-cross race and after that it was road and track racing out of school hours. Cycling has always been a huge part of my life, but it wasn’t until I finished uni that I discovered mountain biking. From then on, mountain biking and the extreme side of things has been my main passion. But to be honest, so long as I am on two-wheels, I feel at home!
What makes Anna’s Legs different to other ladies’ lycra?
Well, each piece is very thoughtfully curated and is only produced in limited edition quantities. I have tried to create something that fits the female figure in all it’s forms, which is no easy task with tight fitting fabric that is expected to move with the body! The best thing about the leggings, aside from the stand out prints, is the unique “anti-muffin top” waistband. It is the perfect compromise between wearing bibs that don’t dig in…and being able to go for a wee easily! The high back means that you never get a builders bum, but the drop curved stomach is a contour to support your front in the riding position.
There are a ton of other little features and reflective details etc. But really, I think that most women are drawn to the products for their on-trend prints and colours that you cannot find in other cycle wear.
How did you choose the factories you work with?
Over the years I have worked with many factories, and it is always the hardest part of having a brand. Choosing between quality, quantity, cost, ethics, distance, ease of communication is a headache. I think I have got there at the moment anyway and am happy with the european factories I am using. I have never found anything in England that is at all suitable though, so we’ll see how Brexit will affect the import business for me. Obviously I am crossing my fingers for a positive outcome.
How many people make up Anna’s Legs and what do they do?
It’s just me, but I have a good network of freelancers who I can count on for graphics, photography etc. I sell exclusively through VeloVixen.com, who are literally the most amazing team in the cycling industry! I went to them to ask if they’d support this new brand and we have worked closely together to build it up. They really understand women’s cycling and are a talented crew.
What did you have to sacrifice to get to this stage?
Financial stability! The absolute insecurity of not knowing what is around the corner and not being able to plan much for the future because every year is “see how it goes.” But I am comfortable with living in the moment and things have worked out pretty well this far. But this sort of sacrifice is not for everybody. I like to think that the fear keeps you moving forward, it’s like everything always works out OK because it has to, there is no other option.
Did you have day jobs that you had to give up?
I have never really done the 9-5. I have been self-employed since I left uni. At times, I have done bar work to keep things ticking over and I have spent a lot of time at my parents house and on my friend’s sofas. I don’t know how I would get a day job now, I think I have been out of the system for too long….I wonder if anyone would even take me!
Are you working alongside to make ends meet?
I work on many things in cycling. I have my own TV show on the Bike Channel during the summer, as well as other freelance filming work here and there. I help with the marketing of some other brands online too, which I can do from my laptop anywhere.
It might sound weird, but I don’t actually want Anna’s Legs to get big. It has only ever been intended as a side project that can help pay a bit of rent. I have been there before, running a successful, full-time clothing brand and I was so miserable that I have put parameters in place to actually prevent the brand from growing beyond the capacity I want to give to it.
I need it to be profitable because the difficulties and hard work need to pay off, but I am mostly into it because I love seeing women stoking when they get their hands on some of my kit. It makes me so happy you would not believe it! Ideally, I need it to be something that ticks over with a regular, stable but small income to complement the other work I do which can sometimes pay well but is massively unstable.
How did you learn what you needed to know to get your own company off the ground and the leggings in hand?
Hahahahaha, by years of trial and error. When I first started out I was 21 and had no idea that I didn’t know anything. That sense of sureness saw me through until it was too late. I could do a massive answer here about the mistakes I made – not knowing that Import Duty existed, using one Google Docs Template for invoicing and just changing the info each time so that I had no trace of anything I ever sent out, receiving samples that were so ridiculously out of shape that me and my friend could both wear the garment at the same time until we collapsed laughing. Literally everything went wrong, but so many things went right.
I truly believe that the lessons I learnt through cycling saw me through my path to learning how to run a business. Analysing risk, always moving forward, working hard, surrounding yourself with like-minded people. I know this is totally cheesy, but I swear, it is 100% true!
How many prototypes/samples did you have before getting to the production Legs?
2. I’m pretty on top of the game now, I generally know how a garment will end up. I will be going through another change based on customer feedback from the first collection, and hopefully that will be the last.
Beyond the prototypes/samples, what form did your testing take?
I have a good team of cycling women around me. My Mum is my number one tester, she does 90 mile rides two or three times a week. My best friends are also riders. And then I always try to encourage customers to give their feedback, as I read EVERYTHING and take it into account.
Where next for Anna’s Legs? How do you plan to go about getting extra helpers etc. etc.?
Once the sizing and shapes of the leggings are nailed it’s just prints, prints, prints!!! Working on new colours and patterns is so much fun!
Anybody to thank at this point in the journey? Long suffering spouses/parents/friends?
Ah yeah. When I’ve been low on cash, my family and friends have always stepped in to support me. When things have gone wrong and I’m bashing my head against a wall, my friends come over and let me talk things over and over and over until I’ve got it sorted out. I have the best network around me and it is that support that leaves me with no doubt that everything will always be fine. If my projects all fail tomorrow I know who will open the door to me for a cup of tea and a bike ride – and what more security could I need in life?!
Anna’s Legs are available exclusively through Velo Vixen. You can read Rosie’s full review of the Mountain Sunset Legs here.