North East fitness instructor brightens gym clothing market with e-commerce idea

Caroline Hayes uses evenings and weekends outside of her day job to run Gym Goddess, offering vibrant fitness clothing to women

Caroline Hayes, who has launched, aimed at female fitness enthusiasts
Caroline Hayes, who has launched, aimed at female fitness enthusiasts

Fitness instructor Caroline Hayes is bringing colourful fitness clothing to gym-going women in the UK with her spare time microbusiness.

The 33-year-old has used her own money to fund – an e-commerce venture that specialises in bright and colourful fitness clothing – for which she believes there is latent demand.

Ms Hayes, who is by day a communications officer for Your Homes Newcastle, set up the business in July last year after approaching US-based brand Protokolo.

She brokered a deal to distribute their Columbia manufactured ranges in the UK and using an off-the-shelf website template provider she began selling via a small stock holding at home. The group fitness instructor, who takes exercise-to-music classes under the Les Mills brand, said it was her own love of bright and colourful fitness clothing that sparked the business idea.

She said: “I’d started to notice that other people were wearing slightly more colourful clothing, but there wasn’t a lot of it around from the big name brands or retailers. There was obviously an opportunity there and I decided to go for it. I have a nine-to-five job, and in the evenings I take classes, so there isn’t much ‘spare time’ but I want to have a go at it.

“I’d done a lot of research to see what was out there and came across the Protokolo brand, but couldn’t find any UK stockists — so I got in touch.”

She praised the support of the brand, which was willing to offer her favourable terms and flexibility as a small-scale distributor.

While Protokolo could not offer UK exclusivity to gym-goddess they have promised to support Ms Hayes in her venture, and release two or three ranges each year.

Working on her own and with minimal budget, Ms Hayes initially used fitness events and trade shows to promote the gym-goddess name.

She added: “I’m on my own and without a huge amount of budget to spend on advertising, but I really want to make gym-goddess into something bigger.

“Now my aim is to work on the search engine optimisation of the site and grow my presence. I launched last year but until now the work on it has been quite ad-hoc in amongst my other activities. Ultimately I’d like to offer my own designs, and also branch into menswear too. I’ve got the ideas so I’d like to work with manufacturers.”

Ms Hayes is now poised to put more of her own funds into the venture, and says she wants to take the business as far as she can before seeking outside investment.


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