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The Sweaty Betty story

posted on Tuesday, 25th April 2017 | find under Tamara
From Notting Hill to San Francisco, it's safe to say Sweaty Betty has travelled far since 1998. From spotting a gap in the market to over 50 shops worldwide, our Founder and Creative Director Tamara shares her story.

the sweaty betty story

When I started Sweaty Betty in 1998, it's safe to say women's activewear was a very different market. After graduating, I was working as a buyer at Knickerbox and we started to do a little bit of sportswear. I was buying this when I came across an American brand that was just starting out. I’d never seen anything like it. It was all bright colours and it wasn’t designed for men and then transformed for women, which was what the market generally offered. I was just like, “Wow, this is incredible!” and thought this is a real gap in the market. 

After being made redundant, I decided I wanted to fill this gap, reaching out to women who live active lifestyles. Whether a yogi, runner or skier, I wanted to reinvent activewear to make clothes that make women feel powerful and amazing. Despite a few 'are you mad' comments, I teamed up with my husband Simon and found a site in Notting Hill to open our first shop, though first we needed a name. Teaming up with my fiancé (now husband and CEO of Sweaty Betty) Simon I wrote a business plan.

We then needed a name, I wanted to challenge the notion that it’s not cool to sweat. Who cares if you’re a Sweaty Betty? So I took the ultimate cool chick Betty, juxtaposed this with Sweaty and we had it.

We then found a store in Notting Hill, London an up and coming area (at the time), there was a really nice gym and one of the first Pilates studios and we were where the early customer was — they just got it. We filled our store with beautiful and technical workout wear for run, ski, yoga, swim and every discipline for the British fitness enthusiast. Not that everyone was quite there, my first assistant quit on the day before we opened, but I persevered and it taught me a lot about our customer, I also discovered yoga (a lifesaver).

Affirmation then came from the Evening Standard, which named Sweaty Betty as “one to watch” two weeks after it opened. Then ‘Sports Retailer of the Year’, ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’, a WGSN award and awards for our ecommerce, retail and design teams. We've gone on to top designer collaborations, make an appearance on the London Fashion Week runway and open a new 3 floor flagship on Carnaby Street.
I am now a mum of three, or four if you count my dog Ennis and we have over 50 shops from London to San Francisco, including concessions in Harrods and Bloomingdale’s.

We design our collections seasonally inspired by a place I've travelled to, and that fused with our inherent London style creates collections which are uniquely Sweaty Betty in style but ever-changing season to season. Our all-female design team create beautiful styles that go from studio to street in the best technical fabrics. I think it's safe to say we're obsessed with fabrics, if we can't find them we make them. 

These are clothes for busy active women. Like most women I try and squeeze in a workout, whatever and wherever it may be – so beautiful clothes that work for both are becoming paramount in my life. What's next? I can't tell you everything, but I can promise more London-designed activewear that will help you create a fashion-forward wardrobe for daily life.

Find out more about Tamara here and shop Sweaty Betty's new arrivals. 
By Joanna Dakin - 28th January 2018
Hi Tamara Why it's taken me until now to read The Sweaty Betty Story I do not know!! I wish I could remember when I first discovered SB as I feel I've been with you since the beginning! I'm also a mum of three and have kept active through my life. There is nothing I love more than to pull on my SB gear in the morning whether I'm working out or not. The fabrics are divine in colours and feel and the cut just works every time - even when I put on a few pounds I can still fit into the S - wonderful fabric!!! You are in a league of your own as (very!) occasionally I have bought from other brands but nothing compares to the fit of SB. I get excited each season to see the new items released and I honestly can't think of another shop that fills me with the delight that SB does!! Best wishes for 2018 Joanna (Dorking, Surrey, UK)
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