BURLINGTON — Lolë Burlington, which has been on Church Street for about a year and half, blurs the lines between a fitness club and fashionable active wear for women.
The business has built a strong customer base by using classes, events, community outreach and social media to introduce more people to its location and product line, said manager Laura Washburn. Central to that, she said, are fitness instructors who serve as ambassadors that help potential customers realize that Lolë is, “not just another yoga shop,” and pushes marketing beyond the store walls.
“It’s a great community connection,” Washburn added “Ambassadors introduce people to the brand, and we introduce our customers to them and their work.”
Washburn described the Lolë clothing as, “Ath-leisure, which is a huge growth industry right now.” It’s clothing that enables women to easily transition from exercise to streetwear, she said.
Lolë is an acronym for Live Out Loud Every day. A Canadian-based company started in Montreal, it operates 18 stores in Canada and four in the U.S. — Burlington, Santa Barbara, Chicago, and New York City. Several privately owned retailers are also licensed to sell the brand.
Items available in the shop include yoga mats, gym bags and mala beads. Several times each month, the store itself becomes a hub for activity and wellness. Racks and tables in the 800-square-foot store are on wheels and can be moved to open up the space for classes: yoga, spinning, self-defense, pilates, as well as skin care or detox workshops. Many are taught by Lolë ambassadors, who partner with the shop for marketing and community building.
In Burlington, 15 ambassadors join in a one-year contract offering the store’s clothing to wear at their shops, gyms, or studios. In return, they teach at least four free classes during the year and promote Lolë through their studio or store. Ambassadors teach classes either at Lolë or their own shop or studio if class size or special equipment warrants.
One ambassador is Justine Zolotas, club manager at Snap Fitness in Burlington’s New North End.
“I learned about Lolë’s ambassador program through a fellow personal trainer. I was excited by the opportunity for networking with other fitness professionals in Burlington, and, of course, getting amazing fitness clothing to wear to work,” she said.
Zolotas teachers her own body sculpting, strength and conditioning and glute sculpting classes. “I design the classes myself,” she said. “They’re for all fitness levels and require no equipment besides a mat. I focus heavily on proper form and muscle recruitment with an emphasis on core activation. Safety, effectiveness, and fun are my priorities when I teach a class.”
She said being an ambassador helps her connect with other local fitness professionals, and builds a supportive relationship between studios and clubs that she thinks that is good for business.
“Burlington businesses can benefit from a less competitive and more synergistic dynamic,” Zolotas said. “At its heart, the ambassador program fosters a sense of community and fellowship among the individuals working within the wellness industry. Bringing together different businesses, in many cases small businesses, and sharing what the other has to offer, and cross-promotion can be a very powerful and cheap marketing tool.”
Ambassador Jennifer Sienkiewicz said, “The program is about uniting an individual and a company who share similar core values. Our goals are aligned, and it was a natural fit.”
Sienkiewicz is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and wellness coach. She teaches at The Edge locations in South Burlington, Williston, and Essex.
“My passion has always been to promote wellness to others in the community, and to help motivate others to reach their goals, and Lolë ‘s mission is to support active women, and to encourage movement and activity that empowers women,” she said. “The partnership supports women in their fitness and wellness endeavors, and ultimately supports a healthy community.”
Outreach activities include holding “meet-ups” at Lolë, or meet-up runs that start and end at the store, and trunk sales where Lolë products are taken into the community or to events. It’s a combination that encourages both fitness and brand awareness, Washburn said.
“We’ll take a picture, and post it on social media. Obviously, we’re dressed in Lolë, so people see the clothing on a live model, but also see us out participating in the community,” she said.
According to Washburn, Lolë started with ski apparel and retains its commitment to bold, active fashion.
“If you look at our jackets, they are very well-tailored. They look like women’s jackets. We don’t just, as they say in industry, ‘shrink it and pink it,’” Washburn said. “There’s attention to detail — accents, stitching, and hardware.”
Washburn said the line provides variety in colors and patterns, offering opportunities to mix and match, and said Lolë emphasizes quality, including strong warranties.
“We have a lot of technical clothing – for yoga, or running, or tennis — with practical features like hidden zippers and pockets pants or shorts to keep it fashionable.”
Invoking the store’s tag line, active wear inspired by well-being, Washburn said, “Everything we carry builds off that theme of well-being: the clothing, scented mat sprays, infusion water bottles, eye pillows — even our accessories are wellness minded.”
Right now, Washburn said the store’s core market is women in their 30s to 50s. But she intends to broaden that. She said community outreach will help Lolë Burlington tap into markets that haven’t yet found the store.
“We’re a college town. And we’re just starting to hit that market,” Washburn said. “It’s a future focus, where community comes into play.”
Lolë is located at 63 Church St. in Burlington. The phone number is 399-2265 and the Facebook page is www.facebook.com/loleburlington.