New spandex sportswear: This dream is no stretch

Are there any dreams that would make you would work next to the Arctic Circle in Alaska for months, virtually alone, at a fish cannery? Where, when you take your morning run, there’s a good chance you’d run into a bear or a moose?

Metro Detroiter Jackie Gross braved that environment to fulfill her dream … about spandex. Not just any spandex. It’s called UR Sportswear. She self-funded the development and prototypes through her Alaska trip and then went to Kickstarter to make it possible to ramp up production on sportswear that actually fits right.

As an avid runner and former college coach, Gross found most of what’s out there for runners, climbers, yoga enthusiasts and other active women takes away focus from the athletics. It doesn’t fit well, it’s unattractive or a combination of the two. So she reached out and asked people who are actually working out, running and being active what kind of sportswear they wanted. For the first product line she surveyed more than 300 women athletes. By directly asking those who actually are going to use the clothing, she was able to find out what they’re really looking for and develop a unique product.

Whereas companies like Nike and Reebok are generally top down in their approach, UR Sportswear is aiming to be the clothing choice of those who are the doers … the athletes themselves. UR Sportswear is starting off on the right foot. Social interaction is part of its DNA and it has a constant feedback loop between customers and the company.

“I think people want to be in control of what they wear and feel like what they have to say should be taken into consideration in designing their workout apparel,” says Gross. “They want to have confidence in what they’re wearing.”

The Michigan State graduate is now taking the project to Kickstarter to raise $35,000. Admittedly that’s a hefty sum but this kind of project uses a high-tech material. That requires capital to buy a special fabric that cannot be purchased in small quantities. It’s smart thinking to ask for that money since one of the top reasons businesses fail is underfunding.

“The goal is to keep everything in the United States, Michigan and Detroit … the manufacture, the design, the marketing, everything,” says Gross.

She is already planning a factory visit in the next couple of months to personally ensure the working conditions and quality of a potential supplier.

Once UR gets funded, it plans to expand into menswear and is already are surveying men about their needs.

If you’re interested in helping establish a new business that will help diversify the Detroit economy you can pre-purchase a pair of the first line of UR spandex shorts or contribute in anyway comfortable for you.

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