Activyst is an ActivewearUSA brand that makes high-quality apparel and accessories for active women and that funds opportunities for young women in developing countries to participate in sports. We caught up with Katie Rock, co-founder and CEO, and Leigh Orne, Co-founder and COO, to talk about their story, their goals and their products. We think you’ll find them as inspiring as we do.
We didn’t realize that some girls don’t grow up with sports in their lives and we decided to do something about it.
How did Activyst get started?
We met playing tennis together in college. Playing sports through our life helped us become confident. We didn’t realize that some girls don’t grow up with sports and athletic experiences in their lives. We decided to do something about it by creating Activyst.
Katie had experience in nonprofits and other organizations and I (Leigh) was looking to do something more concrete and hands on. We started with Soccer Without Borders in Nicaragua. The girls didn’t have a place to play and they really needed their own field just for them.
Activyst team left to right: Leigh Orne, Katie Rock and Blair Warner
What impact have you had already?
We’ve funded soccer field for girl in Nicaragua, funded coaches for a soccer team in Uganda, funded running gear in Ethiopia, a coach for a soccer team in the U.S., funded athletic and academic scholarships in Ethiopia and a girls soccer program in Tanzania, and in Mexico. We also funded a skiing scholarship for a girl in California, in partnership with world champion skier Sarah Burke, who passed away before the 2014 Olympics and was a trailblazer in women sports.
What influences your style?
We love cool materials from different parts of the world. The Active Bag is made from materials from Nicaragua. It is super colorful and super functional for work to workout – it’s a great everyday bag that’s inspired by travel.
How do activewear fashions inspire your bags?
We look at apparel and trends and try to design bags we see going well with a wardrobe. We stay up to date with major brands for a cohesive look.
The Activyst team loves funky yoga pants, colors, and the idea of putting on a pair of yoga pants and feeling like you want to go outside and be active. We think about how women and girls with be motivated and excited to work out with stylish clothing and bags.
What are your favorite trends right now?
We love colorful patterns and international elements.
How is an Activyst bag different besides the giving element?
The yoga mat pocket is different from a typical slit in a bag wher the mat gets jammed in. We made our bags with a yoga mat compartment that has a strap and an un-stitched side for you to put the yoga mat down by opening the sleeve. It’s an easy process. And if you don’t do yoga, you can use it as a flip pocket as a laptop compartment or for storing magazines. Our bags include a shoe drawstring bag and other thoughtful features including padding for your laptop.
What are some of your favorite ways to get sweaty?
Right now, we’re doing a 100 day challenge to motivate us this summer. The challenge can be anything you want it to be. I’m (Katie) learning to surf, letting go and enjoying the process. It’s great to be by the beach and it’s an amazing workout. Leigh is working toward hiking 100miles in 100days in Seattle. We really like to switch it up and sweat in many different ways.
You have amazing partnerships. Can you tell us more about your female athlete Activysts?
We were lucky to have Gabby Reese take a picture in her tee and bag that we sent her. She is really supportive. Layla Ali tweeted us, which US Weekly picked up and featured in their magazine. Female athletes really understand our mission and it resonates with them.