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Liz Findlay: Getting Albion Fit
By: By Heidi Kulicke
January 11, 2016
In 2010, Liz Findlay and her husband, Dave, founded the women’s clothing company Albion, which specializes in fitness apparel and swimsuits. Albion—named after the Albion Basin in Little Cottonwood Canyon, where the couple got engaged—operated solely online until 2012, when they opened their first brick-and-mortar store at City Creek Center. Liz Findlay’s business advice? “Be honest, genuine and never burn a bridge,” she says. It’s a philosophy that has guided her to success as Albion continues to grow.
Do you have a background in design or fashion? How did you get started in the apparel industry?
I grew up in the apparel manufacturing business. When I was 8, my parents moved to Guatemala to give their children an international experience. They started a clothing manufacturing company and as I grew up, I was always around the sewing process and saw my dad work with world-class apparel companies. I went to graduate school in the U.S., where I met my husband, a talented graphic designer. During the third year of my Ph.D. program, my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and we decided to move back to Guatemala to help my dad with the family business.
What made you decide to break away from the family’s apparel business and start your own?
As much as we tried to fight it, I think we were just destined for it. With my parents having a successful apparel manufacturing company and with Dave's talents as a graphic designer, it just made sense. We started out designing for other companies and from there, we decided to start our own line. I've always had a passion for exercise and fitness and the market needed clothes that were not only comfortable, but focused on making women feel good and look good on a daily basis.
What is the design process like?
Dave and I both design together. Usually I draw up a sketch and Dave cleans it up and works on color combinations, then creates custom prints. We also get a lot of input from our talented staff and fashion-savvy customers.
What trends are you seeing in the apparel industry and how do you stay connected to your customers?
I’ve been seeing a real push to empower women to do hard things that haven't been glorified in the media before now. For us, that means showing our customers that strength and beauty can be represented in many different ways. Through social media we have our #iamalbionfit campaign, where our followers use the hashtag and post pictures of themselves going to class, chasing after their kids on the beach, sailing, hiking, running marathons or just running daily errands. It's inspiring to see all kinds of women feeling comfortable and confident in our clothes doing things they love.
How would you describe your leadership style?
We really strive to create a culture of open discussion and trust while building lifelong relationships. We admire and appreciate everyone on our team and we're all learning how to do this together. We have team members that have been with us from the very beginning, and sharing our success with one another has been one of the highlights of this journey.