I received some great advice from two of the bravest people I know, my parents. Immigrants from Colombia, South America, they came to the US with nothing and were able to successfully build a manufacturing business while raising my brother and me. They both have been so supportive of my business venture. When I’ve questioned whether or not I should be pursuing this business, they both have said: “How are you going to know unless you try?” That courage is what all entrepreneurs need to have.
Vivian Sayward is the founder of Vivacity Sportswear, a women’s sportswear company based in California. Coming from a corporate background, she decided to try her hand at entrepreneurship when she found herself complaining about the lack of comfortable, stylish golf clothes that were available for women. Since its inception, Vivacity has worked with local community manufacturers to create well-made, fashionable sportswear for women. An advocate for the “health at any size” movement, Vivacity also has stylish collections of plus-size women’s clothing, as well as a motivational platform called Fit Knows No Size.
What did you eat for breakfast?
Coffee!!! And a bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon and fruit.
What’s your workout?
I need to sweat everyday, even if it’s just a quick walk around the block. Lately I’ve been swimming in the morning (pool workout of a mile or more or an ocean swim if the water temp is not too cold). Or I do a weight workout or a short run. It’s my way to breath deeply and clear my mind. I also enjoy hiking – we have such beautiful trails in San Diego.
Tell us about your work. What inspired you to start your business? Where did you start and where are you now?
I started my sportswear company because I could not find anything stylish, flattering and well made for the golf course. Thanks to my golf-crazed husband, John, I started to play golf with him. After hearing my complaints of not finding any golf clothes I liked, he said to me one day, “Then do something about it!” Hence, Vivacity was born.
What do you see for your future?
From our beginnings in the golf industry, Vivacity has evolved into a lifestyle brand that works in all different areas of a woman’s busy day. We are so excited about our new line extension for plus size (up to US size 30). We have spent a good deal of time working with the plus size community, trying to understand their needs and what they want to see in sportswear for them. Amazingly enough, most active and on the go women want similar things – well made, comfortable, easy care, fashionable pieces that work with your wardrobe. No matter our size, we all deserve great clothing and that’s what Vivacity aims to do: outfit women so that they look, feel and perform beautifully. Our mantra is #FitKnowsNoSize and I truly believe it!
Tell us a story about a success in your business or a mistake you overcame?
One major thing I have learned is that I need to trust my intuition. When you first start out in a new business venture/industry, you are learning the ropes and often times may be overwhelmed with all the possibilities. Early on, I listened to advice from “experts” in the industry, even though my gut said otherwise. Those were expensive lessons to learn but they have taught me that if something does not feel right, by all means pivot!
What do you love about being an entrepreneur?
I love the idea of building something from scratch – this is something that I missed when I worked in the corporate world (in my case, in the biotech/pharma industry). I started a business in an area that I had never worked – I can’t even draw, much less sew. There is no guidebook as to how to start a clothing company so I just started to network within the industry, beginning with my first trip to the LA Textile Show. Just by reaching out, I was able to connect with seasoned and respected professionals who were so generous with advice and providing resources for me. I appreciated all the support I’ve received and I realize that I need to be just as generous when others come seeking advice.
What about your business matters most deeply to you? How does it engage your values?
I get really excited about helping others – it’s truly a “high” for me. At Vivacity, I made it a goal to support local organizations focused in healthcare and education, areas in which I’ve worked in previous work lives. Over the past few years, we have supported and worked with Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, a world class center that cares for all children in need, no matter if parents are able to pay or not. We also work closely with Pro Kids/First Tee of San Diego, a “golf academy” that offers opportunities to children in the underserved areas of San Diego.
What’s the best and the worst thing about being an entrepreneur, as a woman?
Educated at an all women’s college (Smith College in Northampton, MA), I was lucky enough to have a support system that allowed me to believe that I could do or be anything I wanted. Interestingly enough, years after my college experience I have found a similar supportive network at Hera Hub, a collaborative workspace for female entrepreneurs. The collective power of a community of like minded professionals has helped tremendously in so many ways – I would not have connected with our fabulous Creative Director Christina Zeller, for example, without this network.
What would you say is your “entrepreneurial superpower?”
I really try hard to be a good listener, with our customers, our team, our vendors, etc. How can one improve upon a design if you are not seeking feedback? I really try hard to spend time with all these different areas so I can learn and quickly adjust what needs to be tweaked.
Connect with Vivian Sayward
LinkedIN: Vivian Sayward