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  1. #1
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    Harlot needs your help!

    Hi Ladies-
    It's Jennifer from Harlot Clothing Co here. Some of you may have heard of us, some of you may have not, but we make women's cycling apparel. We are a little company with few (if any) advertising dollars. So...here's my question: how do you find out about new products? What magazines/forums/etc. do you read regularly? We want to spread the word about our gear, but it's always hard to figure out how to do that most effectively. I would appreciate any help/advice/feedback so that we can make sure we are reaching our core market - you!
    Happy peddling and keep the rubber side down (as opposed to stuck in a tree like I did last week ).
    Many thanks,
    Jennifer Steketee
    Harlot President

  2. #2
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    Hello Harlot,

    The Ride Like A Girl girls know about Harlot from your prior support. The Harlot gear you sent us was highly sought after raffle prizes. Shorts were negotiated over and bargains made by those who were the right fit. I hope you got more orders for clothes from some of the Ride Like A Girl Ladies. I know several made requests to local shops to start carrying your clothes.

    Debbie
    "My daughter says I shouldn't dance like this, but I'm going to anyway!" Toni Price, Hippy Hour, 11/21

  3. #3
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    Hello Harlot!

    I have seen your merchandise in stores anywhere from the local shops here in the NW to the shops in the fine town of Moab. I have been drawn to your items but your fit seems to be too small for my size (5'6" 145 to 150lbs...30 inch inseam) and my taste (more coverage)...which is too bad, you have some really cute stuff.

    Also I noticed that shops tend to merchandise your clothing as lifestyle/casual wear as opposed to function. Maybe it is the assortment that these stores buy (tshirts and boardshorts). In fact I never even knew that you made shorts with a liner.

    Next time I will look for the shorts with a liner and see if I can get my big 'ole thighs into them

  4. #4
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    I found out about you from word of mouth on forums on the internet and word of mouth from other ladies locally. I like your gear a lot and would love to wear it but being 6' and slim you're sizing doesn't work for me. I wear your shorts in a medium but the inseam is way to short for my taste, a few inches above the knee, doesn't cover my pads. Your shirts are all to short on me as well, bummer. Just so you know.

  5. #5
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    Harlot - I look for interesting and quality woman's riding clothes mostly on line. Very few shops carry good stuff, even out here in Boulder. I don't know why, because every time I ride wearing a pair of your shorts or one of your shirts, I get loads of compliments! Some ideas:

    Get into more brick and mortar stores (here in Boulder I would recommend Title 9 and Outdoor Divas and Redstone Cyclery in Lyons) - I say this knowing absolutely NOTHING about how hard it is to get placed in a store.

    Hook up with the many woman's riding groups that are out there. It looks like you've connected with Ride like a Girl. There are more and you can find a lot of them here on this forum just by asking. BTW - I help run the Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance Gurlz Ridez. Off the top of my head, I can think of Vela Belas and Luna Chicks.

    Bring your product to festivals.

    Continue to be have a strong presence on the Web.

    Hope that helps!

  6. #6
    lmh
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    Hi Harlot

    Just a fit concern. I ordered small carmen x shorts. I'm 5'3 120 pounds and they were too snug. I think you should make a little bit looser fit. I found them by doing an internet search. I haven't seen them in any magazines. I read mountain bike action.

  7. #7
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    I love your products. I think some of them really would appeal more to the freeride/DH set (ala the Houlihan) if they were a bit longer and made out of stretchier fabric. However by stretchy, I don't mean a slimmer fit, I love shorts like sombrio that are both long and have some stretch to them, but loose fit! Houlihans are awesome, but there's absolutely no give in them when they get hooked up on things.

    My local shop (Passion Trail Bikes) carries some of your clothing, but I would try to get more of your logo Tshirts in stores. They're really cute and there aren't a ton of fun ones out there.

    Also, the Einstein sock, the bestest ever for those of us that wear full knees/shins a lot. PLEASE make them in another color/design! I talk and get asked about those socks far and wide!

    Thanks for making great stuff for women! And thanks for asking!

  8. #8
    And I don't mean the band
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    Quote Originally Posted by lmh
    Just a fit concern. I ordered small carmen x shorts. I'm 5'3 120 pounds and they were too snug. I think you should make a little bit looser fit. I found them by doing an internet search. I haven't seen them in any magazines. I read mountain bike action.
    I'm 5'2, 100# and usually have to order a size medium since thighs/shoulders are out of proportion from cycling. You'd think makers of cycling apparel would account for that...

    Anywayz, I order all my gear online, I hate the mall, and I hate going shopping. I know my measurements, so if there's a good size chart available chances are I will be a returning customer. I check out forums and reviews, and if I find a brand that has a good fit (very important) I will stick with it and am willing to pay a little extra. The Fox gear fits me really good and is comfortable, but I'm willing to try something else, but nothing has been able to beat Fox so far....
    Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live. --Mark Twain

    BLAWG

  9. #9
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    I normally find out about women's new products from word of mouth. But, for me, to find a pair of FR/DH types of shorts with longer inseam is almost impossible since there are only few choices. I googled "women freeride shorts" etc to find out what was out there. I heard about your products from an instructor at Mammoth Mountain resort few years back. She raved about them and all of us went straight to the resort store and scored few pairs. I am really not sure where would be a good place to advertise. I would definitely try to be on the 1st page of google search since I didn't see you on the 1st page when I typed "women mountain bike cloth."
    Good luck!
    If you could make FR type shorts with longer inseam, I will buy them!

  10. #10
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    Hi there -

    I think you will find some pretty specific responses on this forum, but it is really important to remember that you have 2 primary women's market groups:

    - the first market is the one comprised of women on this board. These potential customers are web saavy, extremely opinionated (they are even opinionated about whether or not they are opinionated) and comfortable with shopping online. This user is the most vocal group, but unfortunately, volume isn't a good indicator of demographic size - it really isn't that big a crew relative to the women in the other market. They will either love or hate pink, very few in-between.

    - the second market is MUCH MUCH larger. It is comprised of all the women on bikes who aren't on this board. They are much harder to pin down. The trick to getting to these women is what most of the companies out there are trying to figure out. In general, these women seem to be put off by brick and mortar bike shops, more comfortable with stores like REI, and their clothing shopping experience seems to be guided by personal trial and error more than influenced by magazines or experienced peer groups (ie. "my husband wants to ride bikes this weekend, I need shorts that don't make me feel awkward"). They respond well to pink - it is an easy way for them to identify product meant for their gender without having to ask questions of unhelpful, undertrained or intimidating floor staff.

    It is an interesting challenge reaching the second group of customers without annoying the first with too much pink.

    Cheers,
    C
    I only attempt to change the world in the appropriate World-Changing venues and forums.

  11. #11
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    Thanks Ladies for all the feedback - keep it coming! I think you can see why fit is so difficult. Just from the responses to this thread, we've got women 5'2" to 6' and slim to curvy. We women come in so many shapes and sizes! We'll keep working on it, though. Most of you here seem to want longer inseams, while many of our other customers ask for shorter inseams. Tricky indeed. Just FYI, some women really like our knickers for downhill/freeride. They go right to the knee and you can easily wear knee/shin armor under them. In fact, a customer just sent us a photo of her and 2 friends filling up the podium at the downhill race at Sea Otter, 2 of them wearing our knickers.
    Anyway, I appreciate the conversation and am happy for any other thoughts you have, especially on how to reach the customer base that "chuky" speaks of. (Chuky - you hit the nail on the head.)

  12. #12
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    Chuky has some great thoughts on the two groups of women riders out there. But I think a compromise can be made on the pink thing. I think that the second and larger group of casual women riders would respond well to bike clothing that is an array of attractive colors/patterns without resorting to barbie doll pink. I'm thinking vivid blue, green, purple, turquoise, and orange, and perhaps patterns that are not daisies and hawaiian flowers. I think both the first and second group of women like it when things match so it's good to have neutral colored shorts (black, brown, tan) and more flashy/fashionable tops.
    I agree that places like REI and EMS are less intimidating to the second group of women riders than independent bike stores. Sadly, many bike shops are still women-unfriendly with too much machismo and sometimes downright sexism no matter how much pink gear they stock.
    My favorite women's multi-sports apparel retailer is Athleta, and their mountain bike clothing selection is rather slim and uninspired. I'd love to see companies like Harlot and Loeka there..
    Oh- and here is my vote for longer inseams!!!!

  13. #13
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    I'd agree with Chuky on the market demographic. Your best bet is probably to create products that come in an obvious girl color and a standard unisex color.

    I've owned some of your shorts and while I think your fit is spot on (for me at least), I do tend to be a little confused as to what they are for. I race DH and am used to shorts with no chamois for that type of riding - but your shorts tend to be lighter and stretchier fabric, and shorter in leg length than what I want to wear for DH. I have used the Houlihan for lift served riding, but I do wish they were longer, and the stretchy inseam panel makes them comfortable but easier to snag on a saddle than other DH shorts. I do like the gray camo print though and the fit is very flattering.

    I would recommend selling your shorts with a detachable chamois liner. I think it would not only be more useful and expand your market but it would make it clear that your shorts are for riding, not casual wear.

    I have to say too that I LOVE your t-shirts/hoodies/socks, etc. "Ride bikes/be fabulous" is awesome.

    As far as where to reach them with marketing... Google search would have to be important. Getting them into big stores like REI is probably also a key to reaching more casual riders. And I think you could also probably reach more beginners by reaching out to groups doing instruction/coaching/beginner group rides. Last year at Angelfire, Jackie with Freeride Foundation brought a bunch of your clothes and hosted a party where we could try everything on (and buy them from her) and there is nothing like actually trying things on, feeling the fabric and knowing it's what you want. While I do a lot of shopping online, shorts are always a tough fit, so I would generally only buy shorts that I have tried on/owned before (or are so cheap it doesn't matter).

  14. #14
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    Totally agreed. We certainly aren't going to start doing pink or butterflies - it's just not us and there are plenty of other companies out there doing that. I think the struggle is letting women in that group know that there are more options available than they might see at the big box stores. If all they see is standard lycra kits, they have no way of knowing there are more options.
    Interestingly, most mail order companies that we approach like Athleta and Title 9 say the same thing - they don't carry much cycling apparel because it doesn't sell well. When I look at what they are offering, I understand why! I would highly recommend contacting them and telling them you would like to see a better selection. They seem to think there aren't many women mountain bikers out there!

  15. #15
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    nails, heads. I am getting better at it after 15 years in the industry, but I don't have it all figured out. ha. I just try something and see what works...
    I only attempt to change the world in the appropriate World-Changing venues and forums.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by santacruzchick
    I think a compromise can be made on the pink thing. I think that the second and larger group of casual women riders would respond well to bike clothing that is an array of attractive colors/patterns without resorting to barbie doll pink
    Compromise. That is one thing that the women in group one almost never do. ;-)

    As for barbie doll - it has nothing to do with color preference, because you are right, women will wear lots of colors. The real problem is, in a store where the shop is not invested in a "women's department" or even a "women's wall", there has to be a way for a newb to look across the shop and see an item and know "that is for me", without having to ask the scary clerk. Pink* is the least expensive and clearest signifier of gender available. For small companies with limited production runs that tie up significant portions of capital, why would they pick anything but the guaranteed winner?

    *pink in this case could refer to many gender specific identifiers, the point is, it is not gender neutral.
    I only attempt to change the world in the appropriate World-Changing venues and forums.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuky
    ...they are even opinionated about whether or not they are opinionated...\
    Chuckles.

    (and generally astute observations)
    Cats just don't feel safe on a moving bicycle, no matter how much duct tape you use. www.adventuresinprocreating.blogspot.com

  18. #18
    lmh
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    harlot

    Well I think women are smart enough to figure out women's shorts without them being pink. I don't think anyone wants to wear something pink in the dirt.I also agree that lots of women would appreciate anything other than pink and blue flowers.

  19. #19
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    ha ha hah ha. i love that we are all so sure. this is why we are a freaking nightmare to market to. your opinion, while valid, is not supported by sales numbers in the cases I have dealt with...


    Interesting tangental story, not in reference to any one particular post above - I meet with a lot of potential clients, and something that has come up more than once in discussions regarding women's products is just how tough we can be to deal with as a demographic. In particular, the more specialized the product, the more we complain. I have even had someone (not a client) tell me that if they weren't already invested, they would drop the line altogether because the sheer number of bummer phone calls and emails in proportion to the quantity of product sold (not very much, and it is good product). The calls weren't about problems with the product, they were to complain about color and personal preference stuff. Here are companies that put a lot of personal risk into creating product for a small demographic and all we do is remove the stoke... It is important to let people know how to improve their product, but I also think that there are a lot of women out there who don't know what a dig deal it was to make women's saddle 10, 15 years ago. The companies that helped to make this standard took a lot of risk, and so do companies that make gear for us today. We owe them a thank you as well as an opinion.
    Last edited by chuky; 05-11-2009 at 07:08 PM.
    I only attempt to change the world in the appropriate World-Changing venues and forums.

  20. #20
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    Sell it online!

    I love love love the tee/jersey I bought from you last summer...wool...green with a red star..slightly scratchy but totally worth it!! I found it after browsing through TreeFort Bikes website. Other than that, I'd never heard of your company before. I don't shop for bike stuff at REI just because of the icky - flowery - yuk that you find there, but I do shop online for bike stuff. I've found that brick and morter stores have employees/attitudes that scare many women away, so having a dialed in website with great fitting charts is the way to go. And advertise places we look, like google searches, or in mtb magazines or on other athletes.. 99% of the bike clothing I buy is purchased online, and so having a great return/exchange policy is a huge deal, especially for those who have never tried your product on! Most of my friends buy online as well because the shops in town carry the same ol' boring stuff, so get photos out there with real riders wearing your gear...help sponsor a 24 hr race, or put your flyer in goodie bags at XC races. Word of mouth is the best anyways!

  21. #21
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    You're stuff is great, and you have my size in some of your stuff. Woohoo! I'm a bigger gal (working on getting much smaller) and it's incredibly hard to find cute riding stuff that fits. I had never heard of you guys, and I have to say that posting here is probably one of the best things you could have done - word of mouth is great, and this exact forum is where I've heard of just about all the clothing/gear places that I shop. I slept through my marketing class, so I don't have much to offer on what you can do to get your name and product out there...but have you tried myspace/facebook/twitter? Haven't checked yet, but I'd absolutely become a fan on all three - thereby advertising you to everyone on my particular buddy lists. It's an incredibly effective way to get any information spread. Good luck, your stuff is great - even if it's not all pink.
    2008 Specialized Safire Comp

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by lmh
    Well I think women are smart enough to figure out women's shorts without them being pink. I don't think anyone wants to wear something pink in the dirt.I also agree that lots of women would appreciate anything other than pink and blue flowers.
    If new riders were not stressed and worried about the whole bike shop experience - of course they could.

    But good grief - look at how many people don't know you're not supposed to wear underwear under your chamois. They're not going to know it's okay to wear either mens or womens shorts and it doesn't matter that much so you should feel free to look at and try on both in the store. (But if you don't know that you might feel like you walked into a department store and went in to try on some men's underwear...)

    I think it's pretty much a fact that most inexperienced riders, especially women, are intimidated by bike shops. I'm not suggesting that everything be pink and flowery, but I do agree with Chuky that from a marketing perspective, it's important to make it easy for women not familiar with biking gear at all to identify things at a glance that are designed for them, so they can feel like they are shopping for the "right" things and not have to ask questions to find it. And this kindof ties in to what I was saying about not having a chamois in a lot of the Harlot shorts - if you don't have that, are you leaving a lot of women wondering if they are for riding or for casual wear?

    It doesn't have to be pink and flowers, but you need something on the exterior tag that catches your eye from a distance and screams "THESE ARE RIDING SHORTS FOR WOMEN!" Maybe its a matter of working with shops and putting up signs, creating a women's section, whatever. Yes it seems silly and unnecessary if you know what you're looking for, but I think it makes a difference in selling to beginners.

    And I ride in pink sometimes. I don't wear pastels (both due to the dirt, and the fact that I just don't like pastels...), but I have some hot pink Sombrio shorts. (Love the color, hate the fit... go figure. This is what happens when I buy shorts online.)

  23. #23
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    I know this may sound cliche, but about the brick and mortar stores that do carry your line... try going a bit "old school" ask them about possibly putting a mannequin outfitted with your gear on a bike. That way all would see it! I've seen lots and lots of posts from men asking about women's gear for their wives/girlfriends. Would give everyone the heads up that you are there and there is stuff for the women who like to ride too! Just a thought...

    As lots of others mentioned already, marketing online is key these days! Also, variety will definitely drive up sales, as we are all tired of the "girlie" graphics most women's apparel companies offer.

    Hope this helps in some way. Best of luck to you and thanks for the opportunity for input!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by jstek
    Hi Ladies-
    It's Jennifer from Harlot Clothing Co here. Some of you may have heard of us, some of you may have not, but we make women's cycling apparel. We are a little company with few (if any) advertising dollars. So...here's my question: how do you find out about new products? What magazines/forums/etc. do you read regularly? We want to spread the word about our gear, but it's always hard to figure out how to do that most effectively. I would appreciate any help/advice/feedback so that we can make sure we are reaching our core market - you!
    Happy peddling and keep the rubber side down (as opposed to stuck in a tree like I did last week ).
    Many thanks,
    Jennifer Steketee
    Harlot President
    By findng out what fits me, which is very little because I'm a size 14-16 female. Because of this, I'm really limited to what I can wear, so for me, it's usually what's on the rack in the men's section for jerseys and baggy shorts. My lycra underthings from Terry because they don't feel like a diaper.

    I wish I could be more helpful, but in general, I'm not very happy with women's cycling clothes because very little is designed for the Athena rider.
    MTB4Her.com: mountain bike site for women, by women

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stripes
    By findng out what fits me, which is very little because I'm a size 14-16 female...
    I hear ya, but in fairness I feel sorry for retailers- especially niche retailers- trying to figure this one out.

    Most of my jeans are size 14 (long waisted variety). At 5'8" and slicing under #150 these days, everyone's probably going to have "chunky" pop into their brain when in fact I'm just big boned, tend to carry a lot of muscle, and am actually quite lean at the moment. I don't have a clue about how the heck they concurrently deal with willowy 5'10"ers with hips and legs about half the width of mine even if you sent me to starve on a desert island....
    "...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."

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