Creating JIVA Activewear
Not all entrepreneurial journeys start out with a business plan. Some don’t begin with a vision for what they hope to someday bring to life. I’d place my bet that there are a good handful that don’t even come to life on purpose. There is a category of entrepreneurship that frankly, you can just call an accident. A damn good, wildly transformational, rollercoaster of an accident.
Some of us were born to create. There’s probably an extra chromosome in our DNA that makes the process of making something out of nothing, completely involuntary and impossible to shut off. Nikki Arenesman and Remi Aliseo didn’t mean to launch a global activewear brand that would go on to build a following of thousands upon thousands of wellness lovers and sweat enthusiasts. They were a couple of sisters who made some yoga pants in their kitchen, who had no idea they had just made something that the world wanted.
This is a story about the many different ways we can express our gifts, about trusting your gut, about the learning journey that is being your own boss, and about listening to your gut when it says it’s time to let go.
If you have the privilege of knowing Nikki and Remi you’ve heard the story of the leggings born in their kitchen. Nikki was moving back home to Jupiter, Florida from New York City for yoga teacher training with a particular struggle that I’m guessing many of you can relate to.
“I didn’t have a job lined up…In all honesty, I was really just trying to not spend all of my money on fancy yoga pants” – #same
With a background in product development and packaging design, she was already a leg up (no pun intended) when she decided to take this yoga-pant matter into her own hands and make a pair herself. Equipped with some fabric, a sewing machine, and many late nights of trial and error, she wound up with the prototype for the JIVA leggings the world would come to know and love.
“I was amidst the birth of what would eventually be a company that grew to over 650k in annual sales over the next 3 years. And I literally didn’t know what a P&L even meant at the time. Now I know it means peace & love, right?”
Three months after the original kitchen-made leggings, and having enrolled Remi – who would eventually step into the role of Sales Director for Jiva as they expanded – the first official run of leggings by Jiva Activewear launched on their site was sold out three weeks before production.
It’s been about four years since then, and by all accounts, Jiva continues to thrive as a well-known and loved name in the fitness world. So you might be surprised when you learn that Nikki and Remi made the decision to sell Jiva in the latter half of 2017.
Things started to shift about a year ago. With Nikki newly engaged to her now husband, Matt, a flood of excitement and inspiration came in that she’d become a stranger to in the throes of running a global business.
“While managing all the financial aspects of the business, I personally found it difficult to click over into create-mode. I understood it was important for an owner to know their numbers, but for some reason, I felt very disconnected from what I’m passionate about doing. I could have survived continuing on this path or I could thrive by beginning to shift these roles and that’s change started to happen. Not long after that, I got pregnant and that really connected me to my purpose and solidified my inner instinct that something had to change.”
Passing the Torch
The decision to sell didn’t come easy. Jiva at this point was a physical extension of Nikki and Remi themselves, born from a wellspring of love and creativity. What many of you might relate to, however, is that there are a number of ways we express our gifts. Not every venture is meant to spend a lifetime in our own hands. What had become clear to Nikki and Remi, was that creatively, they were being pulled to explore new waters. After entertaining different investment opportunities and long-term business plans, an offer to pass the torch that is Jiva Activewear while still maintaining their in-house roles came through. Wrought with a blend of emotions ranging from sadness to relief to hope – they said yes.
Is it time to sell your business? Nikki suggests asking yourself what you want your life to look like, and then asking if selling brings you closer to your vision or further away.
“If you’re selling your business, there’s likely some other shifts happening in other areas of your life causing you lean into the idea. Talk to educated people, perhaps a mentor or someone with knowledge in your business about your options and thoughts – having some outside perspective really helped clarify a lot for me, so don’t be afraid to share in confidence what you are working through. Take your time to plan out the sale. A year ahead of selling is a good time to begin setting up your business to sell, because decisions made 1 or 2+ years prior. So, even if you are not sure you would ever sell, consider going back to step one and getting clear on what you want life to look like, and move from that space.”
From beginning to, well, new beginning, the lesson in this journey through Jiva is one of being capable. The story of these sisters serves as a reminder that to create is our nature, and that even when we falter, we’re equipped to access the answers and choices that support us in moving forward by tuning into the intuitive voice we all own.
These days, Nikki is drinking in the bliss of new mama-hood with her little babe, Coral Rose, and consciously harmonizing her work life and her home life. The future looks like a program launched through her new venture, The Well Co, that will help other passion-driven entrepreneurs avoid that overwhelm and work more efficiently with tools like yoga, essential oils, meditation and focus skills so that they can stay connected to their purpose and feel joy on the journey.
For all of the entrepreneurs out there on their hustle, trying not to buy yoga pants, we’ll leave you with these wise words from Nikki:
“Take a deep breathe every once in a while. There is a sweet spot where you can thrive in building a business and experiencing life wholeheartedly. If you spend your entire life making a living and you miss out on making a life, then whats the point?”
As told by Stef Osofsky of Apollo Connection Co.