Wodbottom, a women’s fitness apparel brand based in Verona, announced it has raised $250,000 in angel funding.
The round was led by Nicole and Ben Raboine, two local entrepreneurs out of Tomah.
Wodbottom designs activewear including athletic shorts, leggings, tops and other fitness accessories. The seed investment will allow the company to grow its staff, develop new product lines, and enhance its marketing efforts.
Emily and Than Ruyle founded the retail e-commerce company in 2015, after Than took a class learning how to sell products on Amazon. As avid CrossFit athletes, the couple saw a niche opportunity in the growing fitness industry, first launching their signature silicone wedding rings online.
In a phone call, Wodbototm co-founder Emily Ruyle says the company then began to offer its fun, quirky activewear prints — workout shorts emblazoned with avocados or unicorns, for example — and quickly gained traction.
“When we first started we threw a lot of products at the market,” including foam rollers, wraps, and jump ropes, says Ruyle, who serves as the company’s designer and CMO. “But what we recognized is that women gravitated toward our fun designs as a way to express themselves.”
The couple began to gather customer feedback and spend time in fitness forums and in Facebook groups to uncover pain points to help refine the brand. What they found, says Ruyle, was that many traditional apparel brands weren’t appealing to the “strong” woman.
“Throughout time, women’s bodies were changing and traditional brands weren’t keeping up with the changes,” Ruyle says. “We accommodate the larger thighs or butt. We wanted to make women feel strong and confident. That gave us the signal that this was something we could be really great at.”
Over the years, Ruyle says the greatest challenge has been keeping up with customer demand, and learning the delicate balance between investing the company’s resources into marketing or inventory. Last year, the company was accepted into the gBeta Madison business accelerator program, which put the company on the path to maturity — and in front of investors.
It has also helped the company continue its efforts to support domestic violence intervention programming. Ruyle is open about her childhood experiences with domestic violence, which is why the company has a strong focus on instilling confidence and acceptance among women.
That mission hasn’t stopped Wodbottom from potentially launching a men’s fitness apparel line down the line, Ruyle says.
“There’s a lot of things we’re excited about, but the biggest is that we continue to grow year-over-year, and we see our customers coming back again and again,” Ruyle adds. “Whether it’s our product or our positive messaging, if helping people is always at the forefront, we’ll be happy with our growth.”