Kelsey Marie Collection
with Kelsey Robinson
31 Jan, 2022 · Volleyball
Kelsey Robinson, VIS League mentor, Olympic volleyball player, photographer, blogger, and now designer speaks with us about the release of her new clothing line, the Kelsey Marie Capsule Collection!
Athlete: Kelsey Robinson
"Fighting for Sustainability Beyond Sports: Kelsey Marie Capsule Collection Launch"
Kelsey: What I hope people see is that there was an incredible amount of passion that went into it. And that each single decision had meaning behind it. There was meaning to why I made it in America. There is meaning to what fabrics I sourced. There was meaning to what I created with how I created it. And even the pieces are all named after inspiring women in my life.
Stef: Today we are so excited to have Olympic volleyball player and VIS league mentor, Kelsey Robinson, back on the Voice In Sport podcast to celebrate the release of her new clothing line, the Kelsey Marie Capsule Collection, which launches tomorrow on February 1st as an advocate for mental health and creativity, even as a professional athlete, Kelsey shares with us how cultivating passions off the court promotes her overall balance as a person and makes her a better athlete.
Today we are breaking down what drove Kelsey to create and produce her new line. She leads us through why sustainability and being environmentally conscious in our fashion choices is so important. The fast fashion and apparel industries are major contributors to pollution and waste. According to the California Public Interest Research Group, 85% of textiles produced end up in landfills or get burned. Carbon emissions from the fast fashion industry contribute 10% of the annual global CO2 emissions. So, this is why I was so excited to talk to Kelsey today about her mission behind her new clothing line, which has sustainability and inclusion front and center.
Kelsey shares with us, her journey in the learning about sustainable fabrics, ethical labor, and how she implemented these features in her new collection. What I love most about this episode is that Kelsey had no prior experience in building an apparel collection. She just followed her creativity and listened to the voice of female athletes.
This is why we think she needs more VIS.
For those of you that don't know, and haven't been with us for a very long time. Kelsey was one of our very first podcast guests on the Voice In Sport podcast, last year, Kelsey was born in Illinois as a multi-sport athlete, including basketball, softball. In addition to volleyball, she played division one volleyball at University of Tennessee and University of Nebraska. And after college, she joined Team USA won a gold medal at the 2014 world championships, a bronze metal at the 2016 Olympic games and a gold medal at the 2020 Olympic games. So outside of Team USA, Kelsey has played professionally in pro leagues all across the world, including Italy, Turkey, China, and now Tokyo. So today I'm super excited to talk to her about her launch of her new clothing line, Kelsey Marie.
So Kelsey, thanks for tuning in from Tokyo and welcome back to the Voice In Sport podcast.
Kelsey: Yeah, Thank you. I'm so happy to be back. And like you said, I was here in the early days, but it's been great to just grow together.
Stef: Absolutely. And, you know, we talked a lot about your journey in your first episode with Voice In Sport, but let's talk a little bit about, just to remind those listeners of your journey in sport, if you could share with us, how did you end up deciding on volleyball and when was that.
Kelsey: Well, I came from a sport family. We just grew up you know in the backyard playing softball and just, I always had a ball in my hand, so, I grew up very familiar with that and it was always a comfort zone for me.
Initially I started volleyball as cross training for basketball. And just kind of fell in love with the sport. I fell in love with the team dynamic of volleyball. I think it's one of the true team sports, just because you're so reliant on everyone around you. Yeah, I ended up dedicating myself to volleyball when I was a junior in high school, got a scholarship and then after my senior season at Nebraska, I got invited out to the national team originally as a libero, which if people don't know the libero is the one in the other color jersey on the court, and typically they're smaller, they play defense and pass, which is my role was an outside hitter. And then eventually earned the spot as an outside hitter, played all over the world and been doing this now for almost nine years, which is kind of wild to say out loud.
Stef: Yeah, it's pretty incredible that you've been playing at that level and with so many incredible accomplishments along the way. And what we're going to talk about today is actually nothing to do with volleyball or the court. It's more to do with really what's kept you in the game, which is like exploring the creative side of who you are.
And I can't wait to share that side of you with our audience because I know it's a big reason why you've been successful on the court is that you've actually focused on something else off the court. So, I want to briefly touch on just like outside of your volleyball career. You've been somebody who's been really passionate about a lot of different activities.
So you have your own blog, your own YouTube channel, a cookbook, and now a clothing brand. So tell us, how do these passions help you maintain a balance in your life and how has this balance ultimately made you a better athlete?
Kelsey: Well, I think it's important to understand the schedule of professional volleyball and what that actually looks like. So, what we do is we play seven months abroad. Whether you're in Turkey or Italy or China, you know, you're gone for seven months and then we come back and we play five months with the national team, which is based in California, which is amazing, but my family's from Chicago and parents are in Georgia now.
So, I kind of only get to see my parents around three to four times a year, maybe, maybe I think two last year. So what we do in order to stay in the sport for a long time, it becomes really challenging mentally and physically and emotionally. It can be a grind. And I think after the first Olympics, I was left depleted more mentally and emotionally than I think I had expected.
Before my first Olympics, I was, you know, a gym rat. I lived and breathed volleyball. It was volleyball tunnel vision, like I'm going to do everything possible to get there and forget the rest. And , sitting here now and looking back, I mean, that's just an unsustainable way to live your life.
And so, I prioritized my mental health, my emotional health moving forward because I knew that I wouldn't be able to keep going if I didn't, and kind of redefining who I am as person and what that actually means. So it's been a long journey, but the biggest lesson that I've learned is just how impactful creativity is to me and my health.
And it allows me to feel joy, to feel presence and give me happiness in a way that volleyball can't. And so together, those things make me a full person. And, when I'm not able to have amazing days, or it just feels like a grind, I do have these other outlets that really provide that joy that I'm seeking at all times.
Stef: It's so important. I'm like how do you actually carve out that time to dive into those passions, because you know, for you, it's a creativity side, but it's still time in your day, right, and we only, as humans have so many hours in our day, in our week, and a lot of our community here at VIS, you know, they're high school female athletes or college female athletes, they're overachievers or working really hard at school.
They're excelling in their academics as well as in sport. And then it's almost easy to like, be like, oh, I don't, I don't need to do anything else. So how do you find that time and make it a priority to have those other interests and passions that you do when you're trying to accomplish these academic and on the court goals?
Kelsey: Well, I think for me, it started with identifying what brings me joy. What brings me presents, what takes my mind off of my job and what I do professionally. And I started understanding I would bring my camera everywhere with me, whether it was on road games or if I went for a weekend somewhere or just like had it in my purse, and I would find something beautiful, and I've always done photography since I was little I had a camera in my hand and so I didn't make that a priority until I was experiencing that presence through photography. and like really recognizing that this brings me a lot of happiness. And so I just put the camera in my bag and started to bringing it literally everywhere, and then I started writing because I was traveling a lot. And I think the biggest piece of it is to just play around and start understanding what that means to you specifically. Like for instance, mine is creativity and then as you go, and as you realize that, Hey, this is bringing me so much joy, you want to make more time for it, you want to have that space for those things. And then I just think you'll find that your performance elevates so much because you aren't defined by what you do and the moments in your sport.
Stef: Absolutely. Well, and it's really cool to see that you started as, you know, photography and then journaling, and then into cooking and then now into making sustainable fashion that's more inclusive. So you didn't just decide ,to, you know, start a clothing line. You actually can do that pretty quickly right now, but your approach was much more thoughtful. And I really want to dive into what motivated you to start this collection and what was the why behind the Kelsey Marie Capsule.
I definitely it can understand how it can be a quick process, probably quicker than what mine was. It took me two years actually start to finish. But, I reached out to a lot of different people and just kind of wanted to see the process. I really knew nothing about it. And finally was introduced to Melanie DeSalvo through Virtue & Vice.
And she recommended taking her course on sustainable fashion. Because that was a big piece to why I got into it. And I wanted to understand it before just producing it. And so after that I decided, you know, kind of the how behind how I wanted to make it being sustainable and ethically made, being made in America was incredibly important to me.
Making pieces that had a wider range of inclusivity with women and their bodies. And so I think a lot of it was obviously inspired by fashion love fashion for a long time. And so it. was just kind of like the next step, I think in my creative journey.
Stef: I love it. So, it's super inspiring and you know, to go for two years from knowing nothing to developing your own clothing line and doing it in a way that's sustainable and inclusive, it's really impressive. So, we're going to break down just exactly how you did that so that other female athletes can get super inspired about this and maybe thinking about starting their own lines themselves.
So. I want to know a little bit, if you pulled from your experiences as a volleyball player, you know, for the inspiration to this line. So talk to us a little bit about that inspirational moment to like when you were in the design phase, like really thinking about the type of collection and the type of apparel you wanted to bring to market.
Kelsey: Yeah, I get like a huge smile on my face to talk about it because every decision was impacted by volleyball. I feel like, which is so crazy because the line is lifestyle it's not even volleyball related. But, I travel a lot, right, I live out of a suitcase. I have to go overseas and you're only allowed like 75 kilograms or something like that in your suitcase or whatever.
So, the idea behind the capsule collection was to make pieces like that. If you were going to get on a weekend trip because you got two days off and I wanted to go to Paris, like I'm putting the capsule collection in that bag. And that's all I need because there's like, 20 different ways that you can wear those pieces.
And so volleyball inspired the why behind the capsule collection and why I chose to make things that really mix and match. And then the second inspiration was, I mean, if you're around the sport of volleyball, all of my friends are six feet plus There's a lot of women that play that are under six feet, but I'm just around a lot of long legged women.
And if we buy jeans, it's like one pair you're going to keep for 20 years, which is also great for sustainability, but the reason you're keeping those is because they're the only ones you can find that are long enough. And so I was like I want to make it easy to wear these pieces if you're tall.
And my idea behind it was that you can always hem, you can never add. So that was kind of the inclusivity piece of, you know, what I wanted for this line. And then the other inspiration was there was a brand that all the girls liked and I had ordered a large and it didn't even go like through one of my legs.
And I was so frustrated with that because I was like, how is it possible that this is a large and who is fitting in these clothes? And so I really wanted to use fabrics and fibers that were very stretchy, were very comfortable and could fit a variety of body types. And obviously it's not perfect and it was my first time, designing something with size and mind. So I, I do believe that the next collection, if you guys stay with me for a long enough we'll be much, much better and way more inclusive, but we did begin with sizing. For example, I resized as the medium and then we sized up and scaled from there.
So that's kind of all the inspiration and ideas behind it. Like everything I took into account.
Stef: I love that because it starting from a different point of view, right, instead of sort of like industry standard, let's take this one body type and start our sizing from that one space and build up and down from there, you started at a different point. And I think that is what the industry needs more of is that is inclusivity just right there is trying something and starting from a different point of view and you're already becoming more inclusive.
So I think it's really cool how you're now a medium. So you were actually like the fit model for the medium of your brand, is that right? And then did you bring in other athletes to wear test the product? Tell me a little bit about that process when got your first sample?
Kelsey: I'm not kidding. The first sample was awful, but actually the second sample we nailed it. So it was not that long in between that we got to the final outcome, but the first sample went to my calves, so I was like, okay, well, we definitely missed the mark on that one.
So it was interesting, but well I did a lot of this abroad.
I was working with somebody in partnering in America, so there was a lot of shipping back and forth between originally when I was in Turkey to America, now I'm in Japan, so there was not a lot of room to measure different body types. I did in my original sketches, I did actually measure a couple of my teammates in China to get different ideas.
But I will say that is something moving forward that I am going to start doing, because now I'm starting to see the clothes on our models. I'm starting to see it on my friends and my family. And so now I have all these examples of ways that I want to change.
Stef: Yeah. That's one of the biggest things in the industry. I think that needs to change is models, putting on clothes is not helping young girls or any of us feel good about ourselves. So let's use real people, real athletes. Let's show how the clothes fit. And then actually work with real people when we're creating them.
And I think that's really powerful and I love that you worked with some of your teammates on your clothes and had them try it on. I think that makes a huge difference. So let's go a little deeper into that development process, because getting it right in two samples is really good. I would say you kind of nailed it if that's what happened.
Because most of the time it takes somebody like three or four quick turns to really get to a good spot. So, the fact that you got there sooner is really incredible, but you made a conscious effort to make your apparel in the United States. And I want to talk about a little bit that process of like, how did you evaluate the place that you did end up going with for manufacturing? I think it was out in New York. What were you weighing when you were considering those decisions to make the product locally here versus overseas in Asia, which can be a lot less expensive for you in terms of your margin that you can gain.
So what did you decide in the end? Like how did you make that call?
Kelsey: Yeah. First I will say that getting the sample, correct. I owe a lot to the woman I worked with Miranda Watson. She is really great in making patterns and sizing and stuff. And so I owe a lot of that to her and just really nailing that. But I think something that was important to me in the decision was, you know, I play for the United States and I represent USA for the national team at the Olympics.
And it was just something special to me, I think more than anything to say that it was made in America. And I also know that it's being ethically made, fair working conditions, fair working wages. And that is a huge component to the collection. I'm I have a really, really difficult time with fast fashion and I just don't agree with so much of it.
And so I didn't want to add to this concept of waste that the fashion industry produces. And I wanted to create and get into the fashion industry without going against everything that I believe in. And so producing it in New York gave me that option.
Stef: So how would you summarize up the values of your brand? If you could think of three things that really summarize Kelsey Marie collection and its values, what would they be?.
Kelsey: I think number one would be sustainable and ethical. I think the fabrics and the fibers we used, we made a conscious effort to create as little waste as possible, and also reducing our carbon footprint and supporting the women that made these pieces. And I think number two would have to be my 'why' in creating this.
It's really special to me because like you said, in the beginning, I am an athlete that showcases a lot more of myself to the world. And I share a lot of other things beyond volleyball, and I think it's so important to me to give that message to younger athletes, you know, growing up in this very, very competitive space where it feels like if you even breathe anything other than your sport, you won't be successful.
And I just think that's not the case. And I wish I had known that I wish I was able to see that when I was younger, but I'm glad I know now. And I'm glad I'm constantly working to find joy and presence through other outlets. And then number three would be just making it with the intent to be as inclusive as possible.
I think I see it all the time with my teammates and there's such a variety of body types in teams and so many beautiful women in whatever shape or form you have. And you're so powerful and the human body is so powerful. And we need to believe that as women, because we're taught that a lot of times, it's just about what you look like in sport over, you know, what your body can actually do.
And so, the reason why I want it to be as inclusive as possible was the big inspiration from my teammates. Is it perfect? No. And are we going to be better in the second collection with inclusivity? Yes. But, I'm constantly inspired by my teammates and wanting to do better by them.
Stef: I love that. I want to kind of go back to that point about your journey and in volleyball in middle school and high school, you know, growing up as a young woman being in a sport where uniforms are quite short and tight and small, you know, did you ever face body image issues?
And how did you consider that when you were thinking about this collection?. You know about how you wanted women to feel when they're wearing it.
Kelsey: Yeah. I think honestly, when I was growing up and in high school, I was very much a tomboy, like kind of just wanted to be at the gym all the time. Like, I didn't really know pay attention to anything else but my sport, and I think the body image struggles came into play when I got to probably my senior year and when I went into college and like you said, we do wear a smaller uniform and Jersey, but I think it was a feeling of inadequacy.
Like I would look at other teammates and just be like, well, I don't have this and I don't look like that. And I would spend extra hours outside of the gym, just like on the treadmill or on the elliptical every day and like saying, oh yeah, this is for my sport. But I knew why I was doing it. It wasn't for my sport. It was to look a certain way and then had an unhealthy relationship with food. And so it is difficult to go out and perform and know that you are wearing such small clothing, but I think in my journey with not only mental health, but with my body and body image, I've learned that my body is powerful And I can jump so high with this body and I can move so quick and maybe I'm not a certain body type, but that's my strengths. And that's what makes me beautiful. And I think when we learn to just really accept ourselves and our body, you just start to love yourself more and you stop wasting time thinking about food and what you look like, and you start spending time being present and filling your space with joy.
Stef: And so did some of that sort of like your long journey sort of inspire you in like how you designed this product? Like it's very flowy, so I'm sure our audience is going to see it when it launches here.
Stef: know, it's very flattering. It's very flowing open and very versatile. So was there some sort of like reason or inspiration behind that?.
Kelsey: I think the biggest piece was comfort. I wanted everybody to feel comfortable in these clothes, and I wanted them to be able to literally wear them in bed like pajamas or like strap on some heels and like go out for a night on the club. Like, that's the biggest inspiration. I just wanted the like comfort, you know, I feel beautiful and sexy, but comfortable.
And I like truly believe these clothes make you feel that. And so we had our first photo shoot yesterday in California. Of course I couldn't be there, which is devastating, but I saw the clothes on the women and it was like exactly what you hope for. The women looked so beautiful. I was like in tears crying because that's what I want to do. I want to make people feel beautiful and feel good about themselves. And so that was like a really special moment for me.
Stef: Yeah, absolutely. Well, also as a creator, right, you worked on the design, the development, the hard labor of bringing it to life in a thoughtful way, and now you get to see it on other women's bodies and them feeling joy from that. It's a really cool process, you know, and we want to inspire other young women who are listening to this podcast to like start their own companies and like go for it.
And I love that you didn't come from like a background of apparel, and, so, at one point or any point, did you doubt yourself along the way? And then if you did, what was there to keep you going?
Kelsey: I think I doubted myself the entire way if I'm being transparent it is scary to get into a space you have no idea about. And then also there's always judgment from your sport, from critics who are like, well, if she would just stop doing that and focus on volleyball, she'd be better, obviously as an athlete, that's just not the case, but it's always going to be scary.
And I think I pretty much doubted myself, up until three weeks ago. I'm just preparing to not sell anything. But I think what kept me going is I think I've been this way my whole life is kind of jumping in head first and not looking back. Like I've done that pretty much with every decision I've made.
And I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. It's not about making money. It's not about, you know, anything beyond proving to myself that I can do something completely different than what I've ever done before.
Stef: And it gives you joy in the process of doing it back to like how we started this podcast, which I just think is such a strong message for all of the young women in the Voice In Sport community to hear
And hearing that you had doubts all the way over the last two years. And you're, you know, you're about to launch this. I think that's how a lot of us feel when you're starting something new or trying something different. And an important part is to keep going and surround yourself with people who believe in you, people who come from different backgrounds and you had two incredible women that you leaned on during the process.
And that is something that is so important. You don't have to be alone in these journeys that you decide to take, you can find people that have done it before and learn from them. And that's the power of community.
Elizabeth: Thank you for listening to the Voice in Sport podcast. My name is Elizabeth Martin, and I'm a soccer player at Emory University, and also the producer of this week's episode. If you enjoy hearing from Kelsey Robinson and would like to get the chance to talk to athletes and experts, just like her go-to voice in sport.com/join to sign up for a free membership and gain access to exclusive episodes, mentorship sessions, and other weekly content.
Don't forget to follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Tik Tok @voiceinsport. Now let's get back to the episode.
Stef: So, I want to talk a little bit about sustainability and fashion because fashion is one of the largest pollutants for the entire world. Right, it produces some of the biggest carbon footprint across the United States. So we know there's a huge problem and there's a lot to work on. So, when you were thinking about creating this apparel collection, how did you learn about sustainability and in the end, what were the decisions that you made that may have been more costly? But in the end are more sustainable.
Kelsey: Yeah, I have a very hard time. Like I mentioned earlier with fast fashion. I think there's a lot of greenwashing. I think there's a lot of companies and brands that need like one little thing to say they're sustainable, but the rest is actually not. And so it takes a lot of research and a lot of knowledge.
And right now, the goal behind the line is also to inform people of what that actually means, whether it's my brand or others, like, what are we looking for? How do we know if it's sustainable? How do we know if it's ethically made? And I think a lot of that first comes from researching the brand that you're going to buy from.
Second, can you maybe thrift it vintage? Can you rework clothes? I think that's a big piece of sustainable fashion is not even buying something. And the third I think is, you know, researching a brand's mission. If they have one, then it's a step in the right direction. If they don't, then I would say clearly they are not sustainable or ethical.
But I do think there's this Tik Tok mindset of, "oh, I see this. I want this, let me buy it. It's like 10 bucks from Shein. Okay. I'm going to get it because it's 10 bucks and it'll come the next day". But, a lot of people don't understand that the people working in those factories are working 75 hours plus to make those pieces that are selling for $10.
And I can't justify adding to that, and I want to make sure that that would never happen with my brand. And I think the other piece about it is educating people. I mean, my teammates are so sick of hearing me say buy sustainable, think about it. I'm not kidding.
They are like over me just talking about it. And I'm like,
Stef: I can't wait for them to listen to this podcast. They're all going to listen to it right.
Kelsey: If we talk about fashion, I can go in tangents about it and then just yell at them and things like that. But it's mostly just about educating people and making a thoughtful decision. You know, maybe it isn't the best fabric or it's not perfectly a hundred percent environmentally friendly, but are you consciously making that decision to find something that'll fit in your closet? You'll keep for 30 plus years. And to me that's a better alternative.
Stef: Yeah. So interesting. Like what you say about the mission, right? Because a lot of companies actually, because almost sustainability now is like, cool. And like, inclusivity is cool. And so now everybody in their mission is adding these words to their mission. So how do you really research a brand to know if they're truly doing the work.
Kelsey: Well, usually if I'm looking at a brand, I start with trying to find their mission statement in there about like on their website. And then the second thing I look for, if I'm buying a piece of clothing, I'll look at the fabrics. And if, I don't know if this fabric is, you know, using less water to produce, then I'll research it.
A great website for that is Reformation. They do a great job of giving you that information up front. It does take a little bit if it's not a company like that to research those things, but to me it's important. And then the third thing, which I pretty much do first before buying is seeing if I can buy it secondhand, buy it vintage or there's some great Instagrams and websites that curate used clothing and make them look new again.
And so I'm like Greenlight on those pages. I'll buy everything they put up because I feel comfortable with buying something used. But then if I can't, those are the steps I go to when I'm buying from a brand.
Stef: No, I think that's really important. So, you know, a lot of people don't know this 'cause they're not from the fashion industry or the apparel industry, but look at the tags in your clothing, it's like find out what material is that made out of? Is it a natural material or an organic material. Has it been dyed?
Even ask the question, where is the actual source of that product and that material come from. And the brands that can be the most transparent about their entire supply chain in the end are the ones that are gonna be the most ethical and the ones that you're going to want to buy from.
So, there's a lot of different things. You can do one looking at the materials, like you said. Two, looking at where they manufacture their product. And, three, look at if they have some sort of closed loop to what they're producing. Cause if they're going to produce, what are they doing when they're getting the product back, when the product is done, right?
A lot of this product ends up in landfills and doesn't even get to any of us. So there's a lot of things companies can do, and it is so important to do the research and really look in to , what is they're doing to try to be sustainable. That obviously takes some sort of care to like, wanting to know about sustainability.
And that's not usually at the forefront of why you're buying a product. So, unfortunately we hope we will get society there someday, but in the meantime, we want to make sure that the message is clear about whatever products it is that we're bringing to market. So when you think about your first collection, what is that main message that you want to share about that collection?
Kelsey: What I hope people see is that there was an incredible amount of passion that went into it. And that each single decision had meaning behind it. There was meaning to why I made it in America. There is meaning to what fabrics I sourced. There was meaning to what I created with how I created it.
And even the pieces are all named after inspiring women in my life. And I'm selling the pieces on a sustainable woman- founded clothing collective run by one of my best friends who's incredibly talented. So the photographer for my shoot was my sister-in-law and we shot it on film. The models are both athletes, one of them being my teammate at the Olympics. So every decision that went into this line was for a reason. And I hope that comes across when people either see it or choose to buy something and wear it.
Stef: I love that you named pieces after several of the female influencers in your life. So would you share one of those people and a little bit of the story behind why you wanted to have them as a name?
Kelsey: Well, I named the button down after my grandma and my sister. And so my grandma's name is Patricia and my sisters middle name is Patricia named after my grandma. My grandma passed away the two months right before my first Olympic games. And she was a huge, huge inspiration in my life and just a source of love and support in who I was and everything I wanted to be.
And my sister has also. Just been that outlet who doesn't care about volleyball at all. Like she's literally is in it for the travel purposes of volleyball and nothing . More. And she's like, you need to go to Paris because I want to go to Paris and I'm like, you could buy a ticket to Paris. Like it's not about volleyball for her.
And so I just love having that and being able to bounce ideas off of her and she's been incredibly supportive. And so that was the inspiration behind the Patricia blouse.
Stef: I love that, and I love that you have a sister that's like, let's go to Paris because that's like exactly what you need and your grandma sounds amazing. So I love that. And, well, I can't wait to see the other names of the pieces. So how many pieces in your collection do you have? Tell us a little bit about the capsule so we know how we can buy it, where we could buy it, and when it's available.
Kelsey: So our main staple piece the one that I'm in love with and obsessed with is called the Murray set after my other grandma. And we actually share the same middle name. So, the Merissa is a blazer pants, very loose fitted it's made out of bamboo fabric. And, basically, like I said, you could literally wear it to bed or put on some heels, a cute little bralette under and like go get drinks. It's so versatile and so beautiful. I saw it on the models for our photo shoot and I almost died. So that one is my favorite. It comes in black and americano. And then the Patricia blouse is your standard, every day button down blouse, long sleeve. It comes in black and ivory.
The ivory is a hundred percent organic cotton, so it's more sturdy, but a very great staple piece that you can wear just out for the day. The black, I love it's super soft. It pairs really well with the pant. Everything, basically, you can mix and match, which you'll see in the photos.
And then I have the Susie set, which is named after my mother-in-law and my mother. They both have the same name, Susie. And so the crop, it comes in black, americano and a white waffle knit. And we have little shorts that go with it that are all also waffle. They come in black and white. And like I said, you can literally pair everything with everything and it'll look great.
So we are launching February 1st, which I'm so excited about and you can buy it on shoptherowan.com R, O, W, A, N,. As I said earlier, so that is a curated collective of sustainable and women founded brands. And so I thought it was the perfect place to sell the line.
Obviously me being in Japan, it makes a little difficult to do all the shipping and those things. So that's why I'm partnering with shoptherowan.
Stef: I love it. . Well, it's so incredible. I love the inspiration behind the names and the storytelling, and that you worked with athletes and all of your teammates. I love it to bring this product and this whole collection to life. So, we're excited to support you at Voice In Sport. I'm sure all of the volleyball players in the community are going to be wanting to know how they can get their own pieces.
And I can't wait to see what you do next in your second collection. So thank you so much for sharing a little bit about your journey, you know, starting your first collection. I know it's not easy, and the fact that you've done it from like your ideation to creating to now about to launch is such a huge accomplishment. And so when you think about that and think about your younger self and like high school and college, you know, what advice would you say to those high school girls that are athletes today thinking about, well, maybe I should start a business.
Like maybe I should do that, but maybe don't have the confidence to do it. What advice would you give those girls?
Kelsey: As cheesy as it is. I would say if you're passionate about something, then go do it because it's going to make you happy or introduce you to people that you've never met or take you outside of your comfort zone and put you in a space of like, I have to make this happen, you know?
And that's been such an incredible journey for me is really being vulnerable and being scared and just sending it basically. I think, like I said, launching a business and doing something outside of the space of volleyball has been scary, but it's been incredibly rewarding. And I am not going to stop anytime soon because I love it. I wake up with a smile on my face with ideas, with creativity, like busting out of my fingers and it's all I want to do. And then I'm able to go so hard in the gym and I'm able to be fully present with my teammates because when I'm out, when I'm done with practice, I get to go home and have this whole other world.
And that's just been so rewarding. And I would encourage anyone who has a passion to really go after that.
Stef: I love it. So what would be one thing though? Cause I'm sure you didn't do everything perfect just like me when building my first company. So what would be one thing that you would have done maybe differently? You know, knowing what you know now?
Kelsey: I had set out to make it height inclusive. That was my main goal just from seeing so many tall women not able to find options. And in doing that, I, almost made it uninclusive to anybody who is short, just in terms of the pants, like who is shorter. And so moving forward, that is my number one goal.
We're already designing collection two. We're going to have options for those taller women, but we are also going to have an option for. shorter or, you know. middle of the pack heights. And I think the other piece of inclusivity that I really, really want to nail down is not only height, but width, I want to make sure we are incorporating sizing options for every body type.
And now that I have the piece of sustainability and ethics behind it and really honed in on that and know that world, the next step is nailing down the inclusivity. So that's what my priority is moving forward.
Stef: I love that because, you know, clothes, we do have to wear them a lot, you know? I mean, we kind of need them to walk around town and, and play sports. So we need clothes. I think it's, you know, it's really amazing though, how clothes can affect how we feel about our bodies, right? So as you're reflecting back on just your experience as a younger female athlete, what would be one piece of advice you would give to a younger girl who might be struggling with body issues especially as female athletes, right?
Like we're tall. We're, you know, we're broad in our shoulders. We have super strong, amazing bodies, and it doesn't always fit into sort of the straight and narrow way fashion industry creates sizing. So, it makes you feel sometimes really crappy about your body. I had this experience when I was a division one athlete a little bit long time ago, but you know, I went to go put jeans on and I couldn't find any jeans that would fit my legs and my waist.
And that actually took a pretty big toll on my mental health and my body image. So, I think it's really important for young girls to know like clothes are not always designed with everybody in mind. And so it does make people feel not so great about their bodies. So what advice would you give the girls today when you're, when they're heading to go get their school shopping and getting the clothes for the next semester?
What's the internal voice that you would recommend everybody kind of going into that shopping experience.
Kelsey: Well, I can say that I hate the fitting room. I don't know what it is about the mirrors or the sizing of things. I'm like, I want to get out of there as fast as possible. And that has been something that I really don't enjoy. So you're not alone is what I first I would say.
But secondly, fashion is an incredible opportunity to express ourselves, to feel beautiful, to feel creative and powerful and to identify as something beyond our sport. It's a way to express yourself. And so I think when it comes to fashion and the female body, and maybe you have doubt in yourself or body image issues, I think it's important to remember that your body is incredible. It allows you to perform at high levels. It allows you to do things that as athletes and many people can't do. And I think when you're experiencing that feeling in a dressing room, I think just remember what your body allows you to do and how beautiful that is. And then also remember that the sizing industry is so screwed up.
So you can't look at what a size zero or a size six or a size 12, like is, and let that hold weight because there are pieces out there and different sizing that will fit you and will make you feel beautiful and just feel powerful in that,
Stef: Absolutely. We'll just end this podcast with it's time to blow up the sizing chart. Let's get rid of these whole zeros, minus zero. It's like basically going to like minus zero. It's like, what is that? No, it's so backwards. And I hope that any young girl who was listening to this conversation knows that in order to be the best in your sport, your body is like one of the most treasured gifts that you have.
So love it. Like cherish it, fuel it. And be proud of it because I can tell you now as somebody who's looking back as a mom, I'm a mom now. And like I used to be in that space and I wish I would have been happier and more proud about my body, but I wasn't because society, sizing of brands was making me feel like crap.
And that is what we fundamentally have to shift. And I'm super excited you're starting that path today with Kelsey Marie, and we'll be 100% behind you. So, thanks for coming today, Kelsey. We're so excited for your launch.
Kelsey: Yeah, thank you for having me. I'm obviously always love being on here, and I want to spread that message and I want to make people feel beautiful.
Stef: This episode was produced by VIS creator, Elizabeth Martin, a soccer player at Emory University. What I hope we take away from this episode is the importance of leaning into our identities outside of sport and how by doing so we can become a more well-balanced, stronger and motivated. Kelsey has been on a US women's national volleyball team since 2014 and just won a gold medal in the 2020 Olympics.
So let's take this lesson to heart and really think on it. As we reflect back on ourselves.
And if we create let's create with sustainability, inclusion and equality at the center of how we build, I love how Kelsey is focused on body positivity and the voice of athletes with our collection Kelsey's collection launches tomorrow, February 1st. So to support Kelsey checkout, shoptherowan.com that's S H O P the Rowan R O W A N.com. You can also follow Kelsey on both Instagram and Twitter @krobin32. .
And check out the Voice in Sport sessions with Kelsey on voiceandsport.com. When you join our community, you gain access to our exclusive content and podcasts, mentorship sessions from professional athletes like Kelsey, and access to the top experts in sports, psychology, nutrition, and sports science.
To hear more about Kelsey's journey in volleyball checkout our very first episode, episode, number one with Kelsey around finding your power. If you haven't already give us a rating and review on apple podcasts and be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tik Tok @voiceinsport. See you next week on the Voice in Sport podcast.