This Bowndling….week’s Londoner is Collyn Ahart. Advertising guru, working with brands such as Rapha and Nike, and with an insatiable passion for connecting brands with culture, her most recent venture includes the launch of a new adventurewear brand,
Where do you live in London and why?
Currently in Mile End, but about to move. I love this area because it’s incredibly close to Victoria Park, the Village and the canal that runs all the way North. It’s a 5 minute cycle to the Olympic park – which is massively changing the vibe of this area for the better. There’s an awesome community around this part of London that’s slightly more grown up than Shoreditch or Dalston but still really creative and a bit more active and outdoorsy.
You have recently launched adventure-wear brand Bowndling. We are a little bit in love… Tell us more about it and what inspired you into this venture?
I’ve spent over a decade working with other brands and was doing a lot of work in sport and fashion and was pretty exhausted by the over-simplification of “women” as a sport/fitness category. I’ve always been really passionate about the outdoors and trail sport, growing up in the Pacific Northwest and saw a massive opportunity to connect in a new way with people around adventure.
I didn’t want to create a “ladies brand” but a brand that would speak to women as complex, interesting, inspiring people, that just happens to make womenswear. It’s a unisex brand, making technical clothing for women.
There are so many reasons I wanted to create Bowndling, and a lot of it started with a basic frustration that I couldn’t find any outdoors clothing that didn’t fall into either the lumpy dumpy category, the sexy-snow-bunny or 17 year old skater-chick category. I was looking around at all these awesome women with awesome taste and thought there was just nothing on their level. I want to do for trail sport what’s been done for yoga, cycling, or running; to inspire people to get outside and explore the world – at whatever pace you go.
Where is your favourite travel destination, and why?
I’m a sucker for the mountains. Any mountains. Give me thin air and blue skies any day. At the moment I spend a lot of time in Spain because my boyfriend lives there for part of the year, and I’m really enjoying exploring the foothills of the Pyrenees both on my mountain bike and hiking. I also spend a lot of time in Italy as our two main factories are there, near the base of Lake Garda. At the top of my list is probably the Dolomites, though. From the north of Italy reaching into Slovenia and Switzerland, they are such an incredibly beautiful mountain range – unlike almost anything else on the planet (maybe with the exception of the Tetons in the Rockies) with massive spires jutting almost perfectly vertical. The culture of the Dolomites is a mishmash of different styles and histories: it’s Italian, but too clean. It’s Swiss, but too shabby. And if you’re going to eat any of the local food (typically cheese, meat, potato or bread), you’re basically required to climb a mountain every day.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs looking to launch their own start-up?
There’s never going to be the right time to launch your big idea. So if you wait until it is, the day will never come. It’s scary, it’s incredibly difficult at times, and I’m not sure it ever gets particularly easy. Don’t do it just to make money. If you’re doing it to get rich quick, you won’t. But if you do it because you love it and are both financially and emotionally capable of taking the blows, you’ll survive. Find a niche idea and focus on it. That means knowing your community, and putting them right at the centre of your brand. They are what will drive your success, and it doesn’t matter how good your products are, they are nothing without the people who use them. Last, I would say, don’t give up. I tell myself this about once every hour, as it’s difficult to see past the end of the week, let alone the end of the year. No matter how difficult it gets, surround yourself with people and stories that will support and inspire you, and sometimes put food on your plate when you run out of money (you will).
What would your perfect day in London be?
Sunday, a cross-ride up the Lea River canal to the Riverboat Cafe in Waltham Abbey for a £3.80 toast with Marmite and tea with friends. Then the Columbia Road flower market, with a sausage roll at Lily Vanilli’s. Coffee at Allpress on Redchurch Street. A walk along Regents Canal, through Victoria Park, and a Scrumpy with my boyfriend at the Palm. Dinner would be a massive bowl of king prawns from the fishmonger in Victoria Park Village, shucked and eaten in the back garden around a fire with good friends.
Wanna see more of the Bowndling collections. Head here: www.bowndling.com