“You gotta move fast if you wanna fly.” That’s the rallying cry behind Oiselle, a Seattle-based athletic apparel company that makes women’s running gear—designed for women, by women. “The flying feeling is somehow at the center of sport, and that’s really been a way that we think about running the business, too. Making sure that we’re moving quickly, because that’s when takeoff happens.”
So much of the Oiselle brand is about community, and Murray’s tight-knit team crisscrosses the globe to attend races, events, camps, and anywhere else that inspiration strikes. “One of the things that’s really important to us is that people hear our athlete stories from us,” says Murray. “There are so few women in sports telling stories that if we don’t get our voice out there first, the women’s voice doesn’t ever get heard.” And to be the ones to tell a story first, they have to be there first.
The agility to stay ahead of the pack
Murray’s tight-knit team has to move fast, because so much of their brand is about community—crisscrossing the globe to attend races, events, camps, and anywhere else that inspiration strikes.
Oiselle’s small size—just 25 employees—means that they lack the scale advantages of larger apparel manufacturers, but their agility is an asset when they’re hustling to stay ahead in a competitive industry. “Travel is a big part of what we do, and making sure that we’re a part of the events that are important to our community,” says Murray. “Usually at least one person from every team is out of the office doing something. Participating in a race, running a camp, supporting an athlete, doing market research, finding the latest greatest designs.”
“We feel a really strong calling to tell stories,” says Murray. “Our approach to marketing is really about being a part of the world as it happens. For us to celebrate the culture that our customers and our athletes are a part of, we have to be on the ground to make sure that the world sees what they see, too.”
Flexible tools for fleet-footed teams
Oiselle’s nimble teams are constantly finding new ways to leverage technology to stay agile and capitalize on new opportunities. Centralized file storage and file sharing is critical, for example, so everyone on the team can quickly pull up the latest information, whether it’s up-to-the-minute product specs or the most recent marketing images—anytime, anywhere, often on mobile devices.
“We live and die by shared notes and shared calendars,” says Murray. “It’s really, really important for everyone to know where somebody is, and we keep our strategic documents and shared notes so that anyone can see them and edit them.”
It’s not unusual to have half the team on the ground at an event and half the team at the office, so Oiselle depends on flexible, always-on tools and systems that keep them connected. “We are actually talking to each other in shared notes often as events are happening,” says Murray. “And so in that sense I’m always connected to my team, even if they’re not in the office. It’s a gift to be able to extend our reach into a lot of these spaces in the world that no one would ever think of working.”
Business email is important, too—and it can be ideal when the team is split across time zones and can’t easily hop on a call. “Think about the Olympics or the World Track and Field Championships in London,” says Murray. “Our team’s in the U.S., and we have people in London, and we’re all trying to talk and make the same stuff happen. So email is another way that we really work together.”
A future built on storytelling
Timeliness and speed have helped fuel Oiselle’s success, allowing them to build an authentic, ongoing connection with their fans and the wider world. But they couldn’t do it without tools and processes that keep them mobile: “If we’re not set up to be able to move information quickly between our team in different locations, we don’t get to be the storyteller that our community wants us to be,” says Murray. “Ideally, we’ll have more tools to help us do that, and we’ll be able to get closer than ever and tell stories in more compelling ways.”
Mobile productivity is the key to Oiselle’s future, too. “When I think about scaling, one of the things I think is really important is that we continue to hire storytellers,” says Murray. “People with a hunger and appreciation for telling the stories of the world as they’re happening. We’ll be able to tell more and more of those stories and be in more and more places and spaces as we grow.” Moving as fast as they are, there’s no doubt that Oiselle will just keep flying higher.