Part of the MacKenzie culture is to promote a healthy work-life balance among our team. Whether it’s a leisurely weekend hike or a mid-week charity golf event, we like to stay active and involved. As a women-owned business we commonly find opportunities where our business-life and our active-life merge together. In these scenarios it’s important we present ourselves and our brand in a way that reflects our high standards; in order to do so it’s also important to be comfortable and confident. In our search to find a balance between personality and professionalism we came across Jofit; an athletic clothing brand offering all the qualities we were looking for.
Being the curious group that we are, our team decided to reach out to Jofit with hopes of learning more about the brand, the team and the vision driving its success. Today, you can find Jofit at 2,500 retailers throughout the United States and this month (May 2017) we’ll see the first Jofit SoCal location opening in our very own backyard; Corona Del Mar. We are honored to introduce you to Joanne Cloak, Jofit Founder and CEO. We chose Joanne as this month’s Thought Leader Spotlight because she is problem solver with a passion for creating fashionable, functional athletic clothing – for women, by women. We appreciate Joanne and Jofit’s boldness in striving to redefine the world of athletic-wear.
Q: How did Jofit come about?
A. I grew up in Western Canada, was an athlete, had three children, and was a Phys Ed teacher and a coach. My youngest son became a junior golfer, so I decided to join him if I was ever going to see him again, and got “bit” like most people do with golf so I played golf with him almost every day. I there was nothing to wear that I felt was respectful. Not that I’m talking about showing too much leg or too much body, rather nobody put too much thought into it. Nobody seemed to care, they cut a men’s polo with the same size arm and same size shorts and it made no sense. That was 11 years ago and I thought, hey I could do this – how hard is that? AND, it was really hard – much more difficult. We started in my garage and my basement. Eleven years later we have distribution in Canada, the U.S. and Australia, and close to 3,000 accounts. We have a tennis division, a lifestyle division, and we are about to launch a fitness division next year.
Q: Who were/are your role models? Who inspired you, mentored or supported you along the way?
A: My partner, Al Morrison, was out of his mind to invest and believe in me. He is literally the only one. My family and everyone I knew were horrified that I wanted to quit teaching, but he believed in me. He is a very successful man and he said, I know people and I know when I see somebody who’s got what it takes. God bless him! He has made a good investment and it has paid off.
Q: Where do you go for inspiration and how do you stand out from the competition?
A: Like other apparel companies, our team does color trending and goes to the print shows, we do all of that. We design as a team and we get to have different people from different countries and different ages. I travel a ton. I don’t look behind me or beside me, I only look forward and just keep going to find answers to better fit. When I’m asked by a buyer, who’s your competition, I say, nobody. I’m not an athletic company, or a lifestyle company or work or dress apparel company. I’m a company that fits a woman’s body that can address all portions of her life. We don’t put ourselves in a single category because it’s about the fit and not the clothes. It’s about her life. It’s about respecting her desire to be happy. We sell happiness. Our consumers are confident women and confident women like to wear good clothes that fit right because they feel like they deserve it. They do not suffer fools and they are awesome!
Q: As you look back on your life at this moment, what are you most proud of?
A: My family, without a doubt. We are all going to live and die and it’s only when you leave this earth that matters and I am leaving you with three really cool people that my husband and I created (two sons and a daughter) – you’re welcome.
Q: What do you most regret?
A: You can’t have any regrets or you wouldn’t be where you are right now. If I could have changed something about myself, it would have been to just believe in myself more in the beginning and not questions. Sometimes I let other people’s opinions sway me when I knew it was wrong.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you have received?
A: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – that can paralyze and slow you down. Go with your gut and keep going. If you make a mistake you fix it quickly. Mistakes are good. If you didn’t make mistakes, you wouldn’t learn. More than anything, own them.
Q: Where do you find inspiration outside of your job?
A: Business decision inspiration comes from the five minutes of peace I get in a shower. Something will hit me. When you relax, you have epiphanies. You can’t think outside the box when you are in the box.
Q: What daily routines do you have that prepare you for success?
A: I eat a ton! I can’t start the day unless I’ve eaten everything there is to eat. But seriously, I have to move. I don’t think without moving. It’s a problem but if I have to sit at a desk, I can’t think. I have to break a sweat. Even if it’s just a walk and if we have a meeting you need to go for a walk with me. I just have to move.
Q: What do you think will be the biggest challenge that the next generation of women will face?
A: Seems like not much has changed, which is sad. But I really think that if I look at the next generation, it’s the difference between myself and my daughter. My mother told me I didn’t have to college because I was going to get married and have kids and there was no reason to waste time and money and then I look at the way my daughter was born and raised. She just graduated from law school and all she can think of is get out of my way because I have things to do and I’m going to rule this world. Not much has changed, but it’s coming. It’s going to be this next generation because they don’t feel like they need to be polite, they don’t feel like they don’t have enough self-confidence, they’re not worried about how their dress looks; they are worried about changing the world.
Q: What else would you like to share with the thought leader and entrepreneur community?
A: I had a different business partner when I started this business. I tried probably for a year to find a business partner until I got that business partner. I knew that partner probably wasn’t it and knew it wasn’t going to work but I was so desperate. I met every human I knew that had a connection or a bank account and sat and shared my vision with them and almost everybody said no. But I didn’t stop until someone said yes. Everybody in my world said stop it, it wasn’t meant to be and I said “I’m a train on the track with no brakes, either get on or get out of the way.” For me, I didn’t have a choice and it wasn’t an option to say ok, never mind, I quit. So if that’s an option for you and you are not that driven, then don’t do it. It is difficult and hard work and don’t listen to everybody else. Don’t give them the time to get that sentence out of their mouths. Being driven is not an option, you don’t decide to do it. You either are or you’re not and both or okay.