T-Time Podcast // Ep. 53: Creating What Women Want with Joanne Cloak, Founder & CEO of Jofit
Tori speaks with Joanne Cloak, the CEO and creator of JoFit, a renowned golf wear brand. Joanne's background as a former model, physical education teacher, and lifelong athlete offers a unique perspective. She takes us on her journey, overcoming the struggle of ill-fitting garments and eventually establishing her brand that prioritizes comfort, fit, and style. Joanne unveils the fascinating history behind JoFit, describing her extensive efforts to promote the brand to pro shops while traveling along the East and West Coasts. She also shares her experiences in tackling the challenges associated with expanding her business, managing cash flow, and securing pre-booked orders.
The conversation further delves into Joanne's design philosophy, highlighting the significance of intricate details, patterns, and sizing strategies. She explains her golf wear preference and how she ensures that her styles cater to all body types. Tori and Joanne explore the inclusive and comfortable features of JoFit's wide waistband design, and they conclude by providing a preview of the exciting designs planned for the upcoming Fall of 2024.
How JoFit Began
JoFit was born out of Joanne's frustration with the lack of suitable athletic wear options for women. As a PhysEd teacher and lifelong athlete, she struggled to find well-fitting clothes that could keep up with her active lifestyle. In 2007, she launched JoFit with the vision of providing women with comfortable and stylish athletic wear that would allow them to focus on their performance. Joanne's determination led her to overcome various obstacles, including seeking guidance from a production manager's office to find a factory in China. Today, after more than 16 years of success, JoFit continues to empower women with its well-fitting garments.
Inspired by her own experience as a model and her passion for sports, Joanne aimed to create activewear that addressed specific needs. Her designs incorporated features such as large rear pockets, deep front pockets, and long shirts, ensuring convenience and confidence during physical activities. Joanne's journey involved traveling to Taiwan to meet with fabric mills and factories, resulting in the creation of the first sample that resonated with women. With JoFit, women can enjoy comfortable and stylish athletic wear that not only enhances their performance but also allows them to play their best. However, as the company grew, it faced challenges with inventory management and cash flow. Joanne realized the importance of pre-booking orders to avoid inventory problems. The demand surpassed their production capacity, leading to issues when placing production orders in China. Despite the challenges, JoFit has adapted and transitioned to a direct-to-consumer model, leveraging online sales to provide instant feedback and data. While cash flow management remains a constant puzzle, Joanne's primary focus is to seize sales opportunities and ensure sufficient stock levels to meet customer demand.
JoFit’s First Garment & Pattern Selection
JoFit's first signature garment was a shorter and narrower skirt, accompanied by sleeveless and short-sleeved tops. These designs aimed to address common frustrations with billowy shirts and wide shorts that often made legs appear shorter. By incorporating strategic seams and narrowing the openings of the garments, JoFit created a flattering illusion of longer and leaner legs. Additionally, the brand's crop pants provided ample room in the thighs while tapering down to the ankle, creating an optical effect that enhanced the appearance of longer legs. These innovative designs set the foundation for JoFit's commitment to stylish and functional activewear.
JoFit's Generous Sizing Strategy
JoFit's sizing strategy was driven by a focus on comfort and functionality. The brand aimed to provide a relaxed fit with a wider waistband that gently flattened the abdomen. This design choice accounted for the natural changes in body shape that often occur as individuals age, with the midsection becoming slightly thicker while the legs may appear thinner.
While the intention was not to manipulate perceptions, JoFit's sizing initially turned out to be larger than the industry standard. Over the years, different design teams suggested changing the sizing, but Joanne insisted on maintaining the original fit. Her personal preference for a looser fit influenced the brand's approach, ensuring that customers could enjoy comfortable garments that aligned with their style and preferences.
What’s Next for JoFit?
JoFit is expanding its range to include swimwear that provides comfort and confidence for women. The swim shorts, designed with a five-inch inseam, offer coverage without being too long like traditional board shorts. They feature a loose elastic waist with a drawstring for a comfortable fit and are made of high-quality nylon spandex. The shorts also have convenient zip pockets in the back and front.
In addition to the swim shorts, JoFit will introduce UV swim dresses made from the same lightweight and breathable fabric as their UV tops. These swim dresses offer UPF 50 sun protection and can be adjusted in length, allowing for versatility and personal preference. The swimwear collection aims to provide women with comfortable and functional options that allow them to fully enjoy activities such as walking on the beach, swimming, and building sandcastles! The response to these swimwear designs has been overwhelmingly positive, particularly among women who appreciate the focus on both comfort and style.
Planned Designs for JoFit for 2024
In 2024, JoFit plans to introduce a new white UPF fabric that is lightweight and non-transparent, perfect for everyday wear. They are also excited about their new knit pants, which have the appearance of woven pants but offer the comfort of a nylon spandex knit. These pull-on pants feature pockets and come in crop flare and ankle crop styles. Additionally, JoFit is working on a new Racerback top in a white UV fabric that provides sun protection without being see-through. Design meetings with consumers' involvement play a crucial role in shaping their collections. Despite the constant stress of running a business, the founder finds joy in the creative process and connecting with customers.
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