Hillsboro retailer serves young female athletes

| Print |  Email
Articles - February 2013
Monday, January 28, 2013

BY LINDA BAKER

0213 FOB GamePlan AthleticApparel
Diana Marsden started Aries Apparel in Hillsboro in 2008 to target young female athletes.
// Photo by Sierra Breshears

In 1972 Congress passed landmark Title IX legislation banning gender discrimination in public schools, be it academic or athletic. But according to Diana Marsden, a former broadcasting marketing manager in Durham, gender discrimination in sports still exists, at least in the year-round athletic apparel market for girls. Retailers “aren’t paying much attention to girls,” Marsden says. “It’s usually about boys, for boys.”

To even the playing field, in 2008 Marsden opened Aries Apparel, a Hillsboro-based brick-and-mortar and pop-up retailer targeting young female athletes. Her research appears to be paying off. In 2012, Aries grossed about $1 million. Last year, Marsden opened a second retail location in Clackamas Town Center, and she is exploring the possibility of opening a third store in Seattle.

During tournament season, Marsden says, girls who visit the store from out of town inevitably lament, “‘We really need a place like this in Bellingham; we need one in Boise.’”

Although Title IX became law 40 years ago, the effects are still playing out in the marketplace, says Marsden, adding that her customer base consists of girls whose moms were the first generation of girls to play Title IX sports. “I didn’t have that luxury,” says Marsden, who is 54.

The rise of club sports, which allow kids to play the same sport 12 months a year, is also driving business. In Portland, a mecca for athletic apparel retailers, there are other places to buy select girls’ athletic gear, Marsden says. “But no one is selling it in a concentrated place, and no one is selling it year-round.”

To help grow the business, Marsden follows a simple marketing strategy: Go where the girls are — on the court, in the pool, in the gym. About 20% of revenue comes from pop-up stores, which means her 14 employees help set up shop at about 100 sporting events a year. “We take our product out to soccer, volleyball games, cheer competitions, all in an effort to make girls aware of the store, and then to serve them where they are,” says Marsden.

Volleyball and general workout wear are Aries’ biggest sellers; the store also sells apparel for adult women. But in a store built around gender equality, Aries doesn’t leave the male sex out altogether. Men are Aries’ “tertiary demographic” for marketing dollars, says Marsden. “We love dads,” she says. “They want their daughters being active in sports.”

 

More Articles

5 questions for inDinero CEO Jessica Mah

The Latest
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
jessicathumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

inDinero, a business that manages back-office accounting for startups and smaller companies, recently announced it would relocate its headquarters from San Francisco to Portland. We talked to CEO Jessica Mah about what drew her to Portland and how she plans to disrupt the traditional CPA model.


Read more...

Green workplace 2.0

Linda Baker
Thursday, May 28, 2015
IMG 2808BY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

Reinventing capitalism. Office dumpster divers. Handprints versus carbon footprints. These are some of the ideas panelists and attendees discussed during the second annual Oregon Business “Green Your Workplace” seminar yesterday.


Read more...

5 ways successful people kickstart the day

The Latest
Thursday, April 02, 2015
coffeethumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Are mornings the most productive part of the day?  We ask five successful executives how they get off to a good start.


Read more...

The Green Paradox

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY EMILY LIEDEL

Inside the topsy-turvy world of corporate sustainability rankings.


Read more...

Intrepid reporter checks out ZoomCare rebrand

The Latest
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
dentistthumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Like all good journalists, OB editorial staff typically eschew freebies. But health care costs being what they are, digital news editor Jacob Palmer couldn't resist ZoomCare's offer of a three-in-one (cleaning, exam, whitening) dental office visit, guaranteed to take no more than 57 minutes. 


Read more...

It's a Man's Man's Man's World

May 2015
Friday, April 24, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Male tech workers speak out on the industry's gender troubles.


Read more...

5 highlights from the Angel Oregon Showcase

The Latest
Thursday, April 23, 2015
IMG 5069BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The entrepreneurial spirit was alive and well at the Oregon Angel showcase, an annual event for angel investors and early stage entrepreneurs.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS