By Shannon Scovel
On the full contact roller derby battleground, Micki Krimmel tries to outperform other women on opposing teams in every race. Off the rink, however, she hopes to succeed by bringing women together through a common goal.
As a member of the world-ranked team, Angel City Derby, and an avid CrossFit participant, Krimmel has pursued an athletic lifestyle worthy of sharing with others.
A natural entrepreneur, she had worked with a series of small startups throughout her career, but in 2014, she knew she wanted to pursue a business venture that specifically incorporated her passion for both fitness and empowerment. Since becoming part of the roller derby community nine years ago, Krimmel has embraced athletic identity and worked to lead a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle — interests she hopes to share with others. After just a little research into the fitness industry, Krimmel said the idea for her new business started to take shape quickly.
“I just started to be really frustrated with the fitness industry and diet industry and how it’s marketed towards women to ‘lose weight, get a six pack abs’ and all that stuff that I no longer cared about,” Krimmel said. “For me, fitness was about being strong and powerful and being good at my sport and lifting weights. When I started doing Crossfit, I wasn’t really tracking how much I weighed anymore. I was tracking how much weight I could lift, and that was so profound to me. That shift had occurred without me thinking about it. I wanted to share that experience with more women.”
In August of 2015, Krimmel started Superfit Hero, an inclusive clothing brand dedicated to offering comfortable workout clothes for women sizes XS-3XL. She built an early market for the company through Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform that “allows people to support your idea to get it off the ground,” Krimmel said. “People don’t invest. They essential donate to help out. In return, they get early access to your products.”
The month-long Kickstarter program proved successful, leading Krimmel to open an online store in November. She tested and marketed her leggings within her group of roller derby friends and colleagues as well as athlete ambassadors from all sports, including a woman who participates in medieval combat. Krimmel said she received excellent feedback from her sample of athletes, and then worked to refine the product and create the best fit possible.
While the support from fellow athletes poured in, Krimmel said the biggest challenge involved simply producing the product. Her previous businesses involved digital media work, and she said working in manufacturing operations was a new challenge.
“The biggest surprise is honestly just how difficult it is to make physical goods,” Krimmel said. “I’m amazed when I look around at how much stuff exists in the world. How are we making cars and skyscrapers when it’s this hard to make a pair of leggings? But that’s the challenge of entrepreneurship. You make it work.”
Krimmel has managed to balance her business commitments with her roller derby training, and she said she designed the company around her athletic goals instead of the other way around. Krimmel trains three times a week for roller derby, and she also coaches on the side.
“I think with any job there are days when you feel overwhelmed, but there are people who do this with families, and I don’t have that so I can make this work,” Krimmel said. “If you’re going to spend time on something, at least it’s something where you feel like you’re making positive impact. I have a long way to go.”
On October 20, just over a year after her first Kickstarter for Superfit Hero, Krimmel will appear on “Project Runway: Fashion Startup,” where she will have the opportunity to showcase her clothing and build brand awareness. She will also be experimenting with Facebook ads leading up to the premier of the show as a way to expand to new markets. Krimmel hopes to encourage all women, regardless of their size, to embrace fitness and try new things.
“I have a few visions of what success looks like in the future, but I’m so far from that,” Krimmel said. “It’s so brand new; I’m taking it one step at a time. The first step was the Kickstarter, the second step was solidifying it in the roller derby community. The next step is definitely to see what a broader audience would look like specifically with paid advertising.”
Although her product has been successful so far, Krimmel emphasized the hard work that went into developing and selling her clothing products. She sees that often stories focus on the final result, rather than the months of planning that go into each entrepreneurial project, and she hopes her story inspires others to know that anything can be achieved with commitment and effort.
Krimmel’s own athletic identity didn’t develop until she started roller derby, but she thinks the feminist movement and changes in the perception of fitness could encourage more young girls to start playing sports. Superfit Hero provides clothing for women of all sizes, further promoting the idea of an inclusive fitness culture and motivating others to tackle new goals.
“Honestly, I feel like sports and athletics has such huge potential to help women and men to have fun and really develop strength, leadership, and confidence in a way that our daily life doesn’t offer us,” she said. “I think there is a more positive way to looking at fitness that doesn’t have anything to do with what you look like.”