Wicki Barszcz and Objex Sports
Objex of Affection
If necessity is the mother of invention, then frustration must be something like its close aunt. Wicki Barszcz, the founder of Objex Sports, might agree. The idea for Objex came to her during one of her regular runs at College of the Sequoias. “I would run around the track and tie my key to my shoelace and I lost it a couple times. And then I’d pull out my iPod and it was just wet from sweat,” explains Barszcz. “So I realized, ‘Boy, I need a good sports bra with a place to put my iPod and my key.’” That was all it took: the simple idea to design a sports bra with a pocket, a place where Barszcz could store her “objex.”
For 31 years, Barszcz worked as a claims adjuster for an insurance company before she started Objex in 2009. An avid runner, Barszcz participated in 10K and half-marathon races, but she never anticipated she would one day own her own sports apparel business. “Oh my gosh, no,” she says quickly, “but I was definitely in the wrong business for 31 years.”
The Objex sports bra was really the first of its kind, set apart by a single pocket, but other businesses were quick to adopt the idea. That’s saying something for Barszcz’s idea, especially since she wasn’t sure how to bring her idea into reality. “I just Googled everything, and that’s how I learned,” she admits. “I just had a thought and I put it into action.”
Barszcz also didn’t know if Objex would appeal to others. But when she and her daughter Alicia attended marathon expos up and down California, it became clear that Barszcz wasn’t the only one tired of losing keys during runs. “Our first event was in Huntington Beach and we probably sold 300 sports bras in eight hours,” says Barszcz. “We were floored.”
Objex began with a single idea and a single product, but the brand has grown to include other designs. “We have a full line now: running capris, running shirts, headbands, performance tanks, motivational tanks,” says Barszcz. While the first idea was her own, Barszcz has listened to the needs and ideas of her customers. “I just listen to my customers on what they like and what they need and I go from there.”While Objex has sold almost exclusively through its online shop, Barszcz plans to expand business in 2015 to sell wholesale to retail shops. “I’m going to pursue as many mom and pop running stores that I can in the U.S.” Until then, she and Alicia continue to travel to expos and marathon events. Even though the product isn’t sold in retail stores, it hasn’t stopped Objex from selling nationally, even internationally. Barszcz assures her customers, “We will ship anywhere.”
Yes, a business must meet the bottom line, make a profit while meeting customers’ needs. While Objex has done all this, it has also challenged Barszcz personally. An introvert by nature, Barszcz says the business has forced her to become more extroverted. When she began Objex, she knew nothing about the fashion industry. “Anybody and everybody that I get an opportunity to talk to about this industry, I do,” she explains. “And everybody has been so warm and welcoming.”
might not be a natural extrovert, she has reached out to many through Objex.
She says exercise has been, for her, “the key component to my everyday living
and it keeps my mind clear and strong.” Now she’s providing a product that
motivates others to commit to exercising with just a little more convenience.
And yes, Barszcz might have been in the wrong business for 31 years, but now
she’s doing what she loves, and she’s doing it with a smile. In fact, she
incorporated a subtle, curving line into her logo, thereby bringing a smile to
the face of exercise.
Objex Sports • www.objexsports.com