We had the good fortune of connecting with Nika Cleaver and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nika, how have you been affected by Covid-19?
COVID-19 has affected our business in many different ways. There have been many challenges during this time however the silver lining is the importance of ecommerce (and the beauty of a good pivot). Before COVID-19, we were still on a high from the NYC Active Collective Tradeshow we attended in late January. We had some of our dream department and chain retailers interested in our product and they were ready to make large purchase orders. Our business model for 2020 was 80% focus on B2B sales while the remaining 20% was eComm. Everything quickly came to a halt on March 17th when all businesses were ordered to shut down. We were forced to quickly pivot our business model to 100% DTC which made us get creative on how we were going to execute sales. With community being our number one concern along with 10 hours of brainstorming, we decided to develop a virtual platform called, The JIV Studio. The JIV STUDIO is where fitness instructors and health nutritionists teach LIVE Instagram classes and educate our community on healthy habits while in quarantine. We knew our fitness instructors wern’t getting paid as all gyms and studios were shut down, therefore, we came up with a solution. This solution was to pay instructors nationwide to teach on our LIVE Instagram platform. How it works? Profits made from every JIV purchase filters forward to fund the next LIVE JIV STUDIO instructor. We believe mental health is essential and feel responsible to provide a positive + healthy outlet for our community during this time. Giving back to the fitness community is the least we can do as they motivate and inspire us everyday. We launched the JIV STUDIO on 3/18 and have had our best eCom months to date. To properly answer your question, COVID-19 may have slapped us across the face however it has forced us to re-evaluate our business model and think LONG TERM. Our dream retailers may not be in the cards for us in 2020 however we are proving to ourselves that the success of JIV ATHLETICS does not depend on them. We will come out of this smarter, stronger, and surprise – more profitable!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
JIV Athletics is an athletic undergarment company for women. We specialize in our patent pending performance underwear which solves frontal rise (a.k.a cameltoe) within everyday workout spandex. We have now been on the market for 1.5 years and are solving frontal rise for thousands of women nationwide. Most recently we have been working closely with OBGYN’s as many customers have given personal testimonials about how our underwear is helping with medical issues. This is something we are most excited about as it confirms our company mission – “Giving women the comfort and confidence they deserve within their everyday spandex”. We’ve also learned women are now wearing our undergarments with all sorts of pants which gives us a grander market to tap into. To have our product “OBGYN recommended” is the ultimate stamp of approval and confirms we are onto something bigger than we set out for. JIV Athletics was developed off of an idea I had while working for an athletic apparel brand. After much research I learned many women in spandex struggled with the insecurity of “cameltoe” and there weren’t any quality solution products on the market. I had just finished business school and was itching for something more. I’m definitely not the mold to work a 9-5 job so I quit my job, served cocktails at night to pay my bills, and created cameltoe proof performance underwear. 2 years later, JIV ATHLETICS was launched, and today, it is a family run company. Was it easy? Depends on what you think is hard. In my opinion, “hard” is when you loose a family member or best friend. I think if you’ve experienced enough adversity in your life nothing really shakes you. Creating a company with my family has been a dream which we are currently living out. Of course we run into capitol issues, agreement issues, product/manufacturing issues, COVID-19 issues, the list goes on. This is life and as a team, we know how to navigate the challenges together. Call me crazy, but I thrive in uncertainty. Knowing everything must be boring. Example of COVID-19 Challenge: In late January 2020 we attended the NYC Active Collective Trade show. We were on track to get shelf space within our dream department stores which would dramatically change the trajectory of our company. With this said, our 2020 business model was 80% Wholesale and 20% DTC. Fast-forward to March 16th when lock down was enforced, this changed all plans. We quickly executed a major pivot forcing us to change our business model to 100% DTC. We launched a virtual platform called, JIV STUDIO, where we fund fitness instructors across the nation to teach LIVE classes. Due to us being in the health and fitness space, we find it our responsibility to give back to the fitness community during this time. How we give back? Proceeds from all purchases made during COVID-19 are filtered forward to fund our LIVE fitness instructors who are out of work.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I must admit, my husband is into interior design and has created quite a little sanctuary for us. We don’t leave our spot much as we are usually entertaining on our terrace or at one of our family members houses. However, I would say the best time ever would be waking up at our place, having an oat latte on our outdoor terrace, followed by a scenic bike ride all around downtown and the embarcadero. For lunch, we would venture to La Jolla where we would grab sushi at Sushi On The Rock while we gaze at the ocean with a chilled sapporo or white wine in hand. We would then walk Girard street where we would do some fun shopping and perhaps grab a sweet treat at Girard Gourmet Cafe. After we’re tired out from all our walking, we would come back to my place, shower, and get ready for an aperol spritz on our terrace. Depending on the mood, our dinner plans would either be at Panevino Osteria which is walking distance from us or we would hop in an uber and head to Rancho Valencia (Pony Room). That about sums it up!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Tommy Cleaver, Tanys Evangelisti, Tom Evangelisti – They are all Co-Founders Jessie Donahue + Miranda Luebkeman – They are the founders of CTZN which execute all our e-mail marketing
Cole Moser Benny Dam
Nominate someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.