Two independent running brands — Oiselle and Janji — are joining forces through a merger.
The Seattle-based Oiselle is a running label led by women and geared toward women that plays up inclusivity through different initiatives. The Boston-based Janji is a mission-driven brand that donates 2 percent of every purchase to clean water initiatives. Prior to teaming up officially, executives at both companies routinely shared information and insights and developed a certain level of camaraderie and respect for each other, according to Oiselle president Atsuko Tamura.
In an interview Tuesday, she declined to disclose the terms of the deal, which was executed by Digsbury Ventures.
The new setup will include an executive change. Oiselle founder Sally Bergesen is taking an advisory role as Tamura continues to serve as president. Janji’s cofounders Mike Burnstein and Dave Spandorfer will stay on at the company, which started as a college project in 2012. Matt McCalpin will maintain his role as chief operating office and will now act as managing director of partnerships, supporting operations across both brands.
Bolstering the brand’s partnerships with elite athletes like runner Kara Goucher and Lauren Fleshman remains a key objective at Oiselle.
Tamura said Oiselle, which caters to female runners, had been looking for an opportunity to have access to capital to grow the company. Janji’s experience in operations, data analytics and how they measure the effectiveness of their e-commerce site were appealing, she said.
Layoffs are not planned at Oiselle, an 18-person corporate operation that also employs a handful of people in the city’s University Village shopping center. The women-led athletic company did eliminate eight jobs late last fall “to adjust to our volume” and in response to the state of the economy, Tamura said. “No additional ones are anticipated at this time by either organization. We are both very lean.”
Through the partnership, Oiselle plans to continue with its direct-to-consumer business, which was built through its site and flagship. “We also like doing strategic pop-ups,” said Tamura, adding that building its wholesale business will continue. Having focused on the smaller specialty stores, Oiselle had left the wholesale practice of pre-booking orders in favor of more of an “at-once model, where the dealers can really service themselves and pick out what they want for their assortments at the beginning of the season, as opposed to planning around our assortments. We plan to go back to more of that wholesale, pre-book model, by having more formal line presentations of our brand and our stories for the season,” she said.