FINDING jodhpurs that fitted proved difficult for horse rider Sam Ollis – so she launched her own business selling fitness wear in larger sizes.
Sam, 46, used redundancy money to set up online firm Curvy Kit and now hopes to encourage other larger people to get active.
She had been working as a radio controller in a police control room but took a deal to leave and focused on growing her business while working as a groom at stables where she keeps her horse Murphy.
Sam, from Lochgelly in Fife, said: “I’d been trying to get a pair of jodhpurs online. But I was a size 22 at the time and struggled to find any.
“Most shops stop at size 16 and the only jodhpurs I could find were very expensive.
“A lot of the ladies who ride are bigger. Other girls at a gym I go to said they had the same problem of finding bigger sizes and were fed-up having to wear jogging bottoms and T-shirts.”
Sam, who lives with partner Tom Matthews, 51, a self-employed painter and decorator, found horse riding helped boost her confidence and widen her circle of friends.
She added: “It’s a myth to say bigger people don’t exercise. A large proportion do and want to look good while doing it.
“I’ve always been regarded as a plus-size. Even when I was a size 16, it was difficult to buy stylish, good-quality clothes on the high street. Thankfully, the internet and consumers’ buying power have helped change that.
“When I started riding horses, I found it impossible to buy jodhpurs I could afford. And there was also no one selling long riding boots or yard boots with wider calf fittings. I moaned about it for years.
“I took redundancy last year and had to think about what I would do next. I wanted to do something I enjoyed rather than just something to pay the bills.
“I remembered when I went to a gym not being able to find nice workout clothes and having to wear jogging bottoms and a T-shirt when others had lovely Lycra workout pants and tops.
“It made me realise there was a gap in the market for an online retailer who would sell a wide range of fitness clothing. The idea for Curvy Kit grew from there.”
Sam sells everything from riding boots and jodhpurs to sports bras and fitness leggings, from size 16 and up.
She added: “I hope my business will help empower others not to be embarrassed about their size when they are exercising.
“I want larger people to feel they can wear the same type of sports clothes as others who are the ‘norm’.”
When Sam decided to launch her business, she called Business Gateway Fife for advice.
She added: “I attended fully funded seminars on social media, marketing and how to get the most out of the internet.
“The advice was fantastic and the free workshops were invaluable in helping me understand the complexities of running an online business.”
Shona Morrison, of Business Gateway Fife, said: “Being made redundant can seem daunting but it often opens up new opportunities.
“For Sam, her own struggle to find clothing that fitted correctly and that she felt good in spurred her on to set up Curvy Kit.
“Personal experience helped her source products she would wear and interest is growing.”
If you are thinking about starting a business or have recently started, contact Business Gateway Fife to find out how we can help. Call 01592 858333 or email email@example.com