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CSU alumni co-found BornFit, an athletic wear company for women and moms

February 10, 2009

When Julie (Warrington) Hill ('95) and Lisa (Haas) Welch ('95) became Corbett Hall suitemates in 1991, it never entered their minds that years later they'd be running a company together.

Julie Hill and Lisa WelchMaternity active wear

It all started with Welch’s quest for athletic wear during her first pregnancy in 2002. An active woman, Welch was excited to shop for stylish maternity active wear, but found that her choices were limited and not suitable for exercise. “I wanted something I could sweat in,” explains Welch, who studied marketing at CSU. Immediately she saw a business opportunity, and BornFit was brought to life.

Soon Welch partnered up with Hill, and the ladies embarked on a learn-as-you-go kind of venture while juggling motherhood and other responsibilities. Welch tapped her sales and business background, and Hill’s experience as the assistant athletic director at the University of Northern Colorado was invaluable. Before long, BornFit was manufacturing overseas and the business was taking off. In the spring of 2007, BornFit became available in stores.

What started as a maternity athletic wear company quickly became something more. “We focused on the maternity market initially, but once our clothing hit stores, we realized that most of our buyers weren’t even pregnant, but just liked the comfort and fit of our clothes,” says Hill. “Now, we’re developing a relaxed fit line in addition to our maternity line.”

Empowering women

From the beginning, Welch and Hill have attempted to make BornFit more than just another apparel company. “We want to empower women to do great things,” explains Welch. Each month, they feature one inspirational mom on their website, and Welch is a frequent speaker at locations where their products are sold. And their commitment to “pay it forward” isn’t just lip service. Every month, BornFit donates 10 percent of profits to a cause that’s touched their lives, be it a charity or a mom in need.

Hill and Welch describe their experience at CSU as one that instilled in them the kind of dedication and fortitude that launching and running a business demands. In late 2007, Welch even turned to her favorite marketing professor, Dr. Ajay Menon (now the dean of the College of Business), to arrange a meeting so that she and Hill could seek his advice on how to continue down the path of success. “I was so influenced by Dr. Menon,” says Welch. “The fact that he took time to talk with us 13 years after we’d graduated speaks to the kind of faculty you find at CSU,” Welch says.

Future of BornFit

“We want to continue to grow nationwide and internationally,” says Welch. To make it happen, the ladies recently hired their first employee another CSU alumna. Jamie Evavold (’08), an apparel design graduate, now serves as the third set of hands at BornFit, helping with everything from the day-to-day operations of the business to designing future clothing lines.

Welch says it is equally important for BornFit to continue to support and encourage women to be active throughout their lives. Hill agrees, adding, “We know how rewarding but also challenging it is to be a mother. Our goal is to inspire confidence in women of all ages. We’re really passionate about that.”

BornFit clothing is sold on the company’s website, across the country, and in a number of local stores.

This article was originally published in Around the Oval magazine. To subscribe to Around the Oval, become a member of the CSU Alumni Association.

Contact: Beth Etter
Phone: (970) 491-6533