Karen D. Fultz is the designer and founder of ObservaMé®, LLC which manufactures and sells athletic apparel from its facility located in Tampa, Florida (the company is registered as a Women Business Enterprise (WBE) by the Women Business Enterprise National Council and with the United States Department of Commerce Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) Made in USA). ObservaMé® has designed and submitted for patent registration, a dry-fit active apparel line with a wrist opening for performance devices and watches. After a year of research and development, in 2016, Karen D. Fultz-Robinson, who was born and raised on the west side of Detroit, Michigan, launched ObservaMé®, a one-of-a-kind line of athletic and athleisure professional apparel. Although located in Tampa, Florida, the company serves consumers nationally and internationally through an e-commerce distribution system. Fultz-Robinson, an attorney and former Thomas M. Cooley law school assistant dean now fashion designer, earned her bachelor’s degree in International Relations at Michigan State University and juris doctor from Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
As a marathon runner, Fultz-Robinson knows that training happens under many weather conditions (especially fall and winter temperatures) and access to fitness tracking devices should not be a distraction. The ObservaMé® design concept was born during a 15-mile run and after constant aggravation from tugging at the sleeve of the shirt to gauge distance, heart rate, pace and time for the training. Fultz-Robinson developed sketches and assembled a legal team to help her put together the mock-ups and final patterns. Today, through Fultz-Robinson’s innovation and leadership, the product line has grown to include the signature shirts along with vests and performance pants and a variety of accessories. The ObservaMé® apparel line for men includes half-zip and crewneck shirts, hoodies, vests, full-zip jackets with hoods and performance pants. Women’s athletic/athleisure wear includes half-zip and V-neck shirts, full-zip jackets with hoods (with a collar and/or high/low option), vests, hoodies, and long and capris style pants. The designs include high quality sustainable fabrics which include dry wick properties to prevent chaffing but maintain the soft and supple feel expected by high energy exertion performers. ObservaMé®’s brand name was also chosen by Fultz-Robinson to explain the company’s purpose for its customers. ObservaMé® means “watch me” in Spanish.
Through social media, print, trade shows, and television marketing, ObservaMé® reaches its targeted audiences: athletes and healthy lifestyle journeyers. ObservaMé® has successfully implemented several initiatives to push its products to the mainstream consumer markets through its publication in British Vogue, Michigan Chronicle, Atlanta Voice, Women’s Running Magazine, Hustle Mama Magazine, Tatler Magazine and multiple television appearances. The company has also partnered with a social media influencer to advertise its brand and products. To match its international marketing, ObservaMé® refuses to be limited by local brick and mortar. The company’s reach to the buying public has been achieved by on-line marketing and sales.
“I am most proud of my design of our patent watch opening design. There was nothing in the marketplace to serve the need to monitor your active living performance without interruption until ObservaMé. I am proud of my courage and sacrifice to develop a business from the ground up and stand in a class of an extremely few (black female manufacturer of my own designs) to drive it to the mainstream marketplace around the world.”
This is her interview:
- What has been the greatest challenge getting your idea from your head to something tangible?
The greatest challenge has been creating brand loyalty in a well known ecosystem. Athletic apparel is a common clothing selection, but ObservaMé® offers something different, convenient and necessary. Our additional quality product lines offer our clients/customers a variety of options to keep them coming or to stay loyal to the brand.
- How did or are you funding the development of your invention/product?
ObservaMé® to date is self-funded.
- Who are your favorite female creators and why?
Sara Blakely. I am encouraged by her red back pack story. It represents a constant reminder that I receive from my Aunt, which is to be patient, persistent and persevere.
- What’s been the most surprising part of your creative journey so far?
The length of time it takes to convince the world of how amazing it is to own and wear ObservaMé®’s apparel
- What is a typical day like for you?
As a business owner you lose track of when the day ends and when it begins because you live and breathe your dream. I wake up at 5a to get ready for my morning run. I constantly train my body and mind for the day’s challenges. During the run, I talk to God, meditate, plot out the day’s calendar and create a list of “intentions” to complete with the focus of moving the company forward. Next, I stop for coffee at Starbucks before I reach the office to begin the day. I may assist with cutting fabric, packing inventory, or pitch in wherever help may be needed. I make sure to reach out to at least one potential retailer or customer to talk about the brand and get us closer to expanding our revenue base. The end of my time at the office is really a break for me to drive home and then continue my work on ideas or opportunities after spending time with my family. Entrepreneurship is a 24-hour commitment and worth every minute.
- Who have been your role models, mentors, etc?
In this industry, I look up to past and present female inventors and entrepreneurs for guidance and understanding of what I can expect after each turn in my growth as a new brand and new business.
- Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Remain humble and patient in all of your endeavors. Be kind to all as you march up the road to success because you never know what can help you along the way.
- What is the cost and how can we learn more, purchase your product?
We have several product lines which range in cost from $50.00-150.00 depending on selection. We also offer accessories ranging from $10.00-$30.00. All apparel is available for purchase at www.observame.net, www.wolfandbadger.com, and during various athletic events nationally.