Woman Crush Wednesday: Emily Ruyle
From domestic abuse survivor to thriving business woman, Emily Ruyle's backstory is what makes her highlight reel shine. And not just the superficial shine of a well-curated social media page. Emily has known darkness. Watch one of her daily unscripted WODBottom Instagram stories, and you'll get a suntan from her glowing light. In the interview below, you'll hear her fun-loving voice and be ready to follow this woman to the ends of the earth.
I first came across Emily through the company she co-founded, WODBottom. As a writer, public relations companies often pitch products that I may be interested in. I can be a little cynical about fitness apparel because it's a crowded market, and everybody seems to call themselves "just like Lululemon, but without the price tag." WODBottom did not do that. In fact, they don't even try to be like Lululemon. They make tank tops with quirky quotes, short shorts, leggings, and really great sports bras. But what I thought was really cool about this company was that 10% of every sale goes to Domestic Abuse Intervention Services. I learned that the cause wasn't just an altruistic effort for a company to do good, but the very reason behind the brand. The beautiful blonde with a megawatt smile who models the clothes is an abuse survivor. Emily put her story out there and now the company posts weekly survivor stories to normalize talking about the unspeakable. I was first drawn in by the cause, but I fell in love with the clothes because they are super comfortable, have a flattering fit, and are well-made with quality stitching and fabric. If this was an interview with me, it would be Confessions of a WODBottom Shopahaulic. But it's not. With no further ado, let's get to know Emily Ruyle.
BB: Emily, will you explain the road map of your life that eventually led to founding WODBottom?
ER: I owned a car wash equipment manufacturing business with my then husband. I learned how to design our website. I never thought of myself as a marketer before that, but I did after. I love learning how to connect with potential customers and find ways to speak to them on a personal level. Sometime after that, I started building Facebook fan pages for business and teaching them how to do the same connecting with their customers. I eventually created a webinar teaching these skills. Because the content I taught was so valuable I was invited to speak at internet marketing seminars in Australia, Singapore, South Korea, and New Zealand. In fact, I moved to Thailand for 2 years to be in a similar time zone as my customers because otherwise I was awake almost all the time with my two babies.
When I met my now husband and partner in WodBottom I was running a full service marketing agency helping mainly small businesses set up and optimize their online presence.
Than (short for Nathanael), my husband and partner, was working as a respiratory therapist at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison, WI. He saw me living my life with a flexible schedule, taking the kids to the pool or the zoo in the middle of the day when he was working. This DID NOT make him happy. So he bought a course on how to sell things on Amazon. At this same time we recently got engaged and started going to CrossFit together. It was through this that we came up with our silicone wedding rings (WODFitters still sells them). I was helping him a little, but with my marketing agency, I couldn’t give WodBottom all of my time…until 6 month later when I closed my agency to work with Than full-time. We were all in!
BB: What inspired the name "WODBottom?"
ER: The name is a contested historical fact. But I am correct in what I am about to share. We were on our honeymoon, driving up the coast of California, when Than was like, “I have a name idea and it really rolls of the tongue…Wodbottom wod bottom wodbottom” it said it a few different times in a weird accent each time. It was hilarious…and you probably had to be there, but that is how the name came to be. "WOD" stands for "Workout Of the Day" in CrossFit…and if you do your workout everyday you will have a nice bottom, hence WodBottom!
BB: Why does WODBottom give a portion of every sale (and 100% of profits from a featured tank every Friday) to DAIS: Domestic Abuse Intervention Services?
ER: Both Than and I knew deep down in our hearts, that whatever business we ended up creating, it would give back. I grew up in a home with domestic violence and I was ALWAYS the one right next to my parents bedroom, hearing everything. I often stormed in trying to stop my father from abusing my mother…it never worked. I saw day after day how much it crushed my mom’s spirit and I also can see the negative effects in my own life to this day. With our amazing customers being mainly women, it seemed like an obvious choice and a cause- one that we felt we could make an impact. Obviously, we can’t stop the men who abuse, but we can educate women in what to look out for, how to ask for help, and we can be front and center letting women know they aren’t alone. We profess the truth that they are worthy of respect, safety, and a healthy relationship.
BB: WODBottom is best known for your "shorties." Why?
ER: About 2 years into building WodBottom, we attended Wodapalooza as a vendor. All day long, we saw women expressing themselves with their shorties- but the designs were not fun. Both Than and I are funny-weird and thought that we could use our sense of humor to create designs that spoke to the interests of the women wearing them. So we did!
Also, as a woman who has been big and insecure her entire life (hello childhood trauma), I have always covered up my legs. Even when living in Thailand and Arizona in the heat, I would fully cover up. Our humorous designs help women take the focus of their insecurities and let the attention settle on the humor of the shorts. Whether its unicorns or dinos, what better way to ease the stress of shorts than by making them fun!
BB: WOD Bottom champions active aging women, and a lot of your market are 40+ women. How do you encourage women of all ages, shapes, and sizes to, as one of your tanks says, "Wear the damn shorts?"
ER: This comes back to the humor of it all. Who doesn’t crack a joke when feeling uncomfortable? Also, using images of women 40+ is important. A lot of brands must think intentionally to use 40+ women to show a wide audience. But our models are just willing women with beautiful personalities; their age is not a factor whatsoever.
BB: This pandemic has been so tough on retailers. Supply chain issues, etc, etc. From an outside perspective, it seems WODBottom has carried on, smooth sailing, with fun social content and regular "new release" clothing. My pieces always arrive a few days after I order in cute packaging with fun little extras. But it only looks to be a cinch. Your small team and you are working your (WOD)bottom's off. You need our support. How can we support you?
ER: Shopping WODBottom.com is a great way to support us, of course! Also, we have a wholesale program. If any boutique owners or other retail store owners would like to spice up their selection of active wear, we are interested.
BB: What advice would you give to other women who are living in a domestic abuse situation?
ER: You are more valuable than what you have been brainwashed to believe. You are not to blame for any part of the violence despite being brainwashed to believe it is your fault. If you are in a violent relationship right now, I bet that it did not happen overnight. It was slow, starting with small put downs to break your spirit just enough (this is abuse too). These were not your fault either. When you are ready to get help, there are resources available. Your local community may have shelter, legal help, and escape plans. It's also important that you tell someone, you do not need to feel ashamed. 33% of women have gone through something similar and without exception you are not deserving of abuse whether verbal or physical. You are 100% deserving of safety, knowing your value, and of a healthy relationship.
Connect with Emily and shop fun, sassy workout attire at wodbottom.com.
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