All the Nick Symmonds talk and Oiselle’s vocal stance and internet solidarity has got me thinking about how they treated me last year.
Two summer ago I became a Member of their Volee team. (The team anyone can join basically) They had a big application process and I thought it sounded like a fun opportunity so I applied.
Here’s the deal- you’re on the team. What does that mean? When I joined, your benefits for being on the team were receiving 30% off orders and free shipping. Which was pretty huge because their shipping was like $8! I don’t know if it still is, but WUT. At that time on top of your discount and free shipping, they also sent a pair of shorts, jersey, t-shirt and a cotton zip jacket and then another tank the following season.
In return you are their marketing bitch. They ask you not to post photos of yourself in apparel that is not their own and ask that you push their brand. That’s really organic right? I mean this is a genius marketing move on their part, but it’s played. And it’a about time we moved on from it.
I don’t even know what it means to be on the team now. From the recent article I read, you have to pay $100 to get a discount (I don’t even think it’s 30% or is there even a discount anymore? I can’t keep up) and for that you get a free jersey that you are supposed to wear at races and a spike bag. And I get it- beyond the discounts, you get the “team” side of things- supporting and encouraging your teammates on-line and meeting up at races. The camaraderie of being on a team is what many people are looking for. And that is absolutely a wonderful thing if you are getting that from them. I love to see that happen.
But this is when Oiselle rubbed me the wrong way:
Over 2,000 people applied for the contest, sponsored by Saucony, where you explained a moment in your life where you “found your strong”. I talked about the when I found out I had the BRCA 2 gene mutation and how training for my first half Ironman helped me through making some tough decisions and beating fear. Women’s Running and Saucony narrowed it down to 9 finalists. Once you were a finalist, the person with the most votes won the contest.
At the time, I had been drinking the Oiselle koolaide. Although it was fading. I was quickly realizing I didn’t love how the brand went about a lot of things- you know like when they altered the image of the U.S. women’s 4 X 1500 meter team, replacing the nike logo with logos of the athletes sponsors… WITHOUT consent of the athletes. I’m not here to make an argument about the whole Nike, USATF thing, but what they did was not ok and the original response from Oiselle that I saw wasn’t an apology but more so a bitchy “look at this shitty letter we were sent when we did something we weren’t supposed to do”. I did just go to this post from a link on the runners world article and Sally did apologize. Not sure when that happened, but good for her. What they did was wrong (publicity stunt or not, I don’t know) and when grown ups (or children for that matter) do something wrong, they should just man up, apologize and move on.
So back to me and my contest, because I’m like really self absorbed like the rest of you all- I was of course reaching out to everyone in my network to get votes, because that’s how you win. Naturally I reached out to Oiselle because I was on the team and that was a huge network. They were really weird about pushing to recruit people to vote for me, but more so concerned with if I’d be able to wear Oiselle on the magazine cover. UM, the contest was sponsored by Saucony- of course I wouldn’t be wearing Oiselle. After all if I was an actual sponsored Oiselle athlete, I wouldn’t be applying for a contest like this. My hope though that with the “sisterhood” that they are, they’d get behind me and support what I was doing.
THEN, when I did win- after the photo shoot, the team manager emailed me this:
My response was this:
Yes, the contest was sponsored by Saucony so I was wearing Saucony in the photo shoot.
I love Oiselle, love being on the team and promoting the brand but this was a once in a life time opportunity that I couldn’t pass up- and I don’t think many people would. I will be on the cover of a national magazine – which provides an amazing platform for me not only tell my story but will also drive people to my blog and coaching. This is ultimately a very good thing for Oiselle, considering that I promote all the time. I have lead several of my clients and running friends to the product. While I was in San Diego- I made sure to wear Oiselle while getting ready for the shoot as I knew that would go up on social media, as well as wear it on all of my runs and put pictures up when I was out there.
As I’m sure you know, Kara Goucher will follow my cover of Women’s Running- I’m September and she is October- so there will be plenty of Oiselle love all over her shoot and article since she is a sponsored Oiselle athlete.
I’m sorry if this went against Oiselle ambassador rules, and it’s certainly not something I take lightly but I simply could not pass up the opportunity.
SO, they didn’t want me to pursue this and in the future won’t let athletes on their “team” (Team meaning ambassadors who aren’t sponsored who are actually now paying to be on the “team”) pursue opportunities like this if they can’t wear Oiselle. This is complete BS. Obviously I’m not an elite runner looking for a sponsorship- I had joined their “team” because I thought I liked what they were doing and I truly do like their apparel. But this was my final straw with them. A couple of weeks later I let them know I was done and that was that.
In general I am turned off by any business who is constantly bashing others in their line of work. It is distasteful and not attractive. I have worked with people like this and it makes me cringe. Of course you want to be on top and you want to push YOUR agenda and brand, but if I see that you are straight up hateful to others it makes me think I wouldn’t like you as a person, wouldn’t want to spend time with you and certainly wouldn’t want to support your business. Seems like if you spent all the energy hating on things other people are doing, on perfecting your own model, you’d be happier and ultimately more successful. And people like me would like you more.
If someone were to ask me about other running coaches, I certainly wouldn’t talk badly about another coach- because that’s immature and after all, I am a grown ass woman.
All that being said- I still love my Mac Roga’s and wear them every time they are clean. I just can’t figure out why the person the shorts are named after felt the need to block both myself and my husband on twitter. Something tells me it has to do with Glenn speaking his mind when all this went down.
Haters gonna hate.