Olympic Figure Skating Gold Medalist, founder of Tsu.ya clothing line
Recessionista: You’re an Olympic champion, a New York Times bestselling author, and a full-time mom. We have to ask: where did you find the time (and inspiration!) to launch your own clothing line, too?
Kristi: As busy women know, managing the double-shift of real-life and working out can be tricky! As an athlete, women’s activewear was a natural fit and an area I had always been interested in trying. Everything from Tsu.ya is designed for function and style — from workout to workday to weekend — and to fit the bill for the mommy who never takes a day off.
R: And there’s a charitable component, too, right? We hear that a portion of Tsu.ya sales will go to your Always Dream Foundation, which funds programs that empower children to reach their dreams through education and inspiration. Can you change the world with yoga pants?
K: I wanted to build a brand that could really give back to the community, and to find a way to help sustain those programs. This line does that. It gives back to the community and also inspires daily confidence in the women who wear it. That’s what it’s all about: helping women feel good both inside and out.
R: You’re designing clothes for supermoms like yourself…but are there times when you get stressed out, too?
K: I try to take one thing at a time. I choose projects that I know I can be passionate about and also know I’ll be able to put the time and energy into. My family is priority and my kids are everything to me, so making sure they’re looked after and have what they need is number one; doing all of this other stuff is icing on the cake! It’s a tough balance, though, and I think any mom out there knows you have to budget your time.
R: Which is more difficult: starting a business or landing a triple-axel?
K: I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy starting my own brand. There’s been a lot of learning along the way. And really, they’re not so different! Being a professional athlete taught me to prioritize, to have a goal and to stay focused on it, and to get things done efficiently. Being motivated by those goals and that there’s a reward at the end of all of the work — that’s what keeps me going.
R: What other lessons did you learn from your days on the ice that have helped with your new role as bosslady?
K: In one of my first skating competitions ever, I placed eleventh out of only twelve skaters. I was only 7-years-old at the time and I didn’t understand why I didn’t get a medal…until they told me medals were only for the top three finishers. So the next time, I knew I had to compete so that I could get in the top three and get a medal of my own. It taught me the value of learning from your experiences, and using those experiences to get better.
R: Tsu.ya features 18-pieces for fall, including yoga pants, leggings, jackets, t-shirts, and tops. Which are your faves?
K: I love the INSTINCT Jacket. It’s lined with animal print for a fun pop of personality. It’s really versatile: I’ve worn it over jeans or leggings, or even out to dinner with nice pants. Plus, it travels well, which is a must. My other fave is from the “Flirt” line. It’s a ruffled look with pants and a matching jacket with these super fun details that really make it feminine.
R: The line launched in Lord & Taylor on New York City’s annual Fashion’s Night Out. Were you worried you’d get lost in all of the excitement?
K: It worked out so well! We knew we wanted to launch in the fall so this was an exciting time for it to happen. We were really glad to be included in that huge night for them. It was a big night for fashion and for Tsu.ya!
R: Tsu.ya — that’s not a name you see everyday. Where does it come from?
K: It’s my middle name, and also my grandmother’s name. We have a long history of strong women in my family, and I wanted to honor that along with my Japanese heritage.