From yoga to boxing, women athletes are rocking every sport out there and want to look good doing it. But if you’ve ever scrolled through 8 pages of men’s climbing shoes, say, to find the one or two women’s styles, you may have felt the dissatisfaction that French entrepreneur Charles Bonnel sums up this way, “Women are frustrated because the sports market is still too masculine.” His answer: Atheli Sports, an online boutique that aims to be the go-to shop for women seeking high-end athletic gear.
Bonnel and his business partner Carlos Ochogavia saw huge opportunity in the 32 billion-dollar US women’s sports gear market: while 29% of women shop online (as opposed to only 17% of men), most sports gear websites still target the male demographic. For frustrated female shoppers, Atheli Sports will be a breath of fresh air. It has a sleek and easy-to-navigate design, and offers a wide range of products and prices, “in order to avoid blending in with other brands and to not only sell like the popular Nike or Reebok, but also more sophisticated brands like ZEM or YOGiiZA,” says Bonnel.
Bonnel was born in Toulouse but graduated from the prestigious EDHEC French business school before entering the cosmetics business, and explains is foray into women’s athletic ware as a convenient marriage of his skills and his interests. “I used the experience I had gained in the feminine market to help me penetrate a sector that I’m very passionate about–sports.”
Launched June 2014, the website is still just a baby that Bonnel hopes to nurture with the help of funds from new investors. Like any good parent, he is full of confidence and always keeps in mind two lessons from great entrepreneur Steve Jobs: never give up, and know how to surround yourself with the best. “It’s better to try to look like the best of the best, even if you aren’t necessarily there yet,” he says.