Having a new idea is funny, your head tells you one of three things. It's either a "f*ck yeah, that's it", "Not a chance, who would care?", or "I love it, but where the hell do I start?". The worst thing? It's never clear and you always need self belief to take that leap.
I used to and still do have one of or all of those conversations with myself every single day, I think like most of us do. That new spark of an idea whether its related to a new business, your passion or if you're really lucky and it's both either has the opportunity to be lost in procrastination forever or grow into something amazing that benefits a whole bunch of people.
Stride was born simply out of a desire to make people's day that little bit brighter. In a time of uncertainty when our social lives were more skewed than ever. The products that are known and loved today were well on their way through the design process by the time our first logo saw the light of day, and with that logo came the morning smile and the evening wind down we all needed in the April of 2020.
My name's Toby, and I'm the founder of Stride. A bike guide, ski technician and travel operative by profession, I found myself like many of my friends and colleagues in a world where those three things became completely redundant. No flights and no social sports meant a swift end to what we all knew and loved. All be it temporarily, I've never felt so lost.
"we needed something loud enough to blow any other mats out the water and I think we achieved that in droves"
The idea of these series of blogs, vlogs and podcasts that will start appearing is to give you all a breakdown as to how and why I came to start a business in lockdown that is now in full flow with a loyal following of customers. The struggles, the processes and the learning curves I've been on. Whether they inspire you to take the leap yourself, give you a bit of a laugh or peak your interest in the brand, they're here to be interpreted and used however you see fit. The themes will change and the tones will be incredibly different between posts, but rest assured they'll all be honest, transparent and maybe even some good fun to read and watch.
We all remember when online classes started showing their face. Bad internet connections, sh*t microphones, and cameras that would have given a Nokia 3310 a run for its money. Nevertheless, I wanted in. More than anything else the whole idea of it's endless capabilities intrigued me, and I wanted to learn about it all.
I started messaging instructors that I knew had either started providing classes for free online, or had been toying with the idea. The concept was to built a central place for people to get their morning HIIT and evening yoga with a variety of different instructors, for free.
One trip to fiverr and a shocking logo that cost me £8 later (which turned out had been regurgitated so many times that I started coming across it on Instagram left right and centre) we had the basics of what we needed to get moving, and Stride was born
"despite having hardly any followers, we looked pro as f*ck"
Alana, Lily, Daisy, Jas, Emma and Mhairi. The instructors that gave this brand the legs it needed to start running. We put on 147 live classes during lockdown, all whilst the first range of yoga mats were being designed in the background. We built an awesome little community, groups of people would show up day in day out to our scheduled classes and I can't fault these amazing women for showing up several times a week to bring a smile to people faces. It truly did make my lockdown, and I know the story is the same from so many others.
We needed postable content that didn't look like it'd been taken by a toddler (like most of my photos tend to), this is where Matt Roskilly comes in. Matt is one of my oldest friends. I've known the guy since I was 2 and he saved my arse the inital lockdown. Coming to shoot promo for each of the instructors initially off his own back is one of those things I owe him for endlessly because despite having hardly any followers, we looked pro as f*ck.
Next came the logo, it had to go. It looked like it had been made on paint and it really didn't match the brand image the rest of what we had going on portrayed. In comes Alex from Boredom Kills Creative to completely turnover the brand image by designing me something that resonated perfectly with the direction the brand was going. Simplistic, clean and based (loosely) on a yogi in downward dog he absolutely killed it. Along with that logo came the rad mat designs we worked on together, we needed something loud enough to blow any other mats out the water and I think we achieved that in droves.
"one of the most amazing parts of this whole process is getting to work with so many incredibly talented creatives"
Campaign ideas started flying in (some of my best at around 3am might I add). I'll apologise now for the sheer amount of Christmas content that's about to slap you in the face over the next month, but we're fully getting involved. There's plenty more to come, and honestly one of the most amazing parts of this whole process is getting to work with so many incredibly talented creatives, who will quite plainly tell me what parts of my idea are sh*t and then go away and smash it with what they produce. Watch this space, I'm dedicated to creating some real stand out and fun content over the next 12 months and I want as many people involved as possible.
My initial love for yoga was born out of a year where all I needed was an escape from real life, in a world that at the time I saw absolutely no happiness in. A sentence that sounds mental when I was living on the east coast of Sardinia doing my dream job and living in the sun.
"yoga was genuinely the only real escape I had"
I went through something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, an ordeal that put me a place mentally where there was only one answer. I don't need to say much more on that for now, but yoga was genuinely the only real escape I had in a time when everything felt hopeless.
This blog may feel like it's moving along pretty damn swiftly and I'm definitely coasting over a load of topics that I will delve deeper into in the future. This is my overview, my umbrella over the brand, its development, and how its helped me grow into a person who genuinely believes they can achieve absolutely f*cking anything (except being 6'4, I had to let go of that one...).
Everything you read above will get broken down, analysed and go into in far more detail in future blogs and podcasts. Realistically I'd love to be talking all of these out and probably oversharing until I figure out where the line is, and that's coming, so please stay tuned and share this with your friends. Small business people, dreamers, yogis, creatives. People who are struggling, people who are thriving, people who are just riding the wave and loving doing it. I'm hoping I can provide something valuable for you over the next 12 months.