Hey! I’m Ally Patterson, a 31-year-old entrepreneur from Bristol, and I’m thrilled to welcome you to the very first blog post for Avo Activewear. As the Founder of the UK’s first sportswear brand dedicated to women 5'3" & under, I wanted to share a bit about myself, my journey, and the inspiration behind Avo, so you can get to know more about the short girl running this small business!

The Inspiration Behind Avo Activewear

Standing at 5'1", like many petite women, I was frustrated with always folding up my leggings and tailoring tops which sat too low. There had been too many times that I would find the most gorgeous pair of leggings only for them to be far too long, and even when I rolled the bottom up they still wouldn’t look right! This persistent issue was the driving force behind launching Avo Activewear in 2018. I wanted to create a brand that catered specifically to petite women's needs, providing them with premium, well-fitting activewear at affordable prices.

With no business or fashion degree I was certainly out of my depth, but I strongly held the attitude that aside from my time (and savings!), I had nothing else to lose by giving it a go. Initially I was just making the sample leggings for my own use, out of pure interest to see if I could make them or have them manufactured by a professional, but the samples turned out so perfectly I just couldn’t keep them to myself! There was a huge gap in the clothing market needing to be filled and hence Avo, the UK’s 1st activewear brand to design a range of activewear specifically for petite women, was created.

Here I am in 2018 modelling for the first time ever. A completely nerve-wracking experience but I was really pleased with how most of the photos came out.

The Senara Legging - Perfectly Imperfect! (Reserved) - Avo Activewear

The Journey to Avo

Starting a brand is the most challenging thing I have ever done. I launched Avo by myself, learning everything and juggling its growth alongside a full-time job. With no prior experience in business or textiles, there was a lot of determination and perseverance involved, and I have to give credit to Google who was my best friend for a while! From designing products and managing marketing strategies to handling accounts and packing orders, I wear many hats and continue to manage every aspect of the business myself. One day I hope to have a small team around me, but for now working alone means that I can maintain a hands-on approach, and I love communicating with our customers, whether that's through our social media accounts or packing each order by hand with love!

Here's a throwback to 2019 at one of my first stalls. Avo only had 5 colourways of leggings at that time and I was so excited to sell 15 pairs of leggings that day. Some of the customers I met at this event still shop with us!

A Bit About Me

In 2014 I graduated from Swansea University with a 1st class BSc Hons degree in Criminology & Criminal Justice, and later obtained a Legal Secretaries Diploma with the aim of going down the law route. It might seem like I was keeping my options open, but the truth is, I had no idea what I wanted to do!

My career took an unexpected turn in 2016 when I accepted a promotion to Business & Accounts Manager at the family-run physiotherapy practice I had previously worked for. There, I gained invaluable experience in bookkeeping, business management and customer service. It was in 2017 that I decided to play with the idea of starting my own business, and you could often find me dedicating evenings and weekends to researching manufacturers and learning how to build a website and start a brand. As a child I grew up with my dad running his own successful car dealership and I used to love selling clothes and old toys on eBay as a teenager, but I never thought I would actually end up running my own company!

Although I loved my job and my colleagues were like family, I decided to step down from my managerial role in July 2023 following the birth of my baby boy, Bowe. Transitioning to full-time work on Avo has been both challenging and rewarding, allowing me to fully dedicate myself to the brand while also being able to spend time with my son. Juggling mum-life with a business continues to have its challenges, you’ll often find me baby-wearing while packing orders or cramming in emails during nap times! But I do what I do because I love it and am passionate about providing petite women with properly fitting activewear.

Here's me & Bowe when he came to visit me while I was running my stall at the Bristol Running Show in April

The Impact of Avo Activewear

We’ve been recognised by top publications as 'best petite activewear', including Women’s Health Magazine, Heat, and Woman & Home. Personally, I’ve been honored to be named a finalist for several 'Young Entrepreneur of the Year' awards, which has been incredibly motivating.

This photo was taken at the GBEA Finals at Grosvenor House in London, November 2023. It was my second year in a row attending; Sitting at a table with the Directors of some big-time companies filled me with both pride and imposter syndrome!

What's Next?

I'm very excited to be launching flared leggings toward the end of the summer and am working with a designer who is creating some bespoke prints for future pocket leggings. My next challenge will be another top design but I would also love to broaden the range with block coloured sports bras, jumpers and joggers. There are so many products which petite women need, my list is endless!

Thank you, from one short woman to another, for joining me on this journey. I’m excited to share more stories, tips, and insights with you in future posts! If there's anything in particular you'd like to hear about please email your suggestions to hello@avoactivewear.com

I hope you've enjoyed learning a little more about me, you can follow Avo on Instagram and me on TikTok to see more behind the scenes content!

Ally x

Ally Patterson