ENCINITAS — Running Skirts was already known for introducing color and style to women runners worldwide through its website when it opened its flagship store in downtown Encinitas last February.
For the past year, the “unique boutique for the stylish” has supplied thousands of local athletes with the innovative running skirt. Designed to combine fashion and functionality, the skirts flew out of the small warehouse on Second Street for five years.
Christy Baker designed a prototype for the running skirt when her sister Cindy Lynch “roped” her into running her first marathon. “She said she would do it but not wearing ‘those ugly shorts,’” Lynch remembers.
What started as a side job for two sisters has become a thriving business. Baker’s garage in Cardiff was home to the Internet-based retailer until expansion became necessary. “We had to move into a larger space when the demand increased,” she said. The company now sees its trendy skirts at almost every major race in North America.
According to Baker’s twin and co-founder Lynch, the skirts and coordinating attire fly off the racks at race expos and retail stores nationwide. Locally, the company’s warehouse was known to open its doors to runners who wanted to drop in to try on the skirts, check out the latest colors and styles, exchange a gift and save on shipping.
“Now our customers don’t have to squeeze in between the racks of inventory and stacks of shipping boxes in order to get “skirted,”” Lynch said. “It was a natural progression into the brick and mortar retail location when the window front space in front of our warehouse opened up in the building,” Lynch said. The former real estate office was thoroughly transformed. “We literally gutted the space and made it into a “pinkalicious” boutique shopping experience, unlike any other specialty running store,” she said.
“San Diego is a huge runners’ Mecca and we have a tremendous following here,” Lynch said. “In Encinitas, Second Street is overrun by athletes every morning, afternoon and weekend,” Baker added. “This is a prime location for us and the perfect time to open our first retail store.”
The entrepreneurs attribute much of their success in running a profitable business to location, enthusiastic customer base and loyal following. “Not only are we located on the thoroughfare for local cyclists and runners, we find the proximity to the highway and beaches is great for drawing additional walk-in traffic and shoppers,” Lynch said.
“It’s going really, really well,” Lynch said referring to the first year as a retail store. In addition to their own line of running skirts and apparel, the store has expanded their offerings to include the owners’ favorite running lines. “We like to offer all of our favorites to our customer,” she said. “We’ve tested it all.”
Baker and Lynch have been running marathons for a decade. The pair run at least three to four marathons and dozens of half-marathons each year. “There’s not a barrier to entry in running as you might find in other sports,” Lynch said. “There’s also a lot of camaraderie.”
The business facilitates the companionship inherent in running and walking to host weekly fun runs every Thursday night beginning at 6 p.m. at the store, 676 Second St. “We welcome walkers and runners of all abilities,” Lynch said.
To celebrate their one-year anniversary, Running Skirts is hosting a fun run and walk with a Valentine’s Day twist from 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 10. “We’ve got some fun things planned for couples and singles including prizes and giveaways,” Lynch said.
“We’re really inspired to grow the retail storefront,” Baker said. We didn’t expect it to be such a success,” she said. “That was a nice surprise.”
For more information, visit www.runningskirts.com.