Originally published in The Daily Item Jan. 26, 2015.
MARBLEHEAD — Melissa Rowe Sherwood never thought having a small head would bring her so much business.
After teaching group fitness classes for 13 years, the Marblehead resident and former Swampscott High School track captain had resigned herself to the fact that no headband would ever stay put on her head long enough to keep sweat and hair out of her eyes.
When she decided last year to launch Klara Kelly, her own fitness apparel company, her first item of design was a headband that wouldn’t slip off the back of her head, and she couldn’t believe the response she got from fellow female fitness enthusiasts.
“I created it for myself, but I never realized it was such a big problem for people,” said Sherwood. “So many people can’t wear headbands because they can’t stay on their head, and in cycling you sweat so much that you really need something.”
The headband that “legitimately won’t move,” available in several different prints and designs, was more profitable than she dreamed. Since launching in February 2014, Sherwood has set up retail accounts with more than 20 local indoor cycling studios.
Sherwood said retailers love that the headband is one-size-fits-all and easy to display. “Retailers love that it’s an easy stream of revenue for them,” she said.
Sherwood said she has really enjoyed partnering with the studios for marketing the brand, participating in their classes and posting videos of the action on social media.
“It feels really good to form partnerships and relationships,” she said. “My mission is to help other business be successful. I’m trying to make a difference in the economy of this country.”
Sherwood’s goal is to see Klara Kelly in 100-plus studios by the end of 2015. She said she became even more motivated by the comments she received from customers in the last month, about how the headband “really doesn’t move” and how with so many prints, customers want to collect them all.
With her passion of fitness and the fitness apparel industry rolled into one endeavor, Sherwood said the last year has been “one crazy ride,” with Klara Kelly (coined from her mother’s maiden name) becoming like her “alter ego.”
Sherwood said in addition to supporting other business-savvy females, she loves that her two daughters, who also sport the headbands, have witnessed her success with Klara Kelly. “It’s important for them to see that they can really do anything they want to do if they really work for it.”
To check out Sherwood’s headbands and other Klara Kelly apparel, including scarves, fitness wear and tunics, go to www.klarakelly.com.