DESIGNERS WE LOVE: WOLACO
Terry White and Mike Petrakis are revolutionizing compression gear.
As a lacrosse player at Harvard, WOLACO co-founder Terry White was disappointed with the lack of pockets in his workout clothes. "The compression gear that we had been wearing for years was little more than sweat-wicking underwear and we saw an opportunity to do better," says White. "Essentially, we wanted to re-imagine the purpose of compression shorts." This led to a Kickstarter project in 2014 that launched with the North Shore compression short (named after the street in New York where White first lived). It was a huge success: the campaign quickly surpassed their initial fundraising goal by 400 percent. Today, the company offers everything from leggings to hoodies and just recently partnered with Equinox to bring eight of the collection's standout pieces to select club shops.
Here, White and co-founder Mike Petrakis chat about how they stay in shape and the future of the brand.
What was the inspiration behind WOLACO?
White: "The number one reason that I started WOLACO (which stands for Way of Life Athletic Company) was the deep belief that fitness and overall healthy living needs to be looked at as a way of life. Initially, we wanted to find a hands-free storage solution that would open athletes up to a wider range of activities. But in growing our brand, we're focusing on creating products that are not only functional but also have a great design."
Petrakis: "The nice thing about compression gear is that it’s not limited to any one sport and we're inclusive of all athletes. Our shorts and leggings are perfect for gym and studio workouts, but we’re really proud to see the products expanding into outdoor activities, such as hiking, mountain biking, and even used as undergarments for surfing or skiing."
What types of workouts do you do now?
White: "I like to do compact, 30- to 45-minute workouts that incorporate explosive movements such as box jumps, treadmill sprints, and hang-cleans. I also love to run since it's a great way to see the city and can be quick and efficient. My favorite place is along the Hudson River path."
Petrakis: "I ran track and cross country in college (albeit briefly) and I have been surfing since I was a kid, so trail running and surfing are definitely my favorite workouts to do when I have the time. For instance, I try and head out to Rockaway or Long Beach whenever possible, unless it just gets too cold. I was out Sunday morning and couldn't feel my feet in the 15 degree weather. On a weekly basis, I try to maintain a balance of workouts including yoga, spin classes, and weight training. For an early morning workout, Terry and Nick (our creative director) take me through circuits (a mix of sprints and bodyweight exercises) on the West Side Highway."
What are your fitness goals for 2018?
White: "I'd like to take on a big challenge or two this year. One thought is the New York City Triathlon, since I'd like to do a local event and I'm drawn to the mix of running, swimming, and biking. I'm also trying to put more of a focus on flexibility this year and incorporate yoga into my weekly routine. I love any form of hot vinyasa flow. The classes are a meditative experience for me and a great way to slow my mind down and deal with the stress and pressure of being an entrepreneur."
Petrakis: "My goal is to become competitive again. I plan to start running 5Ks and work my way up to racing a half marathon at a 6:15 minute per mile pace. I'd also like to compete in a sprint triathlon over the summer against Terry and beat him."
What's next for the company?
Petrakis: "From a product development standpoint, we have an outer short, a crewneck sweatshirt, an active t-shirt, and a tank in the works that are set to launch over the next few months. There’s a classic seasonality involved with apparel businesses, hitting deadlines for spring/summer and fall/winter categories. We have a different approach. Instead, we’re releasing one product at a time, and we want to make it clear to our customers that we poured our heart into the process and nailed down every detail for each product. We’re not just making gym clothes, we’re making gear for every activity that you do from when you wake up in the morning until you go to bed, 365 days a year. Once we finalize our core product offering, we’re going to start moving into integrating technology, including things like playlists, meal prep, podcasts, and workout apps to help you live your most active and healthy life."