By combining high fashion and athletics, Whitney Quaresma and Kevin Dorey created BELOFORTE, an eco-friendly athletic apparel brand cut and sewn in California. The Founders shared a vision in building a women’s lifestyle brand that promotes positive change in their local and global community through sustainable practices. Whitney uses her experience in athletics and combined it with her admiration of fashion working alongside Kevin’s branding expertise. BELOFORTE was recently picked up by Revolve and will be releasing their new athletic apparel collection in March. We had the chance to ask Whitney and Kevin about the athletic fashion community, their team, and lessons learned along the way.
What was your inspiration for BELOFORTE?
BELO, at its core, was inspired in our passion for health and wellness. Both of us have such a deep rooted love for taking care of oneself so that we can all live life to it’s maximum potential.
We have always been creative minded people with a lot of drive, and we decided to refocus that drive into a brand and products which promote movement and strong women. We don’t underestimate the power a well styled outfit can have on your mood.
Ultimately, we want to show the world what BELOFORTE really means, and it goes way beyond our clothes. We want to be remembered not only by our core products, but by how we brought the words that make up our name “beauty and strength” into the lives of people all over the world. We believe they should be synonymous and our apparel is created with that in mind.
What are your backgrounds?
Kevin: Worked as a civil engineer prior to a brief endeavor in developing a business associated with wellness. Former athlete, and current adventurer with a passion for people, community and the beauty in the world.
Whitney: Health and Fitness Specialist, Strength and conditioning Coach, Fitness fanatic, Fashion enthusiast! I love helping people find their best selves.
What does the brand mean to you?
BELOFORTE literally means ‘beauty & strength’ in Portuguese. To us, it it means finding your best self through fitness and one’s fashion. It means defying the odds, not giving in, not giving up! Being kind to others, and true to yourself. Shining your best light on the people around you and leaving them with that positive energy and power that we all have inside of us. Living the life you dream of!
Apparel is the one of the easiest ways to express yourself and give people a glimpse into who you are. BELO means, walking out the door every morning with confidence and a purpose, while empowering those around you to find their Beauty and Strength!
How does the fashion and athletic community affect your brand?
The intersection of these two communities drives our business. The athletic community is so powerful, and they are passionate about every aspect of their lives including their active apparel. We were part of this community, and ultimately we saw a hole in the market for active apparel with a more fashion forward aesthetic. We didn’t think there needed to be a clear division. It makes a lot of sense that these two influence each other and overlap in a big way. Everyone wants to be comfortable and look good, and that is exactly what our apparel is about. Brands are now bringing you functional, stylish, transitional pieces that you can wear anywhere! Our aesthetic is very tastefully sexy! You can wear our pieces day and night, out shopping or with some cute heels, as well as to your favorite workout or group class! Everything is made functional for any active endeavor and looks beautiful and unique!
How has your lives changed since launching BELOFORTE?
You always hear about how hard it is to start a business, but until you’ve done it, I think it’s tough to really understand how challenging it can be. What you find however, is despite those things, just how incredible pursuing a dream can be. We work a lot. There are really no days off, but the feeling we get from conceptualizing products, developing them, and working through all of the hurdles is incredibly gratifying. Let’s just say it has been the most beautiful chaos of our lives!
What were some obstacles you encountered along the way?
There were and still are a ton. Everything from building our infrastructure to identifying our sourcing and production partners. One of the biggest hurdles has been getting our product timelines figured out as far as development, sourcing, and production. Right now, our biggest challenge is simply getting the brand in front of as many people as possible.
Describe your team.
Our core team is just us at this point. We work with a development and manufacturing consultant that assist in driving our product development and manufacturing and they are great. In addition, we work with a great PR team that is great at branding, marketing, and promotion. And last, we just brought on a great sales rep to help us reach more customers.
What are they like?
We are all hard working and fun individuals. We find that to be really important. It makes it easier and more enjoyable to take on the challenges of our days. Also, with exception of Kevin, they are all strong, intelligent, driven women.
What is the biggest lesson you learned?
Enjoy each day! There will always be so much to do and sometimes you will have bad news. I have learned to make the best out of a bad situation and push forward. Understanding what is in your control versus what isn’t and simply focusing on doing your best. Making mistakes is inevitable, but making the same mistake twice is not. So learning everyday and applying those lessons to be better prepared for what the future holds.
Describe what it’s like being picked up by Revolve.
It was an absolute thrill. We couldn’t be more excited. Revolve is Whitney’s favorite place to shop. And they are the top destination for today’s generation of women to find trends, inspiration and buy incredible clothes. We were honored that among all the new brands available they put their confidence behind BELO and what we are doing. A dream come true.