WHEN you wear the Queen B athletics brand, you’re declaring that you’re part of a bigger movement that respects and actively promotes women’s involvement in sport.
So says Brid Ryan, of Carrigaline-based Queen B Athletics, which has recently been announced as the official sports bra provider for the Irish hockey team, who are on their way to the Olympic games in Tokyo this year.
It’s an exciting time for the company, which has been designing functional but fashionable female sports clothing since 2013.
Brid runs Queen B with her sister Aedin, and the brand has long since been endorsed by some well-known athletes at the highest level, including the likes of rower Sanita Puspure, athlete Derval O’Rourke, runner Lizzie Lee, and Gaelic games players Briege Corkery, Gemma O’Connor and Anna Geary, to name but a few.
Queen B has always had huge support from the hockey community (a lot of the team already wear the brand) and the fact the hockey qualifier game recorded the biggest crowd for a women’s international team event in this country — 6,137 people — signals exciting opportunities ahead for them.
The deal was in the pipeline for quite some time, but was ‘top secret,’ said Brid, who said it was ‘really fun’ to launch coming up to the World Cup qualifiers.
The company’s story is a pretty well told one. Brid, the 2012 Cork Rose, is a highly accomplished sports woman. She was part of the under-18 national rowing squad, and still plays competitively, and was also a keen hockey player.
Queen B was born out of her desire to wear fitness gear designed specifically for women, that also looked good.
It’s evolved since then though to be something far greater than just high performing fitness wear.
“Queen B is about producing and designing sports wear for women, but also about using every platform available to us to promote women.
“Our brand symbolises and promotes women in sport and there’s a huge amount of good will in that. We’ve been doing this for a long time and have a huge amount of integrity, which is what sets us apart,” she said.
The sisters are involved and stand over every aspect of the Queen B process, from fabric choice to design, and sustainability is important to them.
“Our fabrics come from Italy and are all lovely and soft against the skin and the pieces are made by a family-run factory in Portugal. It’s important to us that we can fully stand over the process, that it’s responsible and sustainable and that everyone involved is looked after.
“We’ve been working with the same people for a long time on this,” said Brid.
Their end goal is to make a profound difference to women’s sport in terms of being able to sponsor teams and athletes and promote spectatorship. The latter is a massive focus for them and Brid urges people to ask themselves when was the last time they attended a women’s sports event this year.
The 2020 movement, designed to shift our perception of women’s sport by 2020, is working, she says.
“We are seeing record numbers of people in stadiums. But we feel there is always more we can do and ultimately we want to keep that momentum going. We want people to look inwards and ask ‘what can I do?’”
Brid says she couldn’t do any of this without big sister Aedin.
“The idea came from my brain but I included her immediately.
“Her background is project management and she has an incredible brain and is a great problem-solver. We balance each other and pick each up other up when someone goes down. We’ve a fantastic relationship,” she said.
The girls — who also have two brothers — have their parents, Ber and Pat, on board helping out with clerical work, online orders, and in their Carrigaline shop.
In fact, Ber could rightly claim she’s the ‘B’ in Queen B as Brid says she’s sets a great example to them all to be active.
Queen B puts a strong emphasis on customer care and Brid says they love meeting their clients at their Carrigaline showroom and shop.
“We love hearing what people want, sizing them correctly and working with them,” she said, urging people to come and meet them.
And they’re constantly innovating, including a recent design to accommodate a heart rate monitor.
“We might be a small company, but we are mighty,” she said proudly.
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