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Loyalty and Rewards

How Nicole Ari Parker Turned a Quick Fix Into a Fitness Apparel Revolution

Photos: Courtesy of GymWrap

Entrepreneur Nicole Ari Parker’s business story started in her kitchen when she stitched some fabric together. The Gymwrap, a performance headband scientifically designed to wick sweat away from the head, was born.

Now she’s a successful businesswoman who is selling her gear at one of the country’s top retailers.

Parker invented the product to solve a problem. She and other women didn’t want to exercise because they didn’t want sweat to ruin their hair after an expensive salon visit.

Finding success

The product was a hit. Black women, who were the original target audience, and white women alike loved the headbands. In that first year of media buys, the Tennis Channel was her biggest return.

In the beginning, Gymwrap was sold in the hair care aisle and on fitness shelves. That changed when Walmart started selling it. Parker flew with samples to the superstore’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

“I had to present my product and describe my customer like everyone else,” she says. “They gave me the same chance to be a Walmart vendor as everyone else. They run a tight ship. I’m grateful for that entire process.”

Focus on diversity

Parker says it was really important to her that Walmart knows the value of partnering with diverse suppliers.

“They respected a large portion of their customer base,” she says. “All over America, black, Latina, and white women shopped there and they were now making sure these women were not only on the supplier side, but also on the corporate side.”

The Gymwrap is also sold online and at 1,600 Sally Beauty stores nationwide.

Parker’s advice for small business owners looking to make partnerships with large retailers? “Don’t be scared,” she says. “Dream big. Reach out. Show up and ask for what you need to understand. Start!”

Kristen Castillo, [email protected]

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