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116 – Sally Bergesen “Birds of a Feather…”

Today’s guest is someone that might surprise you. Ten years ago it would have surprised me that I reached out to her. Her name is Sally Bergesen and she’s the founder of women’s athletic wear brand Oiselle. Turns out she is a naming expert and the more a name stands out the more people will remember it. I am not a naming expert which is why so many people call my company sport skirts! But that’s another story! Over the years, I have watched what Sally has done with her brand and I started to feel a kinship to her because she is relentless in her quest to do the right thing. Even if it makes her look a little wild or rash sometimes. Her underlying mission is to help women and she does it every single day through her work with Oiselle. Why would I want to help promote a woman who makes clothing that theoretically competes with Skirt? Why wouldn’t I is the question I now ask myself. If you fall in love with Oiselle or Skirt or any other brand that helps you get out the door and make your life happier, then I’m thrilled for you!

For all the work we do in this world of online business, I will admit that we had a few technical challenges with our connection so don’t worry if there are a few extra long pauses. We didn’t get disconnected. I will also admit that when there are long pauses, I often talk more and I am sorry that I occasionally kept talking when Sally was trying to chime in! So the interview wasn’t technically perfect, but you know, that’s life. It’s not perfect. Sometimes we talk when we should shut up!

When I confirmed that Sally wanted to come on the show, I thought about what I would like to learn about her. I’ve listened to countless interviews with Sally, most of which focus on the things she does, but few focus on how she became the person she is today. Strong, resolved, with a very clear and unflappable opinion of right and wrong. Willing to put herself on the line to defend that opinion. Driven to connect and create community. A very deep thinker who isn’t afraid to take on a challenge.

So we dig into the foundation and build from there. I’m really happy to call Sally a friend. For a while, I thought of her as a threat, later a competitor, and now a peer. Our missions are not exactly the same but the drive behind them is aligned. We both want to help women find happiness through the transformative power of sport.

Today we talk about:

  • Sally’s life buckets: Work, Family, Sport
  • Sally’s early years growing up a “free range” child in Berkeley, CA
  • Smoking and Drinking and meeting her husband
  • Running: How it saved her life
  • Starting Oiselle
  • Ego
  • What being a mom means to her
  • What Sally would do if Oiselle was gone tomorrow


At the end of the interview, Sally mentions “the craft brewers.” What you didn’t get to hear was our first attempt at an interview when we talked about why we haven’t nurtured a relationship with each other when there are so few peers in our athletic apparel world. I told her about some of my friends who started craft beer brands. Instead of ferociously competing against each other, they would organize bike rides from Boulder to Durango and then hang out and drink each other’s beer. We both decided that we want to be like the craft brewers, minus the drinking part. What you also don’t know is that after we stopped the recording we continued to talk about other more personal things like our tumultuous relationships with alcohol, dealing with petty lawsuits, challenges with manufacturers and more. We decided that we want to do a follow up interview called “the things we didn’t say the first time” – and we will next spring. So look out for that!

In the meantime, check out Oiselle – they make running and athletic apparel for women. They have build an incredible community. They support women. And I support them because in the end, lifting and elevating women will help us all. All right then, you know what time it is. It’s time to get out there and run this world. Have a great workout and I’ll see you next week!