In 2009 Mia Toose traded her office wear for scuba gear, leaving a rewarding career in the non-profit world to follow her dream of being a scuba diver in the Caribbean. She spent almost all her time in a wetsuit. Her colleagues and customers were women, but all their gear was designed for men. Major companies were missing the mark when it came to women’s needs. She did not know how she was going to do it, but she set out to create her dream wetsuit with a long-term goal of making it available for sale if it turned out okay.
In 2013 she put her ideas in place and spent the next three years researching, designing, testing, and building. She wanted to create a wetsuit that was durable enough to survive all the diving, kiteboarding, paddling, and swimming she was doing, that would also fit her body, keep her warm, use eco-friendly materials and look good. She chose bright colours and lines that accentuated the female form and lined the neoprene with warm, cozy fleece. In 2016 the Truli Wetsuits e-commerce business was launched. Truli Wetsuits is a women's wetsuit company that not only offers high quality, stylish, eco-conscious wetsuits that fit all bodies; but it has become a means to create access to water sports for women by ensuring they have the exposure protection required to participate. When a woman has the appropriate wetsuit that she feels good in, a barrier is lifted in the world of water sports. The business was established in Toronto while Toose was still living in the Caribbean. She quickly learned that the sizes the manufacturer sent her were not inclusive. Something had to change! Building on valuable customer input and feedback Truli Wetsuits now has four designs and a unique size-inclusive system that celebrates all shapes and sizes.
Truli is guided by the principles of Empowerment, Community, and Advocacy. What does that look like in action? It looks like striving to showcase all body types, ages, ethnicities in marketing images, bringing the wetsuits into the community by partnering with local retail shops who qualify as Designated Fitting Sites (on hold during COVID) where staff are trained to professionally fit customers for a suit, and supporting non-profit educators like Sharks4Kids by donating 1% of all sales to their programming, and raising awareness on mental health associated with body image. Toose is currently working on taking the business to the next level to ensure that inventory will always be in stock, custom alterations can be provided and more designs, styles, and thicknesses can be introduced.
The pandemic put a pause on a pop-up tour in collaboration with dive shops and retailers around Canada and the USA to promote the new Designated Fitting Site concept, but fortunately, Truli was already set up for online fittings as women began exploring options to go swimming in their local lakes and beachfronts. Toose has used the pandemic pause to figure out alternative ways to generate the revenue that would have come in from the tour, such as a successful crowdfunding campaign with wetsuit pre-orders in November 2020 and preparing the company to be investor-ready in 2021.
Toose is receiving valuable business coaching from Women Entrepreneurship Centre Associate Director, Sara Bingham to help her grow.
Glodeane Brown is the Founder and Editor of the Culture Fancier blog where she regularly writes about arts and culture events, and interviews creative professionals. She is an arts management professional living and working in Kitchener, Ontario.
The Women Entrepreneurship Centre (WEC), as part of the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University, is dedicated to empowering women entrepreneurs of every age, stage and culture to achieve their business dreams. We believe in fostering leadership. We believe that everyone deserves an equal shot at success. We believe in connecting you with the right people, skills and support to make it happen.
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