Kickstarter for functional and fun fashion
FisheWear has a vision to change women’s outdoor wear forever. Founder Linda Leary, who has a long career in logistics, sales and executive leadership in the state, turned her attention to her lifelong passion — fly fishing — when she started the business last year.
Today the apparel company offers products that are designed to be comfortable and colorful, functional and fashionable. But FisheWear — pronounced “fishy wear” with an emphasis on “she” — would like to offer more. So a Kickstarter launch party was held Oct. 4 at the Double Shovel Cider Company in Anchorage to raise money for a new wool collection, including tops, tubes and skirted leggings as well as a “Troutrageous” design inspired by rainbow trout.
The fundraising event, which runs through Nov. 3, raised $7,000 towards its $50,000 goal in the first two days alone. To kick off the campaign, patrons packed into the Double Shovel, sampling hand-crafted, hard ciders from long rows of tables. Bear Mace Bites served sweet potato fries and spicy sandwiches from its food truck outside.
“I love that it’s all local,” said one attendee, Cari Leyva, a former Miss Alaska and now a photographer and makeup artist. She was referring to the group of women — passionate about fishing and style — who came together to conceptualize the product line.
Leary’s biggest fan, however, is perhaps her husband of 32 years, Michael Leary. An avid fisherman since the day he was born, he and his spouse have been fishing together through their entire marriage. While he never had trouble finding suitable clothing, for his wife, he said, it was a labor of love to find gear that would both fit and work in the cold, wet weather.
Waders were especially hard to come by.
“You want it to be thin, you want it to be able to move. It’s not like you’re going out on a snowmachine and sitting, you have to physically be able to move,” he said.
Michael Leary knows a thing or two about snowmachines, having raced in the Iron Dog, using duct tape on his face to prevent frostbite.
Furthermore, the classic idea of “pink it and shrink it” just doesn’t cut it, he said, explaining that it’s not designed for function and fashion and makes little sense for an active woman. It’s just putting pink trim on what is normally made for a man, reducing the waist size, and calling it “girl gear.”
Valerie Walsh, who promotes FisheWear through social media, noted that gear for women has always been available, but products are often plain and dull and look terrible after many uses.
“It’s just nice to have fun,” she said, enthused about the creative patterns and quality materials that FisheWear takes time to choose.
And the entire product line is not just for fishing. Walsh has seen women wearing FisheWear in everyday situations around town, including most recently, both a bartender and a patron who were each dressed completely in the company’s clothes. She also hears similar stories from customers who come in to the showroom on West 41st Avenue in Anchorage.
Meanwhile, Linda Leary, who is the president of Fairweather LLC and the Deadhorse Aviation Center, not only wants functional fashion but encourages more networking opportunities for female executives. Fishing can be exactly one of those opportunities.
“Just like golfing or attending a sporting event, you get time away from the office to get to know people on a more personal level. Always a good thing!” she said.
Stephanie Prokop can be reached at [email protected].