DTC Apparel Brand Eyes New Category

Ghost Flower athleisure
Photo courtesy of Ghost Flower

Ghost Flower is a DTC wellness and athleisure brand that’s based on stories. Like this one: Susie Peebler was working as a geophysicist for an energy company. She had been active for her whole life, running and playing tennis. Then she suffered a serious back injury. The doctor recommended surgery, but she opted for a more holistic path, studying with various yoga teachers to stretch her back rather than operate on it. In the process, she came across a woman who taught a program called resistive stretching in Santa Barbara, California. The program mixed yoga with acupuncture, stressing that students need to stretch along the same energy meridians that are blocked or opened via Chinese medicine.

Those meridians, Peebler knew, were important. So were the pressure points that her teacher showed her to relieve pain, and her classes were helping. She wanted to track the energy pathways as she did her workout. So she got a yellow marker and started to trace them on her leggings.

“That was kind of the aha moment I would say,” says Peebler. “Here we have the all these activewear lines with these beautiful designs that are nothing more than just fashion. What if I could offer activewear that’s awesome and beautiful but yet these designs truly have a deeper purpose of healing the body. And that was the moment I thought I could design something like that, or hide the meridians within the design so you’d wear them anyway whether you can use Chinese medicine or not. But the seams represent the energy channels in the Chinese meridians.”

Another story explains the company’s name, which has its genesis in a trip Peebler made with her husband Bob from their home in the desert of Ojai, California to Colorado. As the couple drove through the desert near Las Vegas, it started to rain. As the rain continued and the Peeblers continued their trip the desert started to bloom with flowers. They got out to explore and Suzie saw that one of the flowers had clear leaves with visible veins running through it, much like her leggings with the markers to trace the meridians. The flower was called a Ghost Flower. And the Peeblers had a name.

In 2016 Ghost Flower started in full, eventually hiring the original stretching instructor from Santa Barbara. Now it has a full product line based on the five elements: earth, wind, fire, water and wood. The Peeblers started the business with trunk shows, small local boutique distribution and home shows. That didn’t scale quickly enough so the couple reached out to fitness and wellness celebrity Suzanne Somers. She loved the line and promotes it on her Instagram Live channel as well as other social media. Somers’ daughter Violet is now a Ghost Flowers designer.

At first Peebler thought her customers would be older yoga practitioners based in West Coast major markets. But she has been pleasantly surprised that the brand has been adopted by younger adults, particularly millennials.

“The 25 and younger group is working and so they have enough money to afford activewear, and they’re very fitness focused,” she says. “I would say that what we have right now is kind of the early adopters, those who are willing to try new products that are really open to different ideas. So now we’re hoping to get an influx of money from crowdfunding. And we’re hoping to spend the majority of it on digital marketing because we need to get the word out there, we need more people to be trying this. I want to see if I can pull those people who are wearing their Lululemons and get them to try another brand. I also want to jump from the early adopters over to the mature exercise audience.”

Lululemon is one of the brands that has defined the athleisure market, and neither Suzie nor Bob Peebler is comfortable being in that bucket. Bob Peebler sees a day when Ghost Flower can expand into a wellness and athletic brand. He would like to establish a new kind of company that has apparel, retail, retreat centers and other wellness products.

“I would say that our focus right now in the active work side is more performance and recovery,” says Bob Peebler. “What we’re wanting to do is create a place where you bring all this together, where you do have a studio where people can practice, very much tuned to Chinese medicine. We’re also involved in an investment related to oxygenated water and there’s a lot of benefit for example in soaking in this water. We’re also involved with really healthy plant-based foods as an opportunity down the road to pull this all into one brand and one location.”