At the 2010 Hawaii Ironman, Kristin Mayer, a regular visitor to the world championship (typically as a fan, but also with one Kona finish under her belt) brought a box filled with tank tops, a tri jersey and some wrist bands, all of which had been given a dose of her own artistic flair. Mayer, a triathlete since 1994, had combined two longtime passions: design and triathlon. Although in the past she had taken on one-time projects (like the flashy pink and blue kit she designed for Ironman champion Michellie Jones), the pieces of apparel Mayer brought to Kona were the first official creations of Betty Designs, Mayer’s foray into custom race apparel. The unveiling was successful enough to prompt Mayer to open an online store run out of her home in Encinitas, Calif., in early 2011. (The company name refers to the slang word for a pretty girl.)
Mayer was out to steer custom apparel into a fresh direction. “I’m obsessed with fashion,” Mayer says. “I profess that’s what I’m trying to do: bring an element of fashion into the triathlon world.” Since her launch, Betty Designs (Bettydesigns.com) has offered triathlon and cycling race kits as well as custom-painted special-edition Kestrel bikes. Mayer’s primary career in design had previously been in publishing (including a role as art director for Triathlete magazine).
“My initial goal was to sell one item a day,” she says. Mayer reports that within weeks of opening the store, through word of mouth and social networking, she was swiftly moving well beyond her goal pace. “My objective was to position Betty Designs as a premium brand. More of a boutique than a store.” Prices of her standard line range from $39.99 for a T-shirt to $99.99 for a race bikini. Mayer, who designed the suit worn by this issue’s cover model, also sells customized designs to athletes and triathlon clubs.
Mayer’s work has a unique blend of feminine and masculine, her logo being a good example: a skull melded with a butterfly and “Betty Designs” written in a font you might expect to see offered at a tattoo parlor. Yet the fashion that Mayer offers is decidedly more appealing to females.
“I’d say about 95 percent of my customers are women. And every woman has a man in her life, so I think that’s become a part of my business as well.”
Mayer’s latest project is a website featuring all of her passions: design, fashion, sports, and gear. Check it out at Bettystyle.com.