How we got here…
Ivy Citizens draws inspiration from the experiences of lifelong athletes, including those of co-founder Lisa Thompson. Thompson grew up playing multiple sports in high school and college, and then she invested 17 years on the field as a championship head coach. Then and now, Thompson’s love of sports has meant the minutes of her day move fluidly between sport to lifestyle to professional and back to sport. She loves sports; not just the technical act of playing, but the meaning and feeling behind it all. The moments of perseverance, connection, and the maddening combination of chance and skill.
Despite all the brands in the activewear market, the messaging — and the products — kept missing the mark. Thompson could not find what she was looking for. She had always jumped between brands, as did the athletes she coached. Some brands screamed football or running and could not transition into professional meetings. Others couldn’t nail the cut and fabric. Still others, at first promising with their introduction of transitional apparel, presented yet more frustration with their often unreasonable price points. Thompson, and so many like her, wanted options.
So, in 2015 she made a decision to change everything. Thompson so fiercely believes in the positive work being done by lifelong athletes on and off the field — as competitors, parents, and coaches — she wanted to change the narrative. She quit her job. She went back to grad school. And, she chose to devote her life to finding a way to connect like minded people who believed what she did: we need and want more from the brands we wear.
Amanda Laird Cherry
Co-founder and lead designer Amanda Laird Cherry grew up loving sports, school, theater and fine arts. Her international career is built on a foundational desire to influence the narrative being brought to the world. Amanda firmly believes we say things with our clothing; that it’s more than just putting fabric on your body. With this at heart, fashion design has proven itself a creative and rewarding outlet for Amanda to tell stories with meaning and purpose.
Growing up and living in South Africa, Amanda has always wanted to be part of positive change. She opposed apartheid and wanted to actively embrace the beauty in different cultures. In 1983, Amanda began telling the story of cultural beauty using Shwe Shwe, a native South African textile. Inspired by the Zulu tribe, Amanda fused different tribal patterns into garments. And, it was just the beginning.
Amanda is now one of the most highly acclaimed designers in South Africa. But even while working commercially during the first decade of her career, before she started her own company in 1996, Amanda held her own shows. Throughout her career, she has fiercely maintained her commitment to using design to impact culture.
Like Lisa, Amanda found North America’s image of women (in sport and otherwise) disheartening. Clothing’s contribution to that narrative was what initially drew Amanda into the Ivy Citizens story. She designs from a desire to influence change in that narrative. With a passion that thrives at the intersection of culture and fashion, Amanda’s instincts are perfect for the fusion of sport and design needed for Ivy Citizens: high performance apparel with everyday versatility to support the demands of a family’s all in life.