When she founded Still Kickin in 2015, Nora McInerny Purmort—author of the book It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too) and the popular blog My Husband’s Tumor—was inspired by a phrase that appeared on a t-shirt her husband, Aaron Purmort, was wearing when he had a seizure, later revealed to be a symptom of a terminal brain tumor. Now, that shirt helps others who are struggling with sickness, death, or other challenges. Every month, the organization chooses a Still Kickin Hero, and gives them the profits from retail sales of their Still Kickin–branded product and from donation-based workouts with small gyms around the country.
One major athleisure brand has taken notice. Last week, Still Kickin announced a collaboration line of athletic wear in partnership with Lululemon. Though the initial line of eight products—including leggings, tanks, tees, and long-sleeved shirts featuring Still Kickin branding—was made available for sale just last week, it’s already nearly sold out, prompting a reorder and four to five additional products in the works. I spoke with McInerny Purmort about the collaboration, some of which will be available for sale in person during this Thursday’s Still Kickin pop-up at Bauhaus Brew Lab.
How did the collaboration come about?
“Lululemon’s locally based account manager, Kirsten Moran, reached out to us, and we’re like ‘What, is this real life? Are we being catfished?’ We’re obviously so excited because so much of what Still Kickin is about is the miracle of being alive and being able to move your body and doing things with it. It’s very hard as a small nonprofit retail brand to knock on doors of bigger companies and say, ‘This is what we do. We make things and give away money.’ And that’s kind of hard for people to understand, so to have a big company get it and come to us is so exciting and validating.
What was the design process like?
“Because the only words we put on anything are ‘Still Kickin,’ it obviously had to evolve past a green t-shirt (although that’s our core product). We worked with our designer, Chelsea Brink, to figure out how that could come to life in a line of activewear. We’re working on some other items—things that are more lifestyle focused, including a vest and a jacket that you can wear to and from the gym, or to brunch.
“We placed a reorder the moment we got the new stuff—it’s basically already gone, though there’s a few select sizes and styles left. The restock can’t get here soon enough.”
Other than the Lululemon collaboration, do you have plans to add any other new products to the Still Kickin line?
We’re actually working on a holiday collection, including some limited-edition items—not just apparel but items available in sets, including a set of 4 mugs in different metallics, and a new off-shoulder sweatshirt in gold metallic. Those will be available at our pop-up next month at Bauhaus Brew Labs, on December 8. We’re also working on doing Still Kickin blankets with Faribault Woolen Mill, which should be available in January. I want to have a range of products that is always super affordable—a $25 workout, or a free button, or a $10 mug—and I also want to work toward having things that feel more high-end and not just apparel. We’re constantly working on different ways of incorporating the brand beyond just printing those words on something.
“We’re at Bauhaus the second Thursday of every month. Bauhaus is our home base—we had our birthday party there earlier this year, and we did our limited-edition beer with them this summer. It’s a way for us to be there for people to learn about us and for people who want to pick up one of our products in real life—to feel it and touch it, because we don’t have a storefront.”
In other news, I hear you have a podcast launching on November 28 called Terrible, Thanks for Asking, produced in collaboration with American Public Media. What can we expect?
“It’s not a strict Q&A interview format—I’m not interested in that. It’s more storytelling and narrative with an interview aspect. The podcast came from the experiences I’ve had since 2014, the year Aaron died, and I realized a year after he died that I’d spent an entire year telling everybody that I was fine, even people who were close to me, and we do that because we want to protect other people from discomfort. We’re not doing anybody any favors by doing that. I wasn’t helping people help me, I wasn’t having myself really be known, and I wanted that. And I really didn’t even realize I was doing that. I was talking to my sister, I was in her car and had gotten into an argument with one of my brothers. I was trying to explain to her that things were hard, and I didn’t want to make it look easy. And she said to me, ‘You are, that’s exactly what you’re doing.’ It’s not as if I intended to do that. I thought I was being honest—I was still functioning in the world and accomplishing things, but it’s hard to really share how an experience feels, even with people who love you. And that saddens me.
“I have this full inbox of people who are reaching out to me and telling me about this terrible thing that happened to them. They’re telling a complete stranger on the internet because they don’t know how to talk to someone about this. There’s a lot of fascinating conversations to be had about this, and it’s exciting to take some of these stories out of my inbox and help these people be known. I’ve been able to do that for myself and lift that veil and provide an instruction manual to people around me, but not everybody gets to do that. I hope this podcast makes it easier for people to have these hard conversations.”
Preview “Terrible, Thanks for Asking” at americanpublicmedia.org; the 10-episode run airs weekly beginning November 28.
Shop Still Kickin and Still Kickin x Lululemon products at Bauhaus Brew Labs on November 10 and December 8 from 6–9 p.m., at Indeed Brewing on November 16 from 3–11 p.m., and online at stillkickin.co/shop.
More products from the Still Kickin x Lululemon line:
all images Courtesy Still Kickin