Kamloops company using athletic wear to tackle taboo

Monique Vek is taking her local company's athletic wear line to Dragons' Den next month in hopes of breaking the taboo topic of menopause.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/M Sport 6 Facebook

KAMLOOPS - A local businessperson is taking her athletic wear design to Toronto to pitch to the panel of Dragons' Den, and she's hoping to break a taboo while she's at it.

Monique Vek created M Sport 6 three years ago, when the equestrian found wearing a western shirt while riding in the summer was too hot and she couldn't help but think she would be more comfortable in her cycling jersey.

"Nobody was making western shirts with technical fabrics at all… which surprises me because equestrians are athletes as well," Vek says.

She says the breathable shirts are more comfortable for equestrians, but athletes in other sports like hockey, golf and yoga have begun wearing the M Sport 6 wear as well.

Vek says she started getting confused when women, who weren't athletes of any kind, began purchasing her shirts.

"Women had hot flashes and used the shirts for that," Vek says. "I’m thinking, just business-wise – what a wicked market."

Vek says she tried to market the shirts as comfortable clothing for women going through menopause and started up a website for that market specifically.

"That’s when I realized it was such a taboo subject," she says. "Watch Saturday night commercials, you can see everything from bladder leakage to how to cheat on your spouse, but not menopause."

Vek says the shirts are still marketed as athletic wear and always will be, but she hopes bringing the idea of menopausal wear to TV will help break the stigma.

M Sport 6 tried out for Dragons' Den when they were still a new company, but Vek says with a new way to market the athletic wear and some revenue to show, this time will be different.

Vek and her family are flying to Toronto later this month for filming, but the new season of Dragons' Den won't be going to air until this fall and the finale won't take place until next year.

"That’s a long time to keep my mouth shut about what happens in the den," Vek laughs.

She says the '6' in her company's name refers to one of the most important values they hold – the six degrees of separation. Vek wanted to know everyone who played a role in her company including the manufacturers.

She opted for manufacturers in Mexico who she knows personally and has a friendly relationship with. She says her business wouldn't be as successful if she didn't have so many people involved and support from her local community.

"This is not just my business, we have so many people that have helped get us here," Vek says. "I have zero business experience at all. I don’t even officially have my grade 12, I have my GED. Where I started was right here in Kamloops."

Visit the M Sport 6 Facebook page here.

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