Phat Buddha, the mega fitness brand started by entrepreneur Alissa Benishai, is quickly becoming one of the most sought after niche apparel brands. Now carried by more than 1,000 retailers worldwide, including Bloomingdale's, Phat Buddha is also stocked at a slew of the world's most prestigious spas including the ones at The Ritz-Carlton, The Standard Hotels and The Four Seasons. But that's not all — Benishai is also the mastermind behind the apparel seen at some of the most popular fitness studios as she's designed and manufactured branded apparel for Barry's Bootcamp, Tracy Anderson, Flywheel and countless others.
We stopped by the Upper West Side Phat Buddha headquarters to find out more about the fast-growing, high-end fitness brand.
"These boxes are filled with fall inventory. We're constantly filling orders. Right before you came we sent out about 100 boxes! We're switching warehouses in New Jersey so we're now keeping all the inventory here...it usually doesn't look like this! We're also opening up a new distribution and sales office in London. We already have ones in Miami, Sydney and Northern California."
"This is the conference table we use when clients come in to look at the collection. The candles and fresh flowers help set the mood and I always put out raw almonds — I was inspired by one of my mentors, Elie Tahari, who always has them in his office."
"These are samples for Fall/Winter 2013. We do two collections per year as well as a pop collection for the holidays, but as we grow we'll be adding more."
"We're looking at showroom spaces because we're growing so fast there's no room for anything! That said people like coming here to the Upper West Side because it's calm and they can really concentrate and see the collection in a peaceful, serene environment. We used to work out of a Midtown space and it didn't work nearly as well."
"I've worked hard to make the space inviting. I want the space to reflect our brand so I have plush pillows, candles and these are shots from a promotional video we shot for our website."
"These are some more trinkets that I feel reflect the Phat Buddha brand. I design everything with my mother who used to manufacture and distribute swimwear for major brands like Zimmermann. I research and conceptualize the styles and she does research and forecasting as far as colors and prints. We then put it all together and decide what prints/colors to pair with what styles — keeping in mind past styles and colors/prints that have done well for us that we might want to bring back."
"This is my desk! I always write my to-do lists on paper. I have a handful of mentors and I am always picking up on key things that they do. My father is without a doubt one of my mentors and he always hand-writes his to-do lists. The calculator is another essential. I use it to calculate commission, adding orders, invoices and double checking everything!"
"We're best known for our solids, but more and more people have been asking for prints so...we're making more prints! These are some we'll be launching next year."
"These are some of our bestselling pants and bras."
"A big part of our business is working with fitness studios like Barry's Bootcamp, Tracy Anderson and Flywheel. Everyone wants to brand their workout these days so their teams will come to our showroom and pick existing Phat Buddha styles that they like and we'll add their logo onto them. We also do exclusives for many of our clients. It's very easy for us since we contract our own factories in the U.S., so if a studio wants a particular colorway, print or style, it's not a problem."
"These are some pants we just did exclusively for Tracy Anderson."
"These are some press books and press clippings. We don't have a PR person. I'm very grateful that we've been able to get press organically."
"Some pieces about to get packed and shipped!"