What is the name of your business and where are you located?
Transcendent Active. Designed in Teaneck, NJ, made in Los Angeles, California.
Tell us more about it!
Transcendent Active is committed to providing women of all faiths, sizes and styles with high-quality, sustainable activewear. Made from recycled plastic water bottles, these activewear staples empower women to move their body while adhering to their values, yet not sacrificing on style. The signature All Day Active collection includes skirts, dresses, tops, leggings, and bike shorts. Transcendent Active believes every woman deserves clothing that supports her lifestyle and faith while fostering confidence and style through movement.
What inspired you to start Transcendent Active?
In February 2019, I had just come back from maternity leave after having my third child. I was designing activewear and loungewear in Midtown Manhattan and thought it was what I wanted. However, after coming back from my leave, I felt stuck and uninspired. What I was designing wasn’t speaking to me. It didn’t match my ethos. I was making fast fashion at such a rapid pace that I never had a second to think about what I wanted to contribute to the world of fashion. But having the time off for maternity leave got me thinking. Maybe I could do something on my own. Start something that matched my quality level and commitment to helping people and the planet. I knew at the far back of my mind, I needed to live out this dream.
Shortly after coming back to work, I was laid off and it was a blessing! I met with an old colleague to get her advice on what my next steps should be. And boy did she have advice for me! She got right up in my face and said, “Aja! You need to do something on your own. You need to design for your community.” I had no idea who my community was, but she sparked something in me that changed my entire life. A few weeks later, I was on a hiking trip in Acadia National Park with my husband when it dawned on me. I actually had 2 communities; my yoga community (I am a certified Yoga Teacher) and my Jewish community. I was going to blend the two and create something entirely new.
After designing activewear and teaching yoga, I started to notice that activewear was often highly sexualized with no regard for actually working out in them. Women’s activewear had become just another product category for selling women’s bodies in a sexualized way. The yoga market was a huge influencer for women wearing skin-tight clothes with little to no fabric. To fit into the yoga community, you had to wear these revealing outfits while posing in a pretzel-like position on a cliff in some beautiful remote place. It was the furthest thing from the yoga that I learned and fell in love with.
The Jewish community is also a huge part of the reason I started Transcendent. I live an observant life and keep Shabbat (a 25-hour day of rest every Saturday) and eat kosher. Jewish law also encourages women to dress modestly, and I try my best to do so. However, I thought the modest activewear clothing that I saw in the market was awful and that I would never wear it. The fabrics were too heavy and didn’t have any performance features like wicking or anti-microbial. The colors and prints were dated, and everything was overproduced overseas with no regard for sustainability. I like dressing more covered while working out, but I still want to look cool. There was nothing in the market that matched my style or sustainable ethos, and I was set to change it.
I immediately started sketching, scouring the market for recycled fabrics, talking to people I knew in the industry, and finding a US factory. This took me into the winter and just as I was about to place my first order in February 2020, Covid hit. I was back to square one. The factory I had found was only producing PPE and all garment production was halted for the foreseeable future. I did what everyone did at the time and became a full-time mom helping my kids with their zoom school, finding fun ways to entertain ourselves at home, and going on awesome hikes to get some fresh air. Then in May, I got a call from a woman I had worked with before with great news. She was from LA and had a connection with a factory downtown that was up and running. She wanted to help me launch my brand. We started production in June, and on August 13, 2020, we launched our first product, the All Day Active Skirt. Since then, the line has grown tremendously. We carry tops, dresses, leggings, bike shorts, layering pieces, and accessories. Never before have I been so proud of a product that I designed!
How is your business different from the rest?
Transcendent Active is not your typical activewear brand. It is a modest activewear brand that caters to women who dress a certain way for many different reasons. To be honest, I don’t even like using the term ‘modest’ activewear because it can be limiting. One could think this brand is ONLY for a certain type of person. However, it’s not.
Whether it is for religion, body consciousness, skin and sun protection, or even style versatility, we have something for you. That’s why I call it EMPOWERED activewear. Because when you consciously choose to wear something that reflects your values, you feel EMPOWERED. We are truly an inclusive activewear brand for all women who seek to bring their inner essence out.
It was easy to not notice the effects fast fashion has on the planet when I was designing from a cubicle in Midtown Manhattan. Coming up with dozens and dozens of new styles at a rapid pace, I never had the time to think about it. I never saw who made them or how they made them. I never saw where the unsold products went. I was just doing my job. I knew that when I started my own line, it was going to match my environmental ethics and values.
Transcendent Active is proud to use recycled fabrics. Our main fabric is from melted-down plastic water bottles. It is silky, uber-lightweight, and doesn’t need to be washed as often because of its anti-microbial features. We also use deadstock fabric. Deadstock is excess leftover fabric from large companies that no longer have a need for it. The deadstock fabric I use comes from brands like Lululemon, Athleta, Soulcycle, and Fabletics and the quality is top-notch. Instead of sending it to landfills, the deadstock is sold to small brands like mine and is repurposed for new use. When it comes to fabric, I use everything that we have. Recently, we took some scrap fabric and upcycled it into hair scrunchies.
I only work with ethical and family-owned factories in LA. In April, I had the pleasure of visiting my factories and meeting the families who own them as well as the craftsmen who sew the line. My Head of Production lives in LA and visits the factories weekly and can walk in at a moment’s notice. They are always operating at the highest level of respect and safety. I also am on the phone with them daily and love that I know the people who are bringing Transcendent to life. You could never do this with an overseas factory.
Sustainable packaging is just as important as sustainable products. All of my packaging is made in Boulder, Colorado, and is fully recyclable and reusable. The products are placed on tissue paper and sealed with a zero-waste sticker. There is no interior poly mailer bag that would just end up in the trash anyway. The future of fashion needs to have a high regard for the planet and Transcendent Active is committed to doing our part.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
There is never a smooth road as an entrepreneur! At least never smooth for that long! And that’s what I love about it.
Life is a journey with hills and valleys and being an entrepreneur is exactly the same. Some days I am feeling really in the groove. Orders are coming in quickly, production is running smoothly, and there is excitement in the air. And some days it’s like pulling teeth. I could have a problem with production, which is always the worst kind of problem.
There might be a delay with an order, or a sample could come in wrong which just causes more of a time delay.
Orders could be slow, and I could be feeling unmotivated. But like life, I need to dust that energy off. Usually, it’s with a midday run. When things like this happen, which they tend to do as a business owner, I constantly remind myself that this is about the journey. The long race, not the short sprint. That always seems to keep me positive and in check.
You have such amazing energy! And your future looks so bright! What are you looking forward to for the future of your business?
There is so much to look forward to for the future of Transcendent Active! I’ve met so many awesome women through pop ups so I definitely want to continue with that, but in addition to the pop ups I would love to transition my workspace out of my basement and into a permanent location. It would be a place I can sell out of, have pop ups, host fitness classes and run Transcendent. I also see Transcendent being available to even more women in new retail stores. And I want to GROW! My goal is to hire more people in digital marketing, social media, collaborating with a designer on a limited-edition project, and finally, last but not least, do more for myself and practice some greater self-care!
What do you love about living in Bergen County?
My favorite thing about living in BC is being so close to nature. Having lived in Brooklyn for 15 years, it was always such an effort to get out of the city and explore the outdoors. Living in BC, we are so fortunate to be close to so many trails. I can be home and then hiking a beautiful trail in less than 30 minutes. My other favorite activity is going to the Ramsey Farmers Market in the warmer months. I love not knowing what fresh veggies I am going to buy. I am big on using my babysitter for a weekday date night. I love the ramen at Naruto Bowl in Teaneck. Afterwards, we either go to Hackensack Brewery and Brix City. They have the best local beer, and the crowd is always super fun.