The Crewroom brand was born in Putney and was started by former elite rower, Kate Giles. Having spent nearly 10 years in a performance training programme and having competed at a high level in her sport, Kate retired but never retired her love of the outdoors and keeping fit. Here's her story...
Aged 18 I arrived at university. After years of trying various sports I decided to make the most of living by the Thames and started rowing.
Initially I wasn’t great but I soon joined Thames Rowing Club where I had the great fortune of training with some of the best rowers in the country. Not long after I started winning races and won a medal at Nationals that year.
Rowing was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. I couldn’t believe that not going out on the water when there were high winds, rain or snow simply wasn’t an option – the training was relentless. I’d been used to training three times a week when I played basketball but rowing made that look like a warm-up. During the week we’d train twice a day which included ergos, Olympic weights, running and on water training. Then, at weekends, we’d lay down around 100km’s of work on the water.
I loved the sport. It was an obsession and every training session I focussed on how I could get better, how I could make the boat to go faster. Rowing taught me how to focus on every single detail but, most of all, it taught me that with hard work and absolute dedication you can achieve great things.
In 2001 I decided to set up a juice bar and kit shop. No one else was doing it and I really wanted a place where all of the rowers could hang out after training. It soon became a regular haunt for many top athletes – on Boat Race day the crews would come in and clean me out of waffles!
Quite quickly it became apparent that there wasn’t enough good kit for rowers. Nothing I found in the general market could cut the muster for extreme training. So, first off, I sketched a jacket, named it the very imaginative ‘Rower’ and worked with Rab in Sheffield to get it made.
One Saturday morning not long after, Julie Aitken from GB Rowing came into the juice bar and asked if I could make a batch for the squad. Well, we’ve never looked back and working with the likes of GB Rowing has really pushed us to be the best that we can be. This initial order led to us launching our first jacket and developing our first range of fabrics.
Giving up rowing and starting a business was great but the problem was I became unfit! Running a business meant that free time was limited so I started running. I knew that three lots of 30 minutes a week would help me get back on track but I couldn’t find any kit which I liked. Leggings didn’t have the stretch I wanted and the fabrics were itchy, just like fabrics used in the early days of our rowing kit development. So we researched our fabrics and started making running kit that we all wanted to wear. And that's how it all began!