Two Veteran Hikers Launch Seniq, an Outdoor Wear Line Catering to Women

Last year, Madison Poitinger and Valentina Thompson finished a hike and grabbed a bite to eat at a deli in Salt Lake City, Utah.

As they munched on sandwiches, they felt the lunch was great, but their hiking apparel wasn’t. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have clothing that was athletically practical yet fashionable for post-hike activities? “We felt there were no outdoor products that were functionally performative and trend driven,” Poitinger recalled.

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That’s when they decided to launch Seniq, pronounced scenic, a line of hiking clothes designed for women who like a touch of fashion in their trail life.

The aspiring apparel entrepreneurs didn’t have a background in design or even running a company. But they had been employed at outdoor apparel stores for enough time to know what works and what doesn’t. Poitinger had spent time with outdoor retailer Backcountry where she noticed that the women’s outdoor apparel market was filled with ill-fitting garments, masculine styles and uninspiring colors. “Women want to feel empowered and confident in their clothes, whether it’s casualwear or performance wear. We’re bringing this mentality to the women’s outdoor industry,” she said.

Thompson had worked at Outdoor Voices and later Backcountry, where she was helping to develop the company’s first private-label brand. “I didn’t have a design team. I was kind of like the merchant, designer and planner. I realized if I could do this for a multimillion-dollar brand, we could definitely develop something ourselves,” she said.

More feminine silhouettes can be found in the Seniq collection.
More feminine silhouettes can be found in the Seniq collection.

With that kind of knowledge, the two Ohio-based residents reached out via LinkedIn to fashion-industry people to recommend good designers. In the end, the Seniq founders hired Georgia Newman, a Brooklyn creative whose skills include conceptual and technical designs. It helped that Newman is also an avid hiker, skier and skydiver. “Georgia was like this unicorn we had to have as a part of our team.” Thompson said. “We really wanted to nail the fit.”

Another important aspect for a successful Seniq was the silhouette. “Every hiking pant we have found has a super straight leg that feels quite masculine. So, we are making sure that no style in our collection has completely straight lines. Every style line is curved,” Thompson said, noting bottoms have curved edges and articulated seams for easy movement as well as mesh interior pockets for breathability. There are also versatile waistbands for adjustable fit.

For production, the company found a manufacturer that makes clothing for Lululemon and Arc’teryx, as well as other well-known labels. With everything lined up, the first collection, called the Trail System, was born. It comes in seven styles in a variety of colors, including hot pink (think Barbie).

A tank top has a built-in bra and fabric that wicks away moisture. A convertible Dirtpop jacket has snap-off sleeves, low-profile snaps and an adjustable hem for temperature adjustments. Outer fabric is created with extra abrasion and tear resistance capability, durable water repellent finishing and UPF 30-50 plus sun protection. Some styles have a looser fit for the woman who is more body conscious. With extra fabric left over during production, the design team created a sun hat that covers the neck. Retail prices range from $38 to $158.

The inaugural collection is being sold online at seniqbrand.com, but the Seniq cofounders are reaching out to retailers as they become more established. “There are definitely a lot of interesting boutique partners as well as big-box retailers we are interested in,” Poitinger said.

With a goal of strengthening women’s mental health, Seniq is donating 1 percent of sales to foundations that bring equity to the outdoors and provide mental health wellness resources to the underserved. For their inaugural launch, they will be focusing on Women’s Wilderness and The Mental Health Coalition.

It’s all part of the label’s journey incorporated in its motto: “Some take the road less traveled. Others take the scenic route.”

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