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Kevin: Welcome to Tri-Swim Coach! This is Kevin and this is episode #57. Upcoming, I have an interview with Karen Allard of SBC Sports and we’re going to talk about some really cool products for triathletes and swimmers. I just want to announce that with the Tri-Swim Coach Essential DVD package, we’re actually offering, now and the next couple months, an off-season workout package. That comes with the DVD for no extra cost. So, if you’re interested in that, just go to triswimcoach.com. What that has in it is a series of strength training exercises to build you up for the next season and it’s a great time to work on that because you don’t have to worry about your next race coming up right around the corner. We also have a series of drills that are specific for off-season practice. So, again, you don’t have to worry about doing as much yardage or distance as you usually do. You can focus on these four drills that I give, and I’ve got the explanations right there on the PDF files with the pictures so you know exactly what you’re doing. So, if you’re interested in that, just go to triswimcoach.com and check it out and we’ve got all the details there. So, without further ado, here is my interview with Karen Allard. Have a great week of training and we’ll talk to you soon.
Kevin: Alright, well I am excited to have Karen Allard on the phone today. Karen is the founder and president of SBR Sports, Inc. out of Irvine, California, which provides products to help triathletes including an anti-chlorine line, Trislide body spray and Foggle (now called Foggies) towelettes to defog your goggles and I met Karen when I was looking for a good anti-chlorine product because I was having some issues, and her company just happens to be called Tri-Swim and matches really well with Tri-Swim Coach. So, I thought we could partner up and gave her a call. That was a few years ago and now we’re finally partnered up. So, Karen, welcome to the show.
Karen: Thank you! It’s good to be here.
Kevin: Yeah, sure! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background, and then how did SBR Sports come about?
Karen: Yeah. Well, when this initially started, I was going back to school to be an architect. So, I was studying for the GRE and I stumbled upon triathlon. So, I got involved in that, gave up my dreams of becoming an architect, and started training. I was training so many hours in the pool. Probably 5 days a week, two hours at a time, and my hair was just getting trashed. There was a product on the market that I was using, and it was an effective product as a chlorine-out, and I found that it would strip the hair. I really wanted something more of a salon quality, which is what I was used to in my shampoos and conditioners. And, so I was swimming, that’s usually when I think of products, usually when I’m swimming, but I came up with this idea of creating a salon quality chlorine-out solution for the hair that would be great for athletes, that would be cost-effective, meaning they could afford it. Because that’s the last thing that athletes want to spend money on is personal care products. For triathletes, they want to spend money on bikes and shoes and clothes and anything to make them lighter. So, contracted with this chemist, I was super lucky because he happened to be a chemist of three of the most popular brands on the market, salon quality, very well known brands. So, he formulated Tri-Swim. We initially came out with the shampoo, the body wash, and the lotion. Then, within 6 months time, we had requests for the conditioner as well, so we came out with that. Pretty much Tri-Swim is our bread and butter, and then later on as I was training, and back in the day in Triathlon to put our wetsuits on, we used to use Pam, because it would help get the wetsuit on super quick. Anything vegetable based or petroleum based is going to ruin the Neoprine and people kept on telling me that and I don’t believe things until it happens to me. Sure enough, one day my entire $500 wetsuit disintegrated on my shoulder. It was like, you peel it off and it would be like tar. So, I thought “I like silicon, I like the consistency of silicon and what we like about Pam is it’s spray factor, so we came out with TriSlide. Again, our same chemist, he created the formula for that, so we combine the two, and that’s been a hit. We found out that not only is it great for triathletes to put on the wetsuits and take them off, but runners and cyclists use it as well to prevent chamois chafing and any sort of skin chafing you might have, or blistering, any sort of anti-friction.
Kevin: I actually used TriSlide a couple of years ago when everybody was using the body suits for swimming, racing. But then, a race in Tahoe everyone was telling me how it takes a half an hour to put on one of those suits.
Karen: Oh, the technical ones?
Kevin: Yeah, the full body suits. And I ended up, I just sprayed myself with TriSlide and it took me just like a minute. I was like “this just slides right on”. It was amazing. It really did work well for me.
Karen: The great thing about TriSlide is that it won’t harm any of the expensive Neoprines or the fabrics that they use for the technical suits. We are the official hair and skin care line for United States master swimming for the TriSwim line, so that gives us access to all of those huge national events that they have and we’re always going and promoting. It’s funny, because I never think of different applications. Sometimes I do, but other times it’s like other people will come up to me and be like “Hey, did you know you can use TriSlide for this?” and one of the ladies, she said “I want to try it just to see if it will help put my technical suit on.” Because usually, it takes them like 20 minutes to put it on. She came back and she goes, “Oh my god, that was the most amazing stuff.” She got them on super quick, so now we market it for that too.
Kevin: So, going back to the anti-chlorine stuff, what’s actually bad about chlorine? Why should we be concerned with it?
Karen: Chlorine? You know, it’s funny, because if you Google chlorine, nobody says really anything bad like it causes cancer. You can’t find anything that will give definite responses to that, but you have to look at “what does chlorine do to your swimsuit?” What does chlorine do to your hair? It changes the composition. So, to leave that on your skin or your hair is just bad. In my mind and everyone else’s, it’s just bad. Today, when everybody’s so health conscious, why have a chemical on your skin? You know, it’s so hard to get chlorine off of your skin and your hair with just using regular soap and shampoo.
Kevin: Yeah, especially your skin. I remember as a kid just always having that smell of chlorine.
Karen: Oh, the smell and then the itches. We deal with a lot of the swim schools in the country. Those poor teachers are in the water for 7 hours at a time teaching these little kids, and I can’t even tell you how many teachers come up to us and say “Please help us, you’re our last resort” because there’s not that much out there for the body wash. So, they try our product and what it does is it attacks the chlorine molecules, sequesters them and bubbles up, foams up, and when you rinse it off, those chlorine chemicals go down the drain. So, that’s why our product works so well.
Kevin: Yeah, I was going to ask you that because it smells so good compared to other anti-chlorine shampoo that I use to use.
Kevin: It really does smell good, and it lasts. It works really well.
Karen: That’s one of the things, is that I am so picky about smells that I put on me, like perfumes or colognes or lotions. I’m really sensitive to it. I like the more natural smells, not so flowery and stuff. So, the fragrance that we picked for the tri-swim line is more of like a citrus-y smell. Wouldn’t you say? It’s like a citrus smell. Very nice, but friendly for both men and women, and kids love it too, which is great.
Kevin: Awesome! What about Foggle? You came out with that fairly recently. What’s the need that you’re fulfilling there with Foggle?
Karen: Well, when I was swimming you had choices of using drops and if you use drops to defog your goggles. If you use drops, what they tell you to do is take the drops, you drop it on the lends and then you find a clean cloth to wipe it off. What’s happening is you’re wiping off the solution. So, that solution is no longer on the lens so it’s really not going to work that well, putting a bad taste in swimmer’s mouths, in triathletes mouths of “Hey, nothing works. Is this really going to work?” With Foggle, it’s really cool because the solution is on a towelette and we picked really nice fabric. We didn’t pick the kind, you know those Kentucky Fried Chicken wipes, when you wipe your hands, you have to do it fast because two seconds later the air hits it and it crisps up. In ours, we used one of the top of the line towelettes. It’s disposable, but actually if you use the Foggle wipe and you clean your lens, so you’re defogging and cleaning the lens at the same time, much like you would do your sun glasses. If you wrap it back up, you can use it 5, 6, 7 times as long as you keep it air tight, so that’s the unique thing about it. The solution, what it does, is it’s drying on the lens. So, you’re not wiping it off. Or, some people say “I use baby shampoo” That’s a pain because you’ve got to drop it in there, swish it around your finger, or then there’s always the licking method, which is what I did. But it’s amazing, I have to tell you, it is amazing how dirty your goggles get. Especially when you do open water swims and you don’t realize that that salt water dries on it, so it gets on the inside too somehow. But Foggle, it not only defogs, but it cleans the lens too.
Kevin: Yeah, it’s good stuff. I think it’s great. Especially, like you said, open water, you don’t want to be carrying stuff like solutions around, and baby shampoo and stuff like that.
Karen: It’s nice too because you can share the wipes as well. We’ve made the cross over with Foggle to snowboarding and skiing. We sell a lot to cycling shops and running stores as well and scuba. We do scuba masks.
Kevin: As far as TriSlide goes, there’s some other uses for that, too, right? It’s not just triathlons.
Karen: Yeah. We originally came out with it for triathletes, but then of course triathletes do running and cycling, too, along with swimming. So, we were getting emails from people saying “Hey this is great for running.” The nice thing about it is that you can spray it in between your toes. When I race, especially when I did Iron Man, oh my gosh, this was before we came out with TriSlide, but I felt after the run that I had something going on with my foot. I didn’t know what it was. I took off my sock and I had the biggest blister I’d ever seen in between my toes. Had I had TriSlide, I wouldn’t have had that. So, we sell TriSlide to ultra marathon runners, ultra Iron Men as well as marathon runners and anybody who chafes, or blisters. The nice thing is you can share the can, so it’s not like touching anything to your skin, it’s not going to melt. It’s a pretty hygienic application and has no odor at all. Also, we sell it to cyclists, we sell a lot to cycling stores throughout the country to prevent chamois chafing. The nice thing about is, is because of the silicon properties, it stays on until it is removed with soap and water. So, you don’t have to reapply it at all, which means that in transition, when you get to T1 when you come out of the swim, your wetsuit is going to peel off so fast, so it’s going to improve your T1 time. People who use it for soccer, for football, anytime you chafe. This sounds funny, but I take it to hot places, like if I go to Hawaii or Las Vegas, and if I’m wearing a sun dress and you know you get that thigh rub. So, you just give a little squirt where your thighs touch and you’re good to go, it prevents chafing.
Karen: But, I do have to say, if you’re going to spray it on your feet or in your chamois area, you need to make sure that if you’re on a wood floor or tile floor, you need to put a towel down so it catches the extra spray. It’s extremely slippery.
Kevin: Good point. A couple of things that I noticed on your website that you pride yourself and your company on, is your products are all environmentally friendly?
Karen: Yeah! We’re really conscious about that. In fact, the manufacturing plant that we have, we have solar panels there. Everything we try and reduce the carbon footprint by not moving it around so much. All of our packaging is recyclable.
Kevin: That’s awesome! And then I also noticed on the actual shampoo that you have a donated that goes to the challenged athletes foundation?
Karen: Yeah! Every year we right them a little check. We like that foundation. I found out about it way back when, when I was racing and it’s just a great organization. It really helps athletes who have been injured, maybe need a hand cart, anything like that.
Kevin: I’ve heard great things. Did you do that race here?
Karen: Yeah, for the athlete foundation. Okay, this is kind of interesting. It’s a really difficult course. I’ve run a lot of courses, and that course… the cool thing is you’re racing side by side with the challenged athletes. I have to hand it to them. I remember doing it a couple times and I’m sitting there complaining on the hills, cause it’s down in San Diego, like at La Hoya and I’m sitting there complaining about the hills on my bike and I’m fine. There’s challenged athletes doing it and they’re amazing.They’re using hand carts and they’re trekking along and they’re fast. I’m telling you. It’s a great event, I have to say.
Kevin: Yeah! I think Robin Williams used to go to it. I don’t know if he still does.
Karen: Yeah, I’m not sure. Yeah, Robin Williams, Scott Tinley used to go. Yeah, a couple stars that would do that.
Kevin: What’s in store for SBR Sports? Anything upcoming?
Karen: Well, yeah. We’ve been just going like crazy selling all over the country. We’re in 15 other countries right now and now we’ve expanded. We’ve been in Europe, but now what we’re doing is we’ve appointed a European president. So, we’re actually going to have SBR Sports, Inc. Europe over there. It’s going to be based in Poland. We have a really great guy, his name is Marcin Login and he is basically going to be us over there. He’s going to handle all the marketing, meeting all the athletes, the grassroots marketing that we do. Here in the States, we’ll go to events and we either pass out Tri-Swim samples or put them in race bags or we do this thing called the TriSlide Foggle Pit Stop and we work simultaneously with the race directors and during race day morning we’ll offer free TriSlide and Foggle for athletes to use to help them. That’s been a nice little way for us to market, but he’s going to be doing that over in Europe so it’s really going to be making a push for sales over there. So, 2013 I think is going to be huge over in Europe.
Kevin: That’s awesome!
Karen: Yeah, we’re continuing to grow in Canada, we’re doing great over there. And then we’re coming out with a skin care line. We haven’t decided on the name yet, but it’s going to be specifically designed for athletes- for athletic skin. Because it’s a little bit different. Athletes have to go through a little more rigorous than just normal people, so we’ve kept that in mind and our same chemist we used, he is formulating some of the most amazing soaps and toners and moisturizers that are going to be equivalent to some of the top skin care solutions that are on the market right now. But again, we’re going to keep the prices affordable for athletes. Because, I really feel that it’s more of like a mission for me. I love athletes. I love what they do. I love the passion. And they pay so much attention to getting there. To getting to the point where they can race, whether it be a marathon or just running every day or triathlon or swimming. They have a passion and they have a drive. But, a lot of them don’t seem to either know, or think about that much that you also need to take care of your skin. Because you’re constantly in the sun, you’re constantly in the chlorine. You’re in the salt water. You’re sweating all the time; it’s clogging your pores. So, we’re coming out with a skin care line and I think it’s going to be huge, I really do. I think right now we’re toying around with how we’re going to be selling it and I think to start off with we’re just going to have it on our website and then we’ll slowly move into the stores. I want to get it dialed in. That’s what we usually do is we get things dialed in before we start making it available for the stores.
Kevin: Yeah. That sounds like a good plan. So, your website is sbrsportsinc.com?
Karen: Yeah. Sbrsports (plural) inc dot com.
Kevin: And they can find out all the information on the products there. I also sell it, I have my own store and I’m carrying the products now as well. So that’s triswimgear.com. If you go there, you’ll end up in my store. You can check out all the products. I just did a video, just posted it on TriSlide and it’s featuring me using TriSlide.
Karen: Thanks for doing that, too! I’ve got to check it out!
Kevin: Yeah. I’ll send that to you for sure.
Kevin: Cool. We’ll thanks, Karen, so much for coming on it was really interesting and good luck with everything you’re doing.
Karen: Thanks for having me! I appreciate it! Anytime!