Expressing a Passion for Jiu-jitsu through a Small Business

Get a Grip 3
Entrepreneurs Lissette Barros and Frecia Padilla found startup success with Get a Grip, LLC offering jiu-jitsu apparel for women.
Entrepreneurs Lissette Barros and Frecia Padilla found startup success with Get a Grip, LLC offering jiu-jitsu apparel for women.

Jiu-jitsu has become a highly popular sport in the U.S. in recent years. Originally started in Japan, the activity is a martial art in which one individual attempts to overpower another through strategic and gentle maneuvers. Entrepreneurs Lissette Barros and Frecia Padilla have played the sport for many years, so they decided that starting a business related to it would help fulfill their true personal and professional passions.

The two business partners operate Get a Grip, LLC in Burbank, California. They formally registered the home-based apparel company in June 2014.

Get a Grip, LLC sells a variety of t-shirts for women interested in jiu-jitsu. These shirts are made with images of certain jiu-jitsu techniques, such as the arm bar.

Barros explains how she and Padilla thought that starting a business in this realm was a wise move for them to make.

“We both practice Brazilian jiu-jitsu,” she says. “I’ve been designing graphic t-shirts for the past 6 years for several retailers. People kept telling me I should design shirts on my own, so it just naturally happened for me to reach this point. I also wanted to be more independent.”

The small business sells its shirts online through a website – www.getagripbjj.com. Barros and Padilla also attend jiu-jitsu tournaments and seminars, where they can find a wealth of potential customers. The shirts go for just over $20 apiece.

“The great thing is there really are no other companies selling grappling shirts for women,” Barros says.

According to Barros, networking is one of the biggest keys to discovering startup success with any small business.

“Before we even thought of selling these shirts, we developed and have maintained good relationships in the jiu-jitsu community. People have a lot of respect for us, and we support others’ events. When people see you out there at events and you see them, you start becoming familiar with each other.”

While the shirts are geared toward those who enjoy jiu-jitsu, Barros says they can really be worn anywhere – at the beach, in the supermarket, or just relaxing at home. In addition to selling t-shirts, the business partners plan to sell caps in the future and also hope to sponsor some of their friends who are competitors in martial arts.

Get a Grip 2Small Business Competition

Barros discusses how competition fits into her specific niche in the martial arts apparel space.

“I do consider myself a very competitive person, but I don’t feel like there’s a specific competitor for us out there,” she says. “Most shirts out there are very specific to men, and lots of others come from martial arts schools. Our shirts have more of a California style, and you can literally wear them for anything.”

She adds that the shirts have already appealed to a wide audience, from teenage girls to women in their 40s.

Small Business Marketing Strategies

To get the word out about the company, Get a Grip, LLC has a website, along with pages on Facebook and Instagram. Word-of-mouth marketing is a big part of this process as well, Barros says, in addition to people just seeing others wearing the shirts at events and asking where they are from.

As for tips for entrepreneurs, Barros believes research is such a big requirement when starting a business that will have a good chance of prospering.

“You have to do a lot of homework yourself in order to learn the ropes,” she says. “We’re still learning as we go. I say it’s important to hire others to do things you don’t know how to do.”

As clients of 1-800Accountant, Barros says she and Padilla have had a wonderful experience working with the national accounting firm.

“Everyone at 1-800Accountant has been extremely helpful, patient, and thorough explaining things to us,” she says. “I would absolutely recommend the firm to others looking for small business accounting support.”

Photo credit: The photographs included in this blog post were provided by Get a Grip, LLC and are used with permission.

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