Ami Dodd is the dynamic and truly lovely owner and creator of Energie. For lack of a better term, Energie is a pop-up boutique of Athleisure wear that opened in late fall of 2016. But Ami would describe Energie as an experience. She wanted to create a boutique that gave Northern Virginia more of a laid back experience and a positive message of promotion of movement, self love, and community. Says Dodd, “Community has always been a really big thing for me. I wanted a store that was a collaboration of a lot of brands together.” Available through Energie is Athleisure and performance brands, for men, women, and kids, that promote and support people in taking time for themselves to get moving in whatever manner that makes them feel good. Says Ami, “I wanted it always to be more than retail, which is why I have my boutiques primarily in studios or fitness locations and gyms.”
The concept of the boutiques being set up in the fitness spaces was meant as a temporary arrangement until Ami could work through how she ultimately wanted to market her business. To her surprise, it was a perfect fit. Putting her product into these spaces did exactly what she had set out to do. Her shop supported the fitness community as well as her brand and the products she was featuring. Dodd adds, “It is definitely a win-win on all sides. For the studios, it’s a great service for their community. I see retail as a play item. You can touch it. You can feel it. It sparks conversation with people. For example, if you’re sitting in class and you like someone’s leggings or top. It’s a conversation starter that can lead to friendships and connection, and getting people to feel more positive and confident in their own skin that is the foundation of Energie.” It might just be real retail therapy.
Energie is a collection of carefully selected brands. Each garment is what Dodd calls “Ami tested”. She shares, “I have to teach in it. I have to sweat in it. I have to wash it. I have to dry it. And it’s got to have a different spin.” The majority of the curated collection is made by women owned companies and proudly produced in the United States. But it’s even more than just a collection of great performing garments. Ami explains, “Each brand has a story. That alone intrigues me. Each story represents all of the customers on different levels; personal struggles, moms losing their identity, people thinking they’re not good enough. Everyone has struggles. These brands all started out of some sort of need. I think there’s magic in all of those stories.” Ami is so inspired and moved by what people go through and their fortitude to keep going. These stories and the intention of helping builds momentum that is contagious. Says Ami, “That’s why I named it Energie. You can have good energy or bad and both have momentum. You get to decide where you want to go. That’s a big part of me picking the brands. What is their intension? Is it just to sell things to people or is there a helping aspect to it to?” Ami’s plan for Energie never included manufacturing her own line. It was important to her to support the women who were already doing it really well. It remains an important part of her mission to tell their story and create one spot to showcase their products.
In her previous life, Ami served 4 years in the United States Air Force. After her military service, she began going to college as a pre-med student. It was during this time that her father unexpectedly passed away. As death often does, it shifts you. It can reveal truths in your life that you may never have considered before. It was during this time that Ami would joke and tell people, “I don’t really know why I’m doing this. I really just want to be a yoga teacher. That’s really what speaks to me.” But her head was telling her that wasn’t enough. You can’t just be a yoga teacher. That doesn’t really pay the bills. But she didn’t listen. It was during this pivotal moment in her life that she quit school, with three semesters remaining before graduation, and became a full time yoga instructor. Ami shares, “As ex-military, yoga allowed me to break down the walls in myself and I really wanted to do that for others.”
She and her family moved to Hawaii for a very short time that created another shift in her life. “But a shift”, says Dodd,” that had to happen in order for all of this to fall into place.” It was in Hawaii that Ami was moved by the spirit of community and how all of the stores were collaborations of multiple brands and local artisans. She describes the beautiful spaces that, upon walking in, you immediately felt a weight lifted. There were bright colors and fun products that she felt was needed in Northern Virginia. Says Ami, “We have so much stress here and I think everyone is so tightly wound. I thought we needed some sort of space to walk in and just have that freeing feeling right away. That spirit of, ‘It’s ok.’”
Energie began in a little corner of a bedroom in her apartment. It soon expanded to an online store and then transferred into their first pop-up location in Clifton, VA. It has continued to grow through its momentum. Says Ami, “Energie resonates with people because it is filling a void that’s different for each person. I think that’s why retail is kind of dying. It’s not that we don’t want to shop and we don’t want tangible items. I think we’re missing the human experience. We’re totally bypassing the human element and people are feeling that because we’ve become so mass produced and technically engaged. These aren’t bad things but we’re so instinctual still and that doesn’t necessarily work comfortably.”
Ami has always had the entrepreneurial pull. Both of her parents were entrepreneurs and she calls back to high school, when everyone else seemed to know what they wanted to do, but she did not. She opted to go into the military right after high school as opposed to heading straight into college. Early on, she could not clearly define what type of work or business she wanted to build, but being her own boss was the only life she had ever seen for herself. She dabbled with two other businesses prior to Energie, but there was some element of them that just didn’t solidify. It was a particularly frustrating time in her professional life. Says Ami, “Entrepreneurship was always such a loud voice while I was working through my first two businesses. That part I knew was right, but the businesses just weren’t the right things. I couldn’t tangibly grasp what that was. It was so frustrating because I knew I was on the right track, but it was like…you’re almost there. Keep going. Keep going.” She adds, “There never really was a click for me until I entered the fitness world as a yoga instructor. It was this change that was decidedly, 100%, the fit for me. It was nothing I’d ever considered before. It’s like an “on accident” thing. Sometimes you just put the idea out in the universe. When you say, ‘I’m open to whatever that thing is,’ and you don’t hold it tightly, that’s when the magic can happen.“
Ami is a huge fan of art, photography, and design. She says, “I love colors. I love textures. I love piecing weird things together. That’s another thing with Energie that I can do. I’m not obligated to put an outfit together that’s one brand. I can piece together maybe something another person wouldn’t see.” Not limited to apparel, Ami also has an affinity for home fashions. Her long term dream involves Energie expanding into a lifestyle boutique making available, not only Athleisure apparel, but home furnishing and beauty products. Says Dodd, “I think Energie really is a lifestyle. If I were to explain it, it is literally my life. Energie is what I do and I want other people to experience that. Not that my life is a perfect thing to follow; I don’t mean it that way. But I think going through struggles and breaking a lot of boxes for myself and being on the other side of that, I want to help other people do that to. It’s more than just movement and fitness. It’s things that we eat. It’s the way that we create the space for ourselves to come home to and it’s the relationships that we have with each other.”
Energie currently has products available on the online store, but its physical presence is limited to the DMV. But like everything, businesses evolve. Part of this evolution is the potential for franchising. Says Dodd, “I think that anyone who loves that same concept could take this and incorporate it in their own neighborhoods or cities. I think it’s a really easy model to replicate if you have that spirit of community and connection. That’s why it’s so doable. It’s my vision and my dream, but it’s not me. Energie is really not about me. It’s about the communities and the people. It can translate anywhere.” But closer on the horizon is the plan to move Energie into the subscription box service arena. Says Ami, “I want it to be an experience. You open it and you feel like you’re in some sort of wanderlust adventure. And who doesn’t like to get mail?!”
Her personal experience thus far, owning Energie, has developed into some sage entrepreneurial advice. She shares, “Energie has gained it’s own momentum. Sure, I’m behind that in a sense, but I think a lot of the success has caught on because something sparks with people when you talk about it with them. They get excited about it and that excitement has taken Energie where it has gotten so far. It’s almost evolved on it’s own. My only part in that is being open to let it grow organically instead of forcing things.” She admits that she has moments when things aren’t feeling right, but she then takes a step back to let it breathe. It’s in this exercise in restraint that Ami has found so much clarity. She adds, “There’s always a path that just, maybe in that moment, is really unclear. Sometimes you have to let things breathe and watch them from an outside perspective.”
Ami also believes that there are no rules. Support is great and a village is great, but you have to have the drive inside you. Shares Dodd, “I think instinctually and intuitively, everyone has a strong internal voice and guide. Don’t put rules there. Start small. Just start something. It might not be anything like it started. It might turn into something completely different. It might be a new business, or like me, three businesses down the line. But it has to start somewhere. Energie started 360 degrees from where I am now as far as the idea and the people. There’s no book that says you can or can’t do something, so don’t put that on yourself. You have a calling or you have a spark; if it makes sense or even if it doesn’t make sense, and you want to do it, do it.”
Ami is really proud of her relationships with her customers and vendors. Each so essential to making things run. Whether it’s Energie, or teaching, or even your household, it’s the relationships that play such a huge part of being successful. Like that old saying, ‘it takes a village’. Says Ami, “I really believe everything we do takes a village. Sometimes we want to control things so tightly, and I’m totally guilty of that, but when you let that go and let things be, and let other people come in and enter with their own ideas it has no choice but to evolve and grow.” Allowing herself to release control at least long enough to allow other people to become a part of the process has been instrumental in her success. “Otherwise,” says Dodd, “it would just be another store.”
For a list of Energie boutique locations, go to https://www.energiegoods.com/faq-contact-locations