Julia Graciela Crescini
Julia Graciela Crescini loves sports and started producing sportswear, initially, as a side activity to her paid job. After participating in the Empretec workshop and accessing Empretec Uruguay’s consultancy and advisory services, she realized that there was actually a market opportunity for her business idea.
“The turning point in the history of Oway was when I took the decision to quit the job place where I spent my last 18 years, to devote myself entirely to my business ventures”, recalls Graciela looking back at 2013. She adds: “It was risky, because I gave up the economic security on which both myself and my daughter were depending. I was confident about myself and my business idea, though. I knew that my project would be successful only if I put myself 100% into it.”
Oway manufactures professional sports garments that are specifically designed to suit both individuals and groups who are practicing sports for leisure or for competition. The garments are made through a process of listening and consulting with sports people. This means that the clothing fits the requirements of each sport with greater precision, as disciplines vary in terms of effort and movement. Oway is also the only Uruguayan brand especially designed for athletes with disabilities or special needs. The company also sponsors emerging athletes and sports that are less well known, thus helping them advance in their career and, at the same time, promoting her brand and sport outfits.
The production process involves customers in designing clothes, suppliers in identifying materials and garments, dressmakers and seamstresses in manufacturing the outfits, and athletes, sporting groups and organizations in distribution and marketing. This is what creates the feeling that everyone is part of a community, which goes beyond the product or service.
A particular aspect of Julia Graciela’s business model is that it relies on minimizing fixed costs. This enables her to be competitive and offer good-quality sportswear and accessories at prices that are lower than those of her competitors. She does not have employees, at the moment; instead, she works with a network of companies and individuals – mostly women – with whom she enters into contract agreements for specific tasks (e.g. accounting, communication and social media, small workshops that manufacture garments). It is not surprising, therefore, to discover that the competencies she learned from Empretec and that she has been applying the most in her business are persuasion, networking and planning.
The sportswear and sport accessories market is growing, not only in Uruguay but at a global level. Healthier lifestyles are followed by an increasing number of people who practice sports for leisure and competition: an estimated 40,000 people in Uruguay and more than 1.5 million people in MERCOSUR. Since the beginning of Julia Graciela’s venture two years ago, annual sales have tripled. She is now looking at how to expand her business with short-term and medium-term goals to get the Oway brand known in national and regional markets by forming strategic partnerships with gyms, fitness centres and workshops.