Kristen Ostow has gone from riding around with her husband in a 1986 Jeep to riding a wave of success as the founder of Southerndoe, her own outdoor apparel company.
Now she will ride into the Junior League of Tampa's Holiday Market this weekend as the inaugural winner of the organization's Young Entrepreneur Program. Ostow will receive a free booth where she can sell her Southerndoe merchandise before an expected three-day crowd of 13,000 at the Florida State Faigrounds' Expo Center.
Although her line of women's outdoor clothing sells in more than 100 stores in 16 states, the Tampa native and University of Tampa graduate remains excited about being chosen to be part of the annual market.
"This is an incredible opportunity to share Southerndoe with my hometown," Ostow said.
Her success arose from a simple suggestion from her husband, Justin. While they spent the day "jeeping" in the woods with friends, she noticed that all of her female friends wore their significant others' T-shirts.
"I mentioned to my husband that I wished there was a clothing line for girls like me who enjoy being active outdoors but still look fashionable," Ostow said. "He simply responded, 'Why don't you make one?' And that was all it took. We came up with the name Southerndoe on our way home."
The brand promotes "strength is beauty" to its customers. The apparel reflects Ostow's lifelong love of the outdoors, including fishing, hunting, clay shooting and climbing trees. It comes with such slogans as "Keep Your Soul Clean and Your Boots Dirty" and "She Is Not Afraid of Adventure."
The brand appeal is a good fit for the league's goal of developing the potential of women.
"We're always looking for ways to expand our reach, not just to members, but to others," league president Lynette Russell said of the entrepreneur program. "Her mission directly aligns with ours. She's an amazing woman."
Russell added that the market will include traditional favorites such as Coton Colors and Tracy Negoshian and 30 new vendors. The "man cave" will include snacks for spouses who want to watch football while their significant others shop, and there also will be a moms nook to allow moms to take a rest.
The market kicks off Friday with a "Wake Up With the Mayor" event featuring Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.