S3 Active’s journey from pop-up to permanent storefront

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As a business consultant, Sarween Salih was running on autopilot but was always “super-passionate” about fitness and fashion. She started to teach fitness classes in a gym after work and “very quickly got bored with athletic fashion.” Salih started S3 Active as a pop-up shop in the back of the gym where she led classes, sourcing stylish athleisure products from 10 different brands, and soon had the opportunity to set up a pop-up shop at Washington, D.C.’s Union Market, paving the way for a permanent storefront.

On this week’s episode of Retail Gets Real, Salih shares how following her passion led to her own small business and how she plans to grow in the future.

Sarween Salih (center) in the podcast studio with co-hosts Bill Thorne (left) and Tony Fontana (right)

Sarween Salih (center) in the podcast studio with co-hosts Bill Thorne (left) and Tony Fontana (right)

S3 Active carries just women’s apparel at present; Salih says the next step is to begin offering accessories and a menswear line. “I like to do 100 percent of a job or I’m out,” she says about deciding to quit the full-time job that had provided a safety net for so long. Making use of her contacts, she held a fashion show in New York for the brands she carried, which garnered a solid following. Being able to test her retail concepts was a huge advantage in mitigating some of the uncertainty, and the leap of faith paid off quickly.

Salih sees big expansion potential with S3 Active, and says her ideas keep her up at night with excitement. With a concept she calls “Retail Plus,” she plans to sell products alongside a complete fitness experience including classes like yoga and boot camps, a food and beverage component and a community space where people can gather to work and socialize.

Listen to this week’s episode to learn about what other cities Salih sees her business expanding to, and how she defines success. Check out previous episodes of Retail Gets Real and subscribe to never miss another.

Tony Fontana is one of NRF’s co-hosts on Retail Gets Real. Meet all the co-hosts and learn more about the show.