Behind the rabbit Apparel Brand

rabbit co-founders Monica DeVreese and Jill Deering run together on a beach

rabbit apparel, a running apparel company based in Santa Barbara, California, was founded by two women—Monica DeVreese and Jill Deering—who met through their local race team.

Their mission was simple: Create premium, running-specific apparel that fits well and provides the technical elements you need on the road and trail without over-the-top tech elements. On top of that, part of the company’s mission is to help build an inclusive running community along the way.

To learn more about the company’s mission and values, we sat down (over Zoom) with Monica Devreese ahead of rabbit’s 5th birthday in April 2021 to learn more.

Photos by Ali Rogers of PRANALENS

What inspired you to create this company?

Monica DeVreese: Jill came to me with the idea. As an athlete, she was frustrated with the clothing options available to train and compete in. And from a career standpoint as an attorney, she was feeling complacent and questioning what she was doing.

Jill said, “I think we should start a running apparel brand.” There was nothing special about running apparel in the industry at the time. The fits and cuts were moving toward athleisure trends but the true runner was being forgotten. And I said, “Let’s do it!”

The running industry is also full of male figures and big footwear brands. The barrier to entry is very difficult, but we never let that bother us. Having worked at adidas and Deckers Outdoor Corporation, I had the background in how the design and development processes work and how to bring a product to life.

We moved quickly and started making products in LA, which is just 90 minutes from where we live in Santa Barbara.

 rabbit co-founders Monica DeVreese and Jill Deering talk on a beach

What is rabbit all about?

DeVreese: We’re a brand dedicated entirely to running. That focus has defined our design aesthetic to be everything you need and nothing you don’t. The clothing design language is very simple. It’s not fussy. It fits and performs. And that’s exactly what we want and what our consumers want when they’re getting out the door.

We also want to stay on the cutting edge of product development and keep refining our fits and encourage people to invite others into the sport.

But more than that, rabbit is also about building community. A rabbit is a pacesetter for the other runners in a race, someone who sacrifices their own performance for the good of the group. Rabbits make racing faster and more interesting by keeping the pace honest up front.

Rabbits have contributed to countless records at every level of the sport, providing the spark that has ignited many of the most memorable performances in running history. Rabbits don’t get much of the glory, quietly stepping off the track before the race even finishes, but they do it because they love running. We’re about helping others through running.

How do you support runners?

DeVreese: We are here to make your life better through running. We want to help you improve in all aspects of your life. Right now we do that by focusing on making your run better with our apparel. We’re also really proud of our perspective on inclusion.

We want all runners to join our team, our rabbit family. Whether you’re just trying to get out the door, whether you’re a mother, whether you run for mental health, whether you’re a professional athlete, we’re here to give you a slice of inspiration to keep you going so you can see the joy running can bring to your life.

To do that, we created three different rabbit teams:

  • rabbitPRO: Professional athletes under contract, training and competing at their highest level
  • rabbitELITE (for trail and road): Amateurs, many of whom are working full time, with hopes and dreams to become a pro.
  • RADrabbit. Runners And Dreamers: An incredibly engaged spectrum of runners. They want to be part of a community and a team. That’s what gives them the motivation to get out the door.

It’s hard to make big changes in terms of sustainability, but rabbit is focused on taking positive, consistent steps. What does that look like?

DeVreese: We want to do better with sustainability, to be more conscientious from product creation, to packaging, to how we get products to consumers and retailers.

This industry can be dirty. It can be overwhelming. We have cool ideas and big goals but we will start with the easy stuff first. It takes a series of small changes to make a big difference but our approach is to look at every aspect of our business.

For example, this past fall we created a wind and water-resistant shell made from recycled coffee grounds. This spring we used more recycled polyester yarns, and we will start to incorporate organic cotton blends. These changes may sound small, but it’s going to take a series of small changes to make a big difference.

Want to hear what our gear testers thought of the latest rabbit gear? Read our spring 2021 review.

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