Kate Hudson on Fabletics: I wanted to create a brand that was more about lifestyle than fitness

Actor Kate Hudson is not only a success in Hollywood, she’s now a trailblazer in business too.

Having co-founded Fabletics in 2013, Hudson’s athleisure brand is already a sporting phenomenon with more than 1.2 million people having signed up to its business model worldwide.

Diversifying your career, however, is not always an easy task, but the actor-turned-businesswoman knew Fabletics was an opportunity she wanted to embrace — even if it didn’t pan out.

“Risk was never something that scared me,” Hudson told CNBC’s Tania Bryer on the “CNBC Conversation,” explaining how as an actor, she has seen every decision as risky.

“For me, (Fabletics) was like, ‘OK, it was a start-up.’ I felt like there’s a wide space in this market. It’s needed. I feel like women are going to love it.”

“I personally think that there wasn’t a company or brand that was taking the healthy lifestyle with a ‘more fun’ approach, that was more about like doing the best you can, versus, a lot of fitness brands (that) are always associated with professional athletes. Which, by the way, I love, can’t wait to work with professional athletes,” Hudson said.

Kate Hudson and guests celebrating the Fabletics Spring Collection on May 1, 2014 in Los Angeles, California
Kate Hudson and guests celebrating the Fabletics Spring Collection on May 1, 2014 in Los Angeles, California
Stefanie Keenan | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

“Sometimes, for an average woman or an everyday woman or a soccer mom or someone who doesn’t necessarily know how to get into the healthy lifestyle, it can be a little bit intimidating. So I kind of wanted to create something that was more about a lifestyle than an actual fitness brand. And it seemed to really resonate.”

“But the reality is when it comes to risk, I feel… if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. You hope for the best, and we did,” she added.

Luckily for Fabletics, the sportswear group gained international traction and now boasts annual revenues of $300 million-plus, having expanded from its online origins into brick and mortar stores.

Risk was never something that scared me.
Kate Hudson

In March, Hudson was in London to promote the brand, with the group teaming up with POPfit studio to launch its first European Fabletics store. The company already has a number of stores scattered across the U.S.

″(It’s) amazing. I mean like anything, like any adventure that you get involved in, to have success — it’s incredibly rewarding and having a presence in London is really nice,” Hudson said.

“We look forward to really opening a larger store at some point, but in the last year we’ve had some incredible growth for our company here (in Europe) and it’s nice to actually come and talk about it. There’s been so much focus on the States because the growth was so big and now coming over into Europe — it’s really catching on.”

The Fabletics business model

With every business, there are bound to be bumps along the road, and Fabletics is no exception.

On its website, the firm offers a “more flexible” style of membership, meaning customers can either be part of a VIP membership or just shop retail. If people are new to the site, however, to order products, they are asked to take a brief lifestyle quiz, which creates personalized outfit recommendations. Members can then opt-in or out of paying a monthly subscription fee to gain access to new products at discounted prices.

Kate Hudson Celebrates the Fabletics Spring Collection

While having a “more flexible membership” was “incredibly successful” for Fabletics, Hudson admitted that it took time for the concept to catch-on with customers. But, she told CNBC that it was important to have a good product, be authentic and listen in order to gain customer trust.

“You always want to keep your customer — you’re not always going to keep every customer — but customer service is a huge part of us digitally native companies,” said Hudson, adding that it was an area that her firm was heavily investing in.

When asked by CNBC how she has dealt with criticism as an entrepreneur, Hudson said: “You don’t get into a business to not have happy customers. You get into business, to make sure everyone’s happy.

“You also realize too though, it’s kind of a sign of success when sometimes negative things come your way — it means that it’s getting big. So it’s kind of a catch-22.”