Who She Is ... After playing D1 sports at Dartmouth College (field hockey and lacrosse) and majoring in Art History and English and minoring in French (all studies that certainly helped in the run specialty business!) and receiving a Master’s in architecture and landscape architecture at UVA, Sarah Weihman remains active running, skiing and hiking with my family, along with some paddle tennis and tennis. And, of course, as CEO running the company she founded, Paradis Sport.

The “elevator pitch” on Paradis Sport … “We make the best performance underwear for runners, fit-tested by elite athletes and designed for all women, and made sustainably in the USA.”

The inspiration behind Paradis Sport … When the active underwear brand she had been wearing for many years changed its cut and fabric, it no longer worked for her and she noticed many women ranting about the same issues in the reviews section of their website. So she tried every other brand and remained disappointed with the options and mystified that so little attention has been given to this product category. “Given my design background, I wondered if we could design a better product for women,” she says, so she found a talented designer in Vermont who has decades of industry experience and together they surveyed hundreds of current and former D1 athletes. 

The result … After seven prototypes and two years in development, Paradis Sport launched its first product, a seamless bikini, and has been adding new products, ambassadors, colleagues and collaborators ever since. They were particularly thrilled when marathon and ultrarunners told them that their seamless bikini does not chafe over miles and hours of training. “It wasn’t something we had on our radar, so this was so exciting,” she says. “Runners really love our products.”

The TRE23 success … Weihman points out that Paradis Sport was the only women’s underwear company with a booth at The Running Event in Austin last year — there were three men’s underwear companies there. “We feel really strongly that female athletes need and deserve great underwear so they can focus on their sport, not their underwear,” she says.

A woman in run specialty … Before starting this company, Weihman was surprised to learn that most active underwear for women is designed by men. But she understood that this made sense given how poorly some existing products fit women. “We have a woman at the design helm of our company and are committed to fit-testing our products with female athletes - many of whom are elite and pro athletes - to ensure the best fit and function for all active women,” she stresses. 

Her mentor … “So many people have helped me and continue to help me,” Weihman says, explaining that she has reached out to people who know more than she does in the areas of business, marketing, sales, product design and PR and so many people have given her great advice and feedback. She points to her “amazing” team. COO Abigail Adams helps everyone stay on task with operations and wholesale accounts, runs ultras and has even jumped in to model in photoshoots. Pro cyclist Laura King recently joined the team and is already providing marketing insight and guidance and is spearheading the brand’s ambassador program when she’s not out training or competing. Interns Bella, Emma, Neive, Tamer, Boo and Lucy have helped shape branding from day one. “All these women are my mentors,” she says. “My mom is one too. She is one of the hardest working women I know and always focused.”

Run specialty and women … “Running as a sport has a great equalizing component — there is no contact, and you just need shoes to do it.  It is so pure. Women and men can train together and compete together.”

Attracting women to run specialty careers … Weihman believes it would be nice to see more funding opportunities for women in this and any industry. According to a Gusto study, women made up 49 percent of entrepreneurs in 2021, but only two percent of venture capital investment went to female-founded start-ups that year. “More funding for women from grants, angel investors, VC’s and private equity, please.”

Advice for selling to women … Weihman urges retailers to carry products designed for women. Ask female customers what they want to see in your stores. Carry brands (like Paradis Sport) that have a strong commitment to the environment. “And remember that 85 percent of all consumer purchases in the U.S. are made by women, so it’s worth your while to listen.”

Advice for other women … “Don’t be afraid to seek advice from contacts and colleagues in areas of the business where you need help,” she says. “I have found so many people to be incredibly helpful and generous with their time and knowledge.” 

Her running routine … Weihman loves to run and have been running since she was in fourth grade when her PE teacher had everyone run a mile every day (thank you Mrs. Willman!) She ran the half-mile and mile for her middle school track team before switching to lacrosse. Now she runs five days a week when I can – usually four-to-six miles, sometimes on trails in the woods with her dog Penny and always hills. “I love the mental health benefits of getting my heart rate up and clearing my mind.”

Paradis Sport in 2024 … The company is launching Norway-inspired colors for its seamless line in March  and is working on a boyshort. They also want to continue to sell through more run specialty stores and sell at more marathons and ultras.  She is also very excited about partnering with Run the Alps, an organization based in Chamonix, France. that offers guided trail running trips. The brand has several special connections with Chamonix — it is named after Marie Paradis, the first woman to climb Mont Blanc, and they donate through 1% for the Planet to CREA Mt-Blanc, a non-profit that studies alpine ecosystems to better understand the effects of climate change. “All of our team members are excited about welcoming some amazing ambassadors to our program, including some runners, and we can’t wait to see our community grow.”