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Contact us e-news signup JL Origins Interviews with Lou
 JL Origins
Interview by Lou Kinder and Erin Landy
Have you ever looked down at your super comfortable shorts cut perfectly for your sport and wondered "Hey, what's with this arrow embroidered on my left leg?"  I recently enjoyed tracing back to the roots of JL Design Enterprises with owner, president and founder extraordinaire Joline Esparza. A familiar face and staple around regattas and bike races since (read on to find out)- isn't it high time we sat down and got to know her better? Here is part one of our Origins series...more to come
 Joline and Annie Stanford days, Niiiiiice!

 JL Founder Joline Esparza

EL: Chicken or the egg question: Which came first, rowing or sewing?
JLE: JL's roots can be traced back to, well, my roots.  My grandfather was a tailor and my sister is a fine seamstress.   The sartorial interest runs pretty deep.  When I was a child, my aunt found an antique Singer treadle sewing machine--together we broke it down and rebuilt it. This is the machine I learned on, and used until college.  
At seven I started my first sewing related business venture...Read More

 Turtle version ONE

Where the Turtleshell came from

The JL Turtleshell.  Hard back, soft belly.  One of my favorite creations, this one sprung from my background in cycling.  And I do mean background.  Years ago, when we wore wool shorts and flappy jackets on road bikes (even before mountain bikes were invented!), I used to stuff newspaper in the front of my tee shirts to keep the wind from cutting right through me.  Then I graduated to a piece of a chamois (again, history--the actual leather ones) safety-pinned to my front--OK, geeky, but it worked.
Now back to the boat.  Rowers go backwards in the cold.  I hated feeling completely warmed up in my full jacket, then being sweaty and chilled when I pulled it off to carry on my workout.  Some sort of vest offered the perfect solution
...Read More

Small JL Family at an early regatta 

Family Matters

This section is all about ohana--family.

JLE: … Olympic dreams were dashed with the final cuts at the Princeton national training camp.  I returned to the west coast to begin my life with Ken Mills, a national class Track & Field athlete--we were married at the end of that summer. JL Design continued as a side project for me.  As my teammates retired from rowing and started coaching their own teams- demand for quality trou continued...Read more



Joline and Annie Stanford days, Niiiiiice!

 the JL Unisuit

EL: So what about the logo—the one we see on everyone from novices to Olympians?

JLE: The company logo (not an arrow by the way, but a J and an L for Joline Lorraine) was actually developed when I was at one of Bob Ernst’s training camps for the US team in 1981.  Literally while sitting in the UW boathouse at the training table!  read more
printable version

See where the magic hapens

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