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|Welcome to my personal message page. I find that I cannot post regularly on the normal social media platforms--but when I do feel I have something to say, this page works for me--a bit of a running dialogue. Enjoy, share, communicate. thank you for visiting! Joline |
I didn't lift a finger...
I didn’t lift a finger. But Sarasota, Florida did. And on the heels of natural disasters that threatened our continent.
This week I am proud as an American to have welcomed the world to Sarasota Florida, to an event that on the most important level enabled athletes from 70 countries to show us who they were. We (the collective we) provided a venue that was fair, and safe. America showed up. We filled the stands and the banks. We asked them for their autographs, for selfies. We were amazed.
Having the Worlds here is important. It is important to the future of American rowing. The week started with a junior invitational, where boys and girls from each region raced. The racing was secondary to the experience of being on the site with the best in the world. A coach told me that after the Jr events, in the blazing Florida sun, he saw dozens of the kids at the starting area—watching start after start during the qualifying heats. Watching start. After. start. These kids have returned to their programs all over the country. Watch.
Personally, I reconnected with my teammates; with the history of my sport; and the organizations that promote and support our athletes. The National Rowing Foundation, USRowing, and the corps of US of Referees. Without them we would become isolated. Sure, rowing with our friends, and keeping fit—but our sport would diminish. As difficult as this year was for me (and we are still recovering), I’ve been told by many that my noise, and the noise made by the community in my behalf was a wake up call. This may be my legacy, and I’d be proud of it. But I’ve already begun work with each group to see how we can help to move forward.
As for the JL of it…sure we moved some trou and some unisuits, but there needs to be joy in a ten-day event—My daughter Kate has created a global team of athlete ambassadors, who through social media is fostering connections between elite rowers to juniors. And though I’ve supported the project, this is the first time I’ve seen the magic of it. Though mostly tied to our booth, we felt the world flow through. Between heats, after medals, after defeats, the JL Ambassadors came by to share, to meet, to critique, to suggest. Our sponsored athletes, the Irish, the Austrians and the Belgians were frequent visitors—these are relationships we hope to strengthen and deepen.
So many came by to share their stories. Pre from Benin, Luis from Mexico, US team parents, host families from Hanover. I learned about clean outboard motors from Ed and Andy of Purewatercraft and the new directions from Craftsbury. I feel privileged to be a part of this community and look forward to my next regatta, and the next.
See you soon, Joline
|Lanes are full, ready all?|
This is Joline, humbled by the support of the rowing community. Thanks to you, JL will be at all the usual venues this summer!
I wish that every governing body were as reachable as USRowing, and that change could be seen in a month...I don't mean to simplify what happened, and there is still much to be done, but wow--power to the people!
Thank you for your support!
Huzzah! Lanes are full!
Thank you to Brian Helms for his interpretation of JL and EveryRower!
Update on Monday April 10
Quick update. Today looks promising—I am expecting more calls with members of the board at USRowing; regatta venues are trying to work with us on creative solutions; and I am forming alliances with other vendors left out in the cold.
This does not mean that we’ve won back the right to appear at USRowing-hosted regattas. Yet. But it does put me firmly in the Grateful Column—grateful to the thousands of rowers who by sharing the story and carrying the dialogue, validate my position. We are asking for a fair playing field. Full lanes. Viva la Competition.
After following some of the threads in the past days though, I’d like to clarify my position.
Our beef is not with Nike
I welcome any and all sponsors of this sport. In the past I have produced team uniforms for large apparel companies who have come to me to do what I do best--make rowing garments for rowers. In projects with national teams globally, we plaster their sponsors’ logos across their chests/legs; have embellished JL garments with Adidas, with Underarmour, and (once or twice) even with Nike. I want rowing to succeed.
Our position is that vendors who have supported this sport for decades should not be excluded from events.
Why is JL not sponsoring the US team (why not put our money where our mouth is…)
JL has never been invited to the party. We put in a bid before the last quadrennial, but it was in reaction to hearing that a contract was already signed. So one, we were not made aware that bidding was open, and two, we found out about the “almost signed contract” through back channels. This smelled to us of smoke-filled, back-room deals.
JL is not big money. Our bid was close, but didn’t meet the financial needs of USRowing then, so I can only guess that they didn’t even feel the need to include us in any further discussions.
The world moves on. USRowing wants a “trophy sponsor,” one who will attract other lucrative sponsors. This obviously excludes us.
Why does JL not sponsor athletes or teams with cash?
Our pricing model, for the last 30-plus years, is direct-to-customer. We manufacture in the US, using very expensive fabrics, in a made-to-order model that must produce highly custom garments in a short amount of time. Compare this to factories who make decisions based on the bottom line. Our margins are tight, providing a living for us and the 70 households in our employ, and support in-kind to the many programs around the world.
Yes. If we charged a lot more for our garments, we could hand out cash--try and explain that to the parents of a high school program!
Vendor fees go to the rowing community, not to USRowing
The vendor fees we pay go directly to local clubs/venues. $90k last year. This supports regattas, clubs, rowers.
Imagine a boat race where you were the only one allowed to row. All the other lanes are empty, except yours. Would you train as hard? Would the victory be as sweet? USRowing is emptying the lanes.
The culture of rowing is under attack from the very body whose mission it is to foster it. Small businesses who have grown with the sport and have helped to grow the sport are being handed the corporate pink slip, because USRowing doesn’t know their constituency, and doesn’t care about the well-being of community.
What I know…Truth and Rumor
USRowing benefits here—not rowers
What did Nike get?
Why JL matters
What does JL do for me?
But What does JL do for ME?
What would the future look like without… What can I do?
Here is what I know
USRowing has signed a contract with Nike, which stipulates that no vendor of “competing product” may show at USRowing-hosted events. This includes Junior and Masters Regionals and Nationals, as well as all trials. Whether we will be welcome at Worlds is still to be seen. Leaked information (which you should take as leaked and cannot be verified due to confidentiality), is that the amount is $125k per year with option to extend, yearly for 4 years. I spill these beans because really. Really? Now 10 mill over 4 years I could understand…
USRowing benefits, not rowers
USRowing signed for the (very little) money, but interestingly…for the attraction that a big name sponsor engenders with other potential sponsors. Do we need sponsors to keep our national teams afloat? Absolutely. But do we need to do that at the expense of local clubs and venues, and at the risk of a decimated landscape once the juggernaut pulls out?
What did Nike get?
USRowing sold…well you. The highly educated, professional demographic that is rowing. They sold the Worlds that are in Florida this year. They sold logo placement on the chests of the most decorated female rowers in history. This means their logo on national TV for tens of minutes. The price they paid for these commodities is a fraction of a drop of what they would pay for a one minute commercial on network TV.
Why JL matters
My name is Joline Lorraine Esparza, the J and the L. I am the face of a commercial enterprise; I make my living off of rowers. But I do it from the heart, with integrity, with service and with quality and the values that I wear on my sleeve. We manufacture in the US, using recycled fibers and solar panels—the garments you’ve worn over the years allowed me to pay 100% of my workers’ health insurance since the early 90s. How many of the companies you buy from can say that? How many of the garments you wear have continued to do their job for years, if not decades? I see rowers almost every regatta who still sport a pair of trou with a logo I hand-stitched over 20 years ago. Learn more about us .
What does JL do for me?
JL has supported the rowing community for over 30 years. JL is the one you call for a jacket donation for your silent auction. JL is the one who offers support to community programs, with either free kit or highly discounted team wear. JL rescued national team athletes who begged us to make replica suits in the place of the unwearable ones they were issued. JL sponsored the US Junior National team for over a decade, supporting them as USRowing continued to pull back support.
But what does JL do for ME?
JL is sponsoring your regatta, your rowing. Last year we paid the rowing community $90,000 in vendor fees. Please listen closely here, and read to the end of this one. This is a truth--sponsorship depends on profit. If JL profits, we can support the community that supports us. JL attends over 100 rowing events in the US a year. Of those events, you may be surprised at how few involve profit. Everyone knows the obvious ones, but the USRowing properties from which we are now excluded are high on that list. If we can’t attend those, we can’t attend and pay the vendor fees that help to keep your regattas going. JL and all the rest of the rowing vendors sponsor your rowing event. Why, you might ask, do you even attend an event if you don’t make $$? This is how we communicate with our demographic. This is how we explain about recycled fibers, how we educate the new mom about why we care if their son has a really long torso, and that it matters that our trou don’t ride up. This is where an athlete can bring a garment that needs a repair, and where we chat with teams about their needs. Where else can you find a collection of the finest rowing literature, or the latest entrepreneurial stab at a coxing game? We consider it marketing. We consider it sponsorship. We want to know our community and we want them to know us.
What would the future look like without…
Remember Track & Field at the Olympics? Teams outfitted by the big players all had cookie-cutter uniforms, with color variations. The family-owned companies that listen to your unique stories, and provide uniforms that express the culture of your school/club/boat may not survive this quadrennial, may not make it past this year. When a corporate interest is transactional, not personal…you may get technology that eclipses what we can provide, but it will be generic. And imagine a regatta without the dog-and-pony show that is all of us, celebrating what you do, doing what we enjoy.
What can I do?
If this matters to you, please react, please act. And again, please read to the bottom.
Shop Local--I have never been a hard sell. But if you believe in what I do and the way I do it, click here to see how shopping local will help while we adjust to what may be a new reality.
- Share your opinion on your social outlets and ask your contacts to spread the word. Talk with your regatta organizer and tell them you want to preserve a level playing field for all competitors!
- Direct people to this page http://www.jlracing.com/page.viva_competition.html
- Write actual, physical letters or post cards to USRowing Board of Directors. Addresses are listed at the bottom of the page.
- Contact the board members at USRowing and let them know it matters. Click here to go to USRowing. I’ve also listed them at the bottom of the page
- Talk to me
- It helps my heart to know that others understand and appreciate what we do. It helps to know that I am not alone, or crazy to feel this way. My email is jle@jlracing(dot)com
- Follow us on social media—every engagement boosts our exposure and makes us feel better
- Tag us in your posts—seeing your personal expression of what JL means to you is priceless to us
- Download the free JL Designer app for iOS devices, available on the app store--play with it, and review it! Reviews are key.
Stay connected. We are part of a whole. Read up at row2k.com Watch for our newsletters. When you do see us at regattas stop by.
Thanks for your support!
Joline and the JL team.
2 Wall Street
Princeton, NJ 08540
Phone: (800) 314-4ROW (4769); (609) 751-0700
Fax: (609) 924-1578
Full-time Customer Service position in Philly