Cassey Ho didn’t set out to be a YouTuber.
In 2009, Cassey was moving from California to Massachusetts to pursue a career as a fashion buyer.
She wasn’t just leaving family and friends, she was also leaving the students who loved her fun pop-filled pilates classes. So Cassey filmed a few workout videos for those who wanted a way to still follow her routines and uploaded them to YouTube, under the channel “Blogilates.”
“I wanted to stay connected with those students that I was teaching Pilates [to] before moving to the East Coast for my first ‘glamorous fashion job,’” says Cassey. “And those two things were so pivotal.”
Months into her corporate career, Cassey noticed her following on YouTube began to build up.
“And then I saw it had thousands of views and hundreds of comments. I was like, what is this? What is happening?” she says.
Another pivotal moment came when Cassey discovered a workout bag that she designed for herself ended up in Shape magazine.
“I didn't even have a real brand at this point,” says Cassey. “I was so miserable at work [and felt] that this was a sign from the universe telling me 'you need to go all in on yourself.'”
Cassey’s passion for design and her experience in the fashion industry became a natural fit for a thriving YouTube audience.
“Fans were like, ‘Well can we have a Blogilates shirt?’ And I was like, ‘Why in the world would you want to wear my screen name?’” says Cassey. “But that was also the moment I realized, ‘Oh my god, maybe Blogilates is not just a screen name.’”
The Blogilates merchandise chapter, however, was short-lived. Copycat designs started to pop up online. Even when Cassey pivoted to design-based athleisure wear, she still faced trademarking issues before finally finding her footing with the launch of her direct-to-consumer brand, POPFLEX, in 2016.
“The knocking off though … I hate that so much, because it’s not just that you’re copying me,” Cassey says. “It’s literally you’re taking someone else’s hard work and creativity, not doing any work, and then making profit off of it.”
Despite the challenges, Cassey remained focused on the motivation for her products: how to better serve the community she built, from eliminating camel toes for folks wearing her leggings to making workout bags with separate waterproof compartments for dirty gym shoes. POPFLEX designs resonated with Cassey’s community and the company is growing at a stellar rate.
“We just got on the Inc. 5000 list, which I’m so proud of. The growth has been insane. We’ve actually doubled sales over the last three years consecutively,” she says. “We had over 1.5 million visitors just last month to popflexactive.com, and we are over 800% up since 2019 in sales.”
Tune into the full episode of Shopify Masters to hear Cassey’s design process for POPFLEX, advice for entrepreneurs who are building a team, and future product launches planned for POPFLEX.