McKenna Kimmel, 17, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, started shooting archery in 2012, and has competed in the prestigious Indoor Nationals for the past three years. Now she’s expanding her talents into the fashion industry as the owner of Quiver Archery Apparel.
Kimmel became interested in archery while reading about bow-and-arrow heroine Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games.” Eager to learn more about it, Kimmel and her dad visited their local archery shop, Lancaster Archery Supply, where owner Rob Kaufhold discussed the sport and explained its equipment. Kimmel enrolled in lessons and later joined Lancaster Archery Academy’s Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) team.
While competing, Kimmel noticed that archery lacked sport-specific clothing. Basketball, softball, baseball, football and soccer players wear special shoes and uniforms. Even dancers wear leotards. But what do archers wear that’s specific to their sport? Kimmel’s entrepreneurial wheels began turning. Could starting her own business fill that void?
“I’ve always been interested in starting my own company,” Kimmel said. Her small-business intuition first surfaced in elementary school, when she crafted and sold plastic bottle-cap jewelry at a craft fair. Since then, she knew she’d eventually start her own company. In 2014, the opportunity presented itself.
The Junior League of Lancaster placed a newspaper advertisement soliciting entrants in its fourth-annual “Girls in Business” competition, which invites high-school students to devise and present an original business plan. “When I heard about the contest, I knew I wanted to enter,” Kimmel said. “So I started to think about possible business ideas.”
First, she combined her two passions: archery and art. Next, she identified her market. “I had grown up going to lacrosse tournaments, and seeing all the stands of clothing to promote the sport,” she said. “I noticed archery didn’t have this as much.” Take art and archery, and combine it with the need for archery swag, and Quiver Archery Apparel was born.
A Junior League mentor helped Kimmel build a business plan and present it “Shark Tank” style to a panel of judges. She felt impassioned as she envisioned growing a small business and driving its success, so she brought her idea to life. She used the $500 from her second-place winnings to launch Quiver Archery Apparel onto the online shopping scene.
She sells tanks, tees, sweatshirts, hats and headbands, all including woodsy designs with an archery flare. Each design is hand-drawn by Kimmel herself, then transferred to a computer for screenprinting. The best part? They’re made to be worn while shooting a bow and arrow. Score!
“I was surprised there was such a limited selection of archery apparel for women and girls,” Kimmel said. “I wanted to fill that void while also designing apparel that would help me perform (at) my highest level.”
Kimmel’s slim-fitting T-shirts provide range of motion minus the annoyance of excess fabric. And her polo shirts, perfect for competitive shooting, have a built-in chest guard. Her headwear department includes headbands (no more pesky fly-aways!) and hats to block the sun.
Kimmel currently sells 10 designs, and she’ll expand her product line as her fan base and the sport grow. “This business has been such a huge learning experience for me, and I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Kimmel said. “Archery is such a great sport, so I hope it continues to grow.”
Kimmel’s success – in archery and fashion – isn’t possible without help from key influencers.
“Thank you to everyone who has supported me,” Kimmel beamed. “Special thanks to Rob Kaufhold and Lancaster Archery for helping me get started with archery, and for being so supportive from the beginning; to Laura Bennett Shelton (archer and “Project Runway” designer) for inspiring me with her awesome archery skills and fashion sense, and for giving me good advice; and to my JOAD team and coaches for being so kind and encouraging! Also, thank you to my parents for being patient and supportive!”
Inspired by McKenna’s story? Score major style points by purchasing your own Quiver Archery Apparel here. Or try archery at your local archery store. Who knows? Maybe’s you’re a budding archery entrepreneur, too!