Karen D. Fultz-Robinson
Attorney and former law school assistant dean launches innovative athletic, athleisure, and healthcare professional apparel line OBSERVAMÉ®
After a year of research and development, ObservaMé® launched a line of sports, athleisure, and healthcare professional apparel that sets the company apart from other brands in the industry. Karen D. Fultz-Robinson, a former attorney now fashion designer, has chosen the United States, specifically, Tampa, to be the headquarters for all activities involving the design, manufacturing, and distribution of the ObservaMé® clothing lines for men and women.
The ObservaMé® brand was developed to meet the demands of those living active lifestyles while addressing the need for easy access to personal fitness trackers and watches while training. All activewear shirts include a provisionally patented, one of a kind, a design that allows for easy viewing and access to fitness devices directly through the sleeve. Recently, Fultz-Robinson also learned that there was a need for the patent design to allow access to watches in the medical field, which led to the development of the ObservaMé® compression sleeves.
As a marathon runner, Fultz-Robinson knows that training happens under many weather conditions and access to fitness tracking devices should not be a distraction. The ObservaMé® design concept was born during a 15-mile run. Fultz-Robinson developed sketches and assembled a team to help her put together the mock-ups and final patterns.
“As an athlete, regardless of weather, I wanted to track my progress – pace, heart rate, and distance, and sometimes you just want to know what time it is,” said Fultz-Robinson. “Why should something seemingly so simple be difficult to access? Athletes or anyone living an active lifestyle shouldn’t have to struggle to view their devices.”
Today, the product line has grown to include signature shirts along with vests and performance pants, and a variety of accessories. ObservaMé®’s brand name was also chosen by Fultz-Robinson to explain the company’s purpose for its customers. ObservaMé® means “watch me” in Spanish.
“We help the consumer watch their performance and provide a stylish look that draws others to watch them as they compete or overcome performance barriers,” said Fultz-Robinson. “ it references the clocks (watches) on our wrists but also encourages accountability, which helps us strive to maintain our fitness goals.”
While all long-sleeved ObservaMé® apparel has been designed to stop the need for tugging or placing straps over the sleeve, each article of ObservaMé® activewear is hand-made with high-quality dry wick material and some provide UV protection for active lifestyles (i.e. running, cycling, hiking, boating, golfing, hunting, and etc.). The streamlined designs contour to all body types for easy flexibility during any activity and all-day comfort, and the fabric is soft to the touch which prevents chaffing. The compression sleeves, which also provides easy access to watches and fitness trackers, can be used by athletes for sun protection or quickly convertible warmth, but have also been tested for use by those in the medical profession to prevent skin contact with inadvertent splashes from contaminants while allowing for monitoring vitals and staying warm.
The ObservaMé® apparel line for men includes half-zip and crewneck shirts, hoodies, vests, full-zip jackets with hoods and performance pants. Women’s athletic/athleisure wear includes half-zip and V-neck shirts, fullzip jackets with hoods (with a high/low option), vests, hoodies, and long and capris style performance pants. All apparel is available for purchase at www.observame.net, and during various athletic events nationally. ObservaMé® has previously appeared at the Boston and Detroit Marathons.
All products are manufactured at ObservaMé®’s headquarters in Tampa, located at 14260 Carlson Circle, under Fultz-Robinson’s supervision to ensure the quality of each product meets the high standard set by the company.
Before founding ObservaMé®, Fultz-Robinson practiced state and federal commercial and business litigation with the Tampa office of Sheehe & Associates, P.A., and was an assistant dean and professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus. Before moving to Florida, she was a partner and practiced commercial, business, subrogation and recovery litigation, as well as family law at the law firm of Cozen O’Connor in Atlanta, Georgia, and was an assistant vice president at Bank of America in the Estate Settlement Division. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Fultz-Robinson earned her bachelor’s degree in International Relations at Michigan State University and juris doctor from Thomas M. Cooley Law School’s Lansing, Michigan campus
What was life like growing up for you? What type of family did you have?
Life was wonderful growing up in a thriving community in Detroit, Michigan. I created lifetime friends and learned unimaginable life lessons. I had seven (7) siblings (two now deceased): six (6) boys; and two (2) girls. I am the family’s baby, and there is a 20-year gap between the eldest son and me.
I had the opportunity to learn from 3 generations within the same house: my parents and siblings. I learned to be independent, creative, and a self-starter very early on in my childhood. My mother groomed me to solve my problems, not to fear losing (she beat me in early board games and card games until I learned to stop crying after each loss and strategize to a win [or more respectable loss]).
I did not understand, at that time, what my mother was trying to achieve with each loss that she dealt with me, but now I treasure those lessons and apply them in the building of my new business. I don’t allow the obstacles in business to stop my climb, even if it requires me to reshuffle and deal another hand in this business game.
Were you a dreamer growing up? What kinds of dreams did you have?
I have always been a dreamer. As the youngest child in an older family, you are forced to create games to entertain yourself. I also read many books (before audiobooks on the phone) that allowed you to create an imaginary world developed by the author or place yourself in the shoes of the actors or famous people you watched on television. I made drawings in journals and always imagined myself to be successful.
I have always been enamored by fashion and beauty. One of my maternal Aunts told me always to leave the house ready to face anything the world had to throw my way. I was always taught to put my face on (make-up) and dress to impress myself and not others, which helped build my confidence to take on the world.
How hard was it breaking into the business? We hear stories all the time of people who try for years and never make it, and other stories of overnight “in the right place at the right time” sensations.
I am still working on “breaking into the business” with ObservaMé®. We are striving to become a household name. I am not the overnight success story, but I sure will be a success story. You hear people say “No” to you, but I strive never to tell myself “No,” which keeps my drive and hustle solid and intentional.
Which one do you think there’s more of? Those who pay their dues or opportunity meeting preparation?
I would venture to say that the two are the same. When you pay your dues and learn from the experiences, you prepare for the opportunity you strive to grasp.
How do you maintain your integrity in an otherwise highly competitive and sometimes unscrupulous industry, as business at times can be cutthroat?
I never compromise my integrity. Once lost, it’s never regained.
What advice do you have for others who have THE dream?
Keep moving in the direction of your dream. Always know that there is more than one dream to accomplish your ultimate goals. You are the only one who can limit your growth, so stay out of your way. Reach out to those more successful than you and don’t feel that you are ever too old to have a mentor or search for a mentor.
What is it about this that makes you do what you do?
My commitment is to healthy living and reducing the tragic stories headlined by illnesses borne out of obesity or mental instability. Physical movement and healthy eating can and will change one’s life. ObservaMé®’s motto is that our brand is good for your mind, body, and soul.
When you take the first step to dress your physical body in preparation for movement and activity, you embark upon the journey for a change in your lifestyle. It is a long-term commitment to yield outstanding results such as living without medications, heart disease, diabetes, and many times without depression and anxiety.
How do you maintain your focus when you have competing demands?
When you are the only one responsible for your growth, income, and success, it motivates you to keep pushing forward. When you place your goals on paper, you create self-accountability. Now that my parents departed this earth, the last person I want to disappoint is me.
Would you consider yourself a driven person? What makes you a powerhouse? What is the source of your strength?
I am highly driven. My mom created my character, determined to raise independent women who will not accept excuses or failure as an option. I am a powerhouse!
If there’s one thing you could change about the world, what would that be?
I would rid the world of hate and prejudice.
What advice do you have for young ladies (teens to young adults) who are growing up in today’s world with so much influence in the entertainment industry that is not always supportive of their best interest? What advice would you give to young men?
To young ladies and men: Love yourself first. Don’t allow outside influences to dictate who you are or how you should look and behave. Generate the energy for your confidence from your desire to stand out from the crowd. Don’t run within a pack, but always lead the herd. Know that your love for yourself will protect you from those who only think negative thoughts. Protect your time, protect your heart and protect your mind from others who only make withdrawals and never deposit into your life.
Remember to tell the world to ObservaMé®
(Watch Me! [Spanish translation])!