Make-test-tweak became the standard operating procedure for the athletic wear company Gaidama in the early days.
Gaidama, a Tulsa-based online store, creates a unique style of spats, a type of compression pants, designed for women in grappling sports like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and wrestling.
“I had bought spats from basically every company on the market,” says Kendall Vernon, owner of Gaidama and Primate Jiu Jitsu in Tulsa. All were made with thin, flimsy material. “I was always wearing compression shorts under my spats or training shorts over them. I never felt like I could just wear spats.”
Vernon, who practices Jiu Jitsu, explains that grapplers roll around on the mat with another person in compromising positions. “Most of the time it’s women rolling with dudes, and we’re not trying to expose ourselves,” she says. Vernon set to work in her living room, putting together a design with some key features in mind, including a premium material with added sweat protection.
She began designing in November 2018 and launched Gaidama in June 2020, working with a seamstress on nearly 25 different prototypes. “We’d just make one, test it, tweak it, and repeat,” she says. Full- and capri-length spats and compression shorts in two lengths are available.
The name Gaidama is a combination of the words gai — a Basque word meaning having sufficient power, strength, force and skill — and dama, woman in Spanish. It demonstrates Vernon’s mission to supply women with the resources they need to train in their sport and is an allusion to the female spirit.
Gaidama is also a means to give to causes important to Vernon. Every quarter a percentage of profits goes to a planet-centric organization, and a batch of Gaidama spats were recently donated to the Broken Arrow girls’ wrestling team.
“They appreciate all the same features that Jiu Jitsu girls do in these spats,” Vernon says. “This company is by women, about women, for women. It’s about how powerful, strong and capable women are.”
Purchase Gaidama athletic wear at gaidama.com.