Ocean City —
Candice Carlin of Ocean City, and the founder of Cruise Control Gear fitness apparel, made the decision to launch her first business and career path while walking on the Ocean City boardwalk after her 2007 graduation from Villanova University.
Carlin, who majored in communications but took several business classes, was interested in pursuing a career in business like her father, who owns a steel distribution company.
She was offered a position with her father’s company after her graduation, but, “I just couldn’t get passionate about rebar,” Carlin said.
Her interests lay in starting her own business, but Carlin was struggling to combine her two passions: tennis, which Carlin played at Villanova, and fashion.
Carlin is also an instructor at the Sixth Street tennis court in Ocean City during the summer. Her father introduced Carlin and her sister to the sport at an early age, but what got Carlin excited to play tennis as a six-year-old girl were the fashionable tennis outfits her mother bought for her and her sister.
“I was walking with my mom (on the boardwalk) and we were trying to brainstorm ideas (for the business),” Carlin said. “I was inspired by the “Life Is Good” slogan and also by the Livestrong brand. I was thinking that I wanted to do something as a motivational saying for tennis players and athletes.”
On that same leisurely stroll, Carlin came up with “Live For It,” a slogan that graces the front of many of the shirts of her Cruise Control apparel.
For the line of tennis products, the “o” in live for it is a tennis ball. It is a golf ball in Cruise Control’s line of golf apparel.
Once Carlin had the slogan, she reached out to suppliers overseas, and eventually expanded her business to include men’s and women’s athletic apparel and accessories.
One year and a half later, Carlin’s sister, Kristen Carlin, a former Princeton University tennis player, joined Cruise Control.
Now, the two collaborate on marketing and design ideas.
Cruise Control currently offers products with moisture wicking and SPF technology, and clothing including men’s polo shirts, matching tennis sets, tennis skirts and dresses, sport socks, T-shirts and more.
Cruise Control products can be purchased online on the Cruise Control website or at select country clubs, sports stores and hotels, including the Atlantic resort in the Bahamas.
“What’s great is because my sister and I were tennis players, we try on the samples and make sure that they work for us,” Carlin said. “I also wear the clothing as I’m spinning and lifting weights at the gym. I think it’s great to gear it towards people living the same lifestyle.”
I can relate my life to a tennis match in a way,” Carlin explained. “I love that it’s (tennis) always a challenge. I remember in college when I was competing you never had an easy match. You’re always going to have a fight, and I’m finding that from playing those matches it really does help with the sales events too. I’m able to see that not every sale is going to come easy, and I think that’s helped me persevere and get through the days that are a little tougher.”
Cruise Control Gear is available online at www.cruisecontrolgear.com.