While you may already be familiar with the Athleta brand because of its cute, affordable, and wellness-centric approach to athleisure wear, we bet you haven’t heard about the amazing things the company is doing behind the scenes to further their commitment to female empowerment. 2017 has been a year of incredible sisterhood, and from January’s Women’s March to March’s National Day Without Women to last month’s Her Conference, we’re feeling fired. up. to support our fellow women — and we love that one of our fave activewear brands is on the same page. After all, there’s never been a better time to celebrate the ladies! Athleta’s Power of She campaign introduces us to beautiful stories of sisterhood and strength.

“Our mission is to really ignite a community of active, healthy, confident women and girls who empower each other to realize their limitless potential,” says Sheila Shekar, Athleta’s Senior Director of Brand Marketing. “Every time we talk about the next season’s Power of She campaign, we’re looking for amazing, inspiring stories about women and girls who are making an impact on the community through a foundation of health, wellness, and fitness.”

One such inspiring woman is Hanli Prinsloo, a professional free diver and ocean conservationist who founded The I AM WATER Ocean Conservationist Trust in 2010. As part of the Summer 2017 Power of She campaign, Athleta partnered with Prinsloo and the I AM WATER team to explore how women everywhere can support each other and the environment.

“When we found Hanli and I AM WATER, it was like an immediate love affair,” Shekar says. “She started her organization not just to help women and girls find their confidence in the water, but also to have sustainability for our planet.”

The organization’s mission is to “ignite a movement of blue minds across the planet, to facilitate physical and emotional connections to the aquatic environment, to build understanding of the interdependence of healthy humans and healthy oceans, and to influence behaviors to protect our global seas.” In her work with the Power of She campaign, Prinsloo recently returned to her native South Africa to help girls find confidence in the water with free-diving lessons and ocean exploration.

“Through this campaign, I was able to work with [Athleta] in leveraging my expertise to get more women in the water and overcome their fear,” Prinsloo says “We had so much fun working together in Cape Town, where the I AM WATER team and I got to show our personal take on the Power of She. [We had] long days exploring the ocean and seeing young girls have first-time experiences that will stay with them forever.”

These transformational experiences gave South African girls the chance to explore the water for the first time, despite the fact that they’d grown up mere steps from the ocean. The idea of building strength and confidence through physical activity — particularly outdoor activity — is a common theme in Athleta’s campaign.

“We know the power of being outdoors, and there’s certainly scientific research about how much calm it brings to you, and how much health and wellness is related to being physically outdoors and in nature,” Shekar says. She notes that Athleta’s team is universally passionate about getting outside and staying active, which has bonded them even further to the women whose stories are featured in the Power of She campaign.

This summer’s stories shine spotlights on 98-year-old Tao Porchon-Lynch, the world’s oldest yoga teacher; Club 21, a support system and yoga group for children with Down syndrome and their parents; Every Mother Counts, a running team that raises awareness and funds to provide maternal care to women worldwide; and Kate Parker, a photographer whose Strong Is the New Pretty campaign encourages young girls to ignore traditional female stereotypes and embrace their power. Like Prinsloo, each woman featured in the Power of She video series embraces the opportunity to uplift others by getting physical and celebrating nature.

Power of She

Prinsloo notes Athleta’s refreshing approach to women’s fashion — and the way that perspective can have a bigger picture impact on womankind. “I think brands often feed on the male view of women, where we would want to look and dress in a way to attract men,” she explains. “This is an incredibly divisive tactic, as every other woman would be your competitor. The Power of She is the complete antithesis of this. We learn that we are stronger together, and that there is no need for competitive mindsets or judgement, which allows so much room for greater growth in confidence, self-esteem, and happiness.”

With its focus on the concepts of positivity, potential, community, and confidence, Shekar hopes that the Power of She campaign encourages women everyone to go after their goals, knowing that they’re never alone.

“It’s not just about one woman,” she says. “It’s really about the power of the collective.”

How does the Power of She campaign inspire you? Tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photos and video via Athleta)