Rhoback: From Idea to Startup in a Year

By Jay Hodgkins

The founders of Rhoback didn’t wait until graduation from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business to start their company. Instead, Kristina Loftus (Class of 2017) and her husband, Matt Loftus (MBA ’16), used the assets of the School and the i.Lab at UVA Incubator program to launch their “Under Armour meets Vineyard Vines” line of high-end active wear right away.

Learn more about their story and see the evolution of Rhoback’s products from idea to ready to wear in this Darden featured video or read more in UVA Today’s recent coverage of their success.

"“We were a big group of active guys sweating through our button-down shirts and khakis with each activity. We wanted something more sweat-wicking, but fun and stylish,” Loftus said. “We saw there was a space for an activewear brand targeting the higher-end male.”

Once Loftus and Zambelli were both enrolled at Darden, they began preparations to design and launch their own clothing line, Rhoback, inspired by the Rhodesian Ridgeback, a dog breed that, as the now-married Kristina Loftus put it, “is always craving activity.”

“That is our motto and that is what we are inspired by,” she said. “You don’t have to be a supreme athlete to wear Rhoback; you can just be thinking about playing tennis or golf, craving that active lifestyle.”

The couple conducted research among their classmates, prototyped designs for polos, T-shirts, hats, athletic shorts and more, designed their website and began negotiations with manufacturers.

“The Darden community has been amazing,” Matt Loftus said. “It feels like we’ve interviewed the whole school; they’ve felt fabrics, they told us how they liked their shirts to feel and look.”"
UVA Today
About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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