Women is...: Gertrude "Ma" Boyle The Mother of Sportswear

Gertrude "Ma" Boyle The Mother of Sportswear

who she is: Chairman, Columbia Sportswear

born: 1924

beginnings: "My mother and father started Columbia as a wholesale hat company. My husband joined the company when we married. He died suddenly in 1970, and we had this loan to pay off. I had to take over even though I wasn't involved in the business."

toughest thing: "To inherit a job rather than earn it."

survival: "I'm a big mouth; I was able to b.s. my way through a lot of stuff."

growing the business: "We designed the first fishing vest in 1960. The fishing vest led to rain pants, and so on. The vest was a result of a whole bunch of fisherman sitting around our living room. I don't fish, but I listened to their ideas."

turning point: "The times have helped us. Fifty years ago people didn't dress in sportswear. Now they do."

on designing sportswear: "I don't design anymore, I just criticize."

her motto: "'Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise.' The way we advertise sets us aside from the other companies. Not many others let a 74-year-old woman be the spokesman."

most popular outerwear: "Our Bugaboo coat, which we invented with a liner and a shell. We've made over 3 million of those coats since 1983, and they've stayed the same for a decade and a half."

latest addition: "We got into the shoe business. Now we make a Bugaboot. It's very much like a Sorrel boot but structured differently so it's as comfortable as a tennis shoe."

satisfaction: "It's nice to go to a basketball game and see everyone wearing your clothes. If we sold underwear, we couldn't see the results."