Female Entrepreneurs in Outdoor Industry
We love learning from other women. Today’s female entrepreneur interview is with Amy from Action for Healthy Kids.
Amy graduated from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities with a Masters in Public Health and now lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with her husband and two daughters.
We believe in living your passion. And because we believe in the importance of instilling a healthy lifestyle at an early age, 5% of our profits are donated to the national effort Action for Healthy Kids. Founded in 2002, Action for Healthy Kids works with schools to fight the national epidemic of childhood obesity by teaching kids to live healthy, active lives. Learn more at www.actionforhealthykids.org
1. What is it like starting a new line in the outdoor/fitness industry?
I have enjoyed Silent Sports my whole life, thanks to my parents who got me involved in nordic skiing, canoeing, camping, hiking, and bicycling at an early age. I was on skis at the age of 4 and did my first century bike ride at the age of 10! My parents (now in their 70’s) are still incredibly active and many weekends we have 3 generations out there enjoying the outdoors and being physically active. I’m thrilled to be working in this industry because it’s near and dear to my heart – I feel like I understand it and belong here – these are my people!
2. What has been your favorite experience with your new line?
The spark for Momentum came from my desire to motivate and inspire others – using my talents in my own way to give something back. I love supporting women’s fitness and empowerment! Although I really enjoy all the creative aspects involved in running my own business, my favorite and most rewarding part is when I get customer feedback. I love seeing the photos and hearing their life stories. It’s incredibly rewarding to hear how our jewelry has inspired them – both in their personal and athletic lives. Then I know my idea is working and I love it!
3. What has surprised you the most about starting a new company?
How you need to be resourceful, jack-of-all-trades, and constantly learning. The development of your company and your product doesn’t follow in a straight line or logical sequence. You have to be constantly open to learning, to new opportunities, and to ideas. Once you stop trying new ideas and changing, your company stops growing.
4. What challenges have you faced and overcome?
I am incredibly lucky to have the most supportive family and friends! I never would have made it this far without their support and encouragement. From the beginning, Momentum has been a leap of faith – trusting that my intuition and ideas were valuable and worth following. I would say that the emotional part of trusting your vision is always a challenge. In practical terms, the toughest part has been to find excellent staff to help Momentum grow. It’s been especially tricky finding the right talent to help with our custom stamping. We have really high quality standards and make everything in the USA. Luckily, over the past year I’ve built up an amazing team of 6 core staff – they are a fantastic group of ladies who get it done!
5. What have you learned about women during your career?
Everyone has their unique story and their struggles and I’ve seen how strong, resourceful, and determined women can be. I think we can often be our own worst enemy when we counteract ourselves with self-criticism and self-doubt. It’s great to see more awareness, resources, and communities that are available (thank you social media!) that support women in healthy ways. I love seeing this new level of support and that Momentum is a part of it.
6. How has an online presence and your skills in technology, blogging and social media helped you get
to where you are today? Has it opened doors for you? Do you think these skills are necessary for
people to acquire today?
Absolutely! There is no way that Momentum could have grown into what it is today without the daily technology that we use. Our website, our social media outlets, and our PR and outreach efforts wouldn’t work without it. It really does help level the playing field for small, independent companies such as Momentum. The skills to navigate and utilize all the technology resources are critical, but the good news is that any dedicated person can learn them! I especially dragged my feet on jumping into Instagram and Twitter and had to have my teenage daughter give me tutorials and be my guide.
7. How have you found balance between work and family?
This is a hard one! I have two teenage daughters and I cherish my time with them. Together, we are an active family – we often travel or spend the weekends skiing or biking. Now that they are older, they are more independent and getting busy with their own lives. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to spend the time that is required for a start-up even 5 years ago, when they were younger. Making time to be active together and present in their lives is a top priority – the beauty of Momentum is that I work from home, so I’m always around and can drop what I’m doing. However, that means my work day always gets extended – from early morning to late at night – often with many interruptions in between.
8. What do you do to get outdoors?
I’m happiest outside, so although I get my daily sweat on at the gym (I’m just a little bit hooked on my weight-lifting, kettlebell, cardio, yoga, and spin classes!), we spend our weekends as a family running, hiking, bicycling, skiing, mountain biking, and camping. We are members in a local bike club and ski club and also participate in these activities with my extended family. Living in Minnesota means discrete seasons for each activity – right now we’re doing more running and will soon take the road bikes out for their first spin of the season. There’s nordic skiing in the winter (probably my favorite) and camping, mountain biking, and hiking in the fall.
9. We love the idea behind the motivation wraps etc. How do you stay motivated and determined to
accomplish your goals?
The spark for our Motivate Wraps was like a literal light bulb going off in my head! I was at the gym, doing a seemingly never-ending plank, when I looked down at my blank wrist and realized how great it would be to have something encouraging there. The idea was hatched and I haven’t looked back since! I think it’s because Momentum perfectly resonates with my values and who I am as a person – it’s a perfect marriage between my love for fitness and my creative self. It’s the way that I can contribute to others and will continue to do so as long as I keep feeling that creative spark and enjoying the ride!
10. How would you describe female empowerment?
This is something that is dear to my heart, especially since I have 2 daughters! I think a lot of physical and emotional strength can be found through physical accomplishments. I feel that my experience growing up has given me a certain self confidence and awareness that I can do “hard things”. I’ve always tried to stress this with my daughters – being strong is good and muscles are awesome! Celebrate your strengths, it’s about being who you are and not trying to fit into to cultural stereotypes of beauty, femininity, or perfection.
11. My advice for women that want to start their own business:
Make sure you stay true to yourself and your vision. Also, you must be willing to take risks, so surround yourself with people who TRULY support you and believe in what you are doing. It helps to have back-up when you are taking those leaps of faith!