My first experience as an entrepreneur was opening a boxing gym. Everyone around me had their doubts but I pulled it off and was in the boxing industry.I grew my company to 4 gyms and even started franchising the concept. My timing was a little off and just when I had invested more money into growth, the housing market crashed. I had to pull back on the franchising and just focus on keeping my corporate gyms open. This huge bump in the road made me reflect a bit and think about my purpose in life. Was it to open more boxing gyms? Throughout those years I had trained many girls and women and seemed to have a positive impact on them in some way. I was someone they looked up to that showed them that anything is possible, even things that aren’t traditionally done by women. I found it! It was to empower the female community! I wanted to reach ladies around the world and thought that everyone liked t-shirts, so I scraped up $2,000, trademarked Too Pretty and Never Too Pretty, had a website created and placed my first order.
So why Too Pretty? As a fighter, I was told that I was “too pretty” to be a fighter. I felt like they were saying that I couldn’t be a good boxer because of my appearance. It did bother me. I finally figured out that there were other girls and women hearing the same thing but in different professions/sports. Too Pretty was created to smash the gender box!
I am a former Olympic style boxer, Olympic level boxing coach, boxing club owner, cover model, speaker and now created the Too Pretty brand and #NEVERTOOPRETTY movement.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Building the brand has been much harder than growing a chain of boxing gyms. At least for me it is. There are always issue with manufacturing and finding the right ones who are fair in price but also create quality garments and deliver when they say they will. Aside from that there is A LOT of competition in the apparel brand industry. It is a huge challenge to get eyes on your brand. This is especially true if you have not had a celebrity wear your apparel or have investors who can put in some big marketing dollars.
To overcome this I worked hard on creating a community on Instagram. We started to get asked if we had an ambassador program and so the ambassador program was born. We have girls and women all over the world who are brand ambassadors and spread the Never Too Pretty message within their community. These galls are race car drivers, gamers, surfers, business owners, mma fighter, dancers and the list goes on!
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
As I mentioned previously, there were a lot of doubters. Yes, my family doubted me but never outright said it. I still remember my father coming to my first gym and he brought me an application for a position at his company. You see, my father encouraged me to go to college, which I did. I ended up getting a Bachelors degree in Environmental Science. He was all about security. Owning your own business definitely doesn’t offer that. I suppose he was just trying to protect me. I love my dad.
Others close to me definitely doubted me as well and I just used it to fuel my fire. I rather liked having naysayers
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
I don’t quit feel successful yet. I have a long ways to go but I have had small successes along the way.
The first year the brand was started I decided to run a Kickstarter campaign. There were several reasons that campaign was successful. First, I made my goal reasonable. Secondly, I researched Kickstarter campaigns for about 6 months before I launched. Lastly, and most importantly, I was persistent for 30 days to make sure I reached the goal. With only 2 days left I still need $2,000 more and I became the loudest squeaky wheel you have ever heard! I am not a person who has been given anything nor do I ask for anything so you can imagine how hard it was for me to bother people to support the campaign. But, I did it! The pestering paid off and I surpassed the goal by $1,000. Funny thing is that my “influence” to make this happen came from my father. Ironic.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
I actually don’t wish I knew anything then that I know now. Quit the opposite. I wish I was still naive to business. It was nice to start out and not know how much work lied ahead, how hard it would be, all of the obstacles I would face. Having on rose colored glasses is nice sometimes.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
I would tell them to keep their eye on the prize. Whatever goal they set out, keep looking at it and reach it!
Sometimes it is best to plow forward without second guessing or over thinking things. Perfection does not exist, so don’t let it stall your progress.