This morning as I sit here looking at my computer wondering what to write, I can't help but reflect on the last 9 months. She Lifts Gear is still such a baby - in it's infancy stage. A year ago I discussed the idea with my mom. Since that time I feel like so much has happened. We've made huge progress, learned a lot along the way, and are steadily gaining traction...slow but steady traction.
I had a website built and product in the store when She Lifts Gear went live last August. I started with ball caps and a few tank designs. It wasn't long after that I added gloves. Since then I've released more than a dozen tank, tee, and hoody designs, beanies, more hats, and water bottles. Within the next few weeks I'll have bags, gym towels, and wrist straps. (PS Can't wait!)
Based on the philosophy that I wanted to pay for everything as I went, not going in to debt, I have kept my inventory modest - meaning small. This has also allowed me to see what people like.
Perhaps my taste is different than you'rs. It wouldn't be the first time. It also allows me to move inventory and release new designs more frequently - thus the "Limited Edition" approach. I still think this is the right way to go. I love being able to release new designs on a whim, also letting my faithful shoppers know that they will be one of not too many who have the same piece.
I've been approached several times by people who want to invest. While I consider each offer extensively, my gut continues to tell me it's not the right time and not right for me. Right now this is my baby, and I love being able to steer the direction as it feels right without having to report to anyone. I also hate the idea of if for any reason She Lifts doesn't do as well as I'd hoped being responsible for someone else's investment. I don't want to let anyone down.
However as amazing as this journey has been so far, it hasn't been without setbacks. I am learning as I go. I literally started this business with a few hundred dollars - money I'd received from meal planning. That's it. Truthfully, I had more to start, but the initial manufacturer I chose to help me with the belts I was hoping to start with didn't deliver, and I haven't been able to retract it. That's a story in and of itself, but it's been an incredibly hard part of this journey because I lost a good amount of money. I'm still trying to work something out, but my pleas have fallen on deaf ears. I was tempted to give up before I even started, but I didn't. I scraped what I could together and as I made money I put it right back in to inventory. It's been like that ever since.
I felt that She Lifts Gear had potential. I hoped the mission and the products would be well received. So far so good.
I think some people think She Lifts Gear is a lot bigger than it really is. I am surprised at how many people approach me wanting free product, asking to be ambassadors at a discount, or wanting to help me "advertise" my brand. I am thankful for the interest, and of course I want people to share the product, the brand, and the mission. I understand the value of athletes and ambassadors, but I am not there yet. Hopefully soon. I wrote an entire article on this around a month ago. I'm always floored by the amount of women though who ask for free product - without first being a customer. It just boggles my mind.
I'm working hard to keep the prices down. I want all gear to be priced within reach of every fitness enthusiast. I shopped around extensively before starting She Lifts Gear, and I found tanks ranging from $25 to $35 if not more, and their designs weren't half as impressive. Of course, I'm biased, but still. I decided to price everything on the lower end to help make it available to all. I feel that we should ALL be able to be a part of such a great cause while wearing cute gear.
That brings me to the cause. That's another thing that I have to consider. So far we have raised a little more than $500 for the Dream Foundation. That probably doesn't sound like much, but it's $500 more than what they had. I am so grateful knowing that we're not just in this for us. Sure we all love new stuff. Who doesn't? I love to shop, and I LOVE wearing new workout clothes to the gym or out for a run, but I also love knowing that part of the proceeds WE raise goes to a cause that's greater than us. When I think of those in need, especially those struggling with terminal illness, I can't even imagine the pain and desperation they feel.
I believe that we were all meant to do great things. That includes taking care of us and our families, of course. But we live in a world there is so much need. If each of us helped to better the circumstances for others in some small way on a daily basis, imagine how different things could be. Little things DO make a difference. And even if it only something small, it IS something. So whether we raise $500 or $500,000 we are doing something!!
Which again brings me back to the messages asking for free product...do they not understand the mission?
I have NOT taken a cent out of the business for personal gain. At all. Some day I will, of course, it is a business after all. But from the day I started She Lifts Gear every penny I have received has gone right back in to the business in some shape or form. Whether it be for new designs, website management, taxes, PayPal fees, new inventory, or any of a hundred other miscellaneous business expenses, everything has been funneled right back in to the system. I pretend like it's not even there. It takes money to make money. It also takes money to grow a business, and I'm finally at the threshold where I am looking for new ways to help grow She Lifts Gear.
Retail? Ambassadors? Partnerships? Consumer shows? Advertising? SEO? Sigh. There are so many great ways to help grow business and a brand, but with limited capital, it's an ongoing question...where to start first?
So that being said, I wanted to say THANK YOU to each of you for sticking with me. Anyone who starts a business has a dream. She Lifts Gear is mine. Some day I hope that She Lifts Gear is incredibly profitable, ranks on the first page of Google, has ambassadors and athletes of its own, and makes a lot of money for charity. Oh, and I also hope we're all sporting new gear we absolutely love that we find pride in wearing. I hope that we all feel a part of a like-minded community, where we've hopefully made a new circle of friends, and also know that we are making a significant charitable difference.
I started this hoping to leave a mark. It's a testament to the bond I have with my mom. As a 2nd generation bodybuilder and as daughter who loves her stage 4 lung cancer stricken mom immensely I hope this is a way to leave a legacy on behalf of both of us.
Thank YOU for sticking with us. Both of us.
How can you help? Please help me share She Lifts Gear. Please talk about it, post about it, and show it off. Your support will do so much more than anything I do. You are the She Lifters.
How can you help? If you want to help?
Continue to be a She Lifts Gear customer.
Share She Lifts Gear Posts.
Post your new items and tag me!
Post on FB, IG, Pinterest, Google+ Twitter, or in your blog! Anywhere!
Encourage friends to sign up for the newsletter!
Share She Lifts Gear blog entries.
Talk about She Lifts Gear.
Tag friends in posts who you think will also love the product.
Contact me if you have ideas how to best grow She Lifts Gear.
Contact me if you want to carry it in your store, studio, or gym.
If you have a substantial presence on social media, contact me.
If you have friends with a lot of public influence, contact me.
More than anything, think outside of the box.
I am open. And I know that we are all in this together.
As a thank you too, I'm offering 15% off of your entire purchase now through the end of May. This is for YOU, my loyal supporters. My early adapters. The She Lifters. My friends. Enter "THANKYOU" at checkout to redeem.
Thank you. If I could reach through this blog and give you a big fat hug, I would. I mean that. Some day I will.
Big hugs always,