Note: Read to bottom of this post to learn how to enter for the give-away. Believe I Am is giving a Training Journal and Betty Designs is giving a wrist band, beenie and water bottle kit!
As an NCAA All-American coxswain for the Princeton Women’s Rowing Team, Elisette Carlson, Founder of SMACK! Media, looked towards a future of possibilities. Alongside lofty career goals and the desire to start a family, she was also determined to keep sports as a part of her life because according to Elisette, “I loved the way I felt when I was participating in a sport, being active or competing.”
The current post-Title IX generation of young women are privy to unlimited athletic possibilities as well as an entire sector of career opportunities ranging from professional athletes to high powered careers in the sports industry to athletic inspired entrepreneurial ventures. This is a new generation of role models who have taken their athletic experience from the field and applied it to their career ambitions. Specifically, these women continue to participate in the sports they are passionate about beyond their college years and simultaneously start a family. Young girls no longer face limits in the opportunities they can seek, rather, they are more often faced with the daunting task of deciding how much they can take on. Do I want to play sports? What will my career be? Do I want to be a Mom as well? Can I do it all?
As a child, Kristin Mayer, Founder and Designer of Betty Designs, couldnever sit still, expect for when she was able to draw. Her early inclinations towards art and movement led to a successful design career and equally solid results as a podium age group triathlete. Kristin still recalls her first triathlon, “That feeling of accomplishment is something I’ll never forget and that’s what hooked me. I had no idea I could push myself like that.” Her newfound ability to challenge herself along with building relationships amongst the triathlon community’s top agents led to the perfect niche for this single mom’s skills– designing custom triathlon apparel, swimsuits and cycle kits for some of the world’s best triathletes. Kristin’s individual custom-designed race uniforms soon developed into a full line of cycling, triathlon and swim apparel that expressed Kristin’s feelings and inspiration when it came to racing. Her line of apparel and accessories, Betty Designs stands apart from others on the market with bold, bright and edgy designs that are more runway than bicycling billboard and also scream “I can be beautiful and badass at the same time!”
When Co-Founder of Believe I Am, Roisin McGettigan, was eleven years old she already had a clear vision of what she wanted to be when she grew up—an Olympian. Not only did she see herself competing on the world’s biggest stage at such a young age, she also understood and felt, “ready to commit to training there and then.” After achieving her goal and competing in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing (Steeplechase, Ireland), the timing for Roisin to make the switch from athletics to starting a family and launching Believe I Am came naturally. Roisin said, “My desire to start a family began to outweigh my desire to run personal bests.” One month before she became pregnant with her daughter Hope, Roisin put her time and energy into developing and launching Believe I Am with Lauren Fleshman, Co-founder of Believe I Am, Similar to experiencing childbirth, labor and the rigorous schedule of training for the Olympics, Roisin realized that creating the company’s flagship product, training journals hand crafted and designed for women runners, was especially tough. However, similar to her other pursuits, she found that, “It’s really easy to work hard and get things done when you care about something.”
Elisette feels that “sports and competition teaches one that there are no limits and that you can do anything you want if you apply yourself to it.” As a coxswain, Elisette’s role was, “about leadership and about learning how to succeed and win by working with a team and extracting the best out of every team member to produce the best results.” “Ultimately,” Elisette comments that “sports inspired me to compete professionally in a field that I was passionate about (Marketing and PR) and was a major catalyst towards my taking the leap to launch SMACK! Media,” right in between the birth of her two sons, Andrew and Luke. Elisette’s team work ethic and enthusiasm has built a crew of 7 women who are leading the way in Public Relation(ships) and Marketing in the sports, fitness and health sectors.
Lauren feels the carry over from sport to business comes from the individual mindset of the athlete. “Running has given me a strong sense of ownership over my life,” Lauren said. “It is a microcosm of life, with its own pulse, its own goals, its own momentum. Business is no different, so you can apply the same attitude and skills to it that running teaches you.” Lauren has taken a different route than many professional athletes, specifically runners, by launching both Picky Bars and Believe I Am in 2010, in the midst of a highly successful running career that includes 2 U.S. National Titles (5,000 meters) and a 7th place finish at the World Championships (Daegu, 2011). Lauren recently partnered with a women’s apparel company called Oiselle that was founded by a competitive runner and mother, Sally Bergesen. Lauren continues, “Oiselle was an inspiration for me throughout that time, informing my ideas about what it means to be a successful, authentic and growing business.” Today Lauren’s partnership with Oiselle, in lieu of the traditional “shoe sponsorship” for runners, marks a historic shift in the way female (and all) athletes are involved in and can support themselves in sports and as players on and off of the field.
All four women unanimously agree that sports have taken on the additional role of stress release while balancing motherhood with entrepreneurship. For Kristin, “the training is MY time. For me. I think it’s important that moms have something they do for themselves at some point in the day. I also come up with a lot of design ideas when I’m out training.” Roisin also looks to running for inspiration, “it’s where my creative ideas are born.” For women whose lives revolved around athletics for so many years, continuing to participate in the sport they love is an essential way to remain balanced. As Elisette puts this, “Running is paramount. Without exercise, without sweat, without running, I’m not myself.” Lauren also stresses the importance of time for yourself: “Running is always the epicenter for me. People may find that offensive, that marriage or a child or God or something else should be the epicenter. But running is at the very core of my spirit, and the origin of everything in my life and all relationships is from my spirit. If not running one day, than some other form of me-time, like music or painting, or walking.”
Organization, self-care and positive outlook are essential traits of these “Super Women,” again traits they likely developed as they balanced playing sports with school, work and friends. For Kristin each day “is full of little compartments of time,” setting aside blocks specifically for work, or training and especially for quality time with her son Gavin. Elisette agrees that, “Scheduling and having a plan is key. You must lay out a game plan, just as you would a race plan. By having a plan and a flexible approach you can be prepared for anything that comes your way. Sure there will be times when a workout might be derailed or the schedule won’t go as planned,” Elisette continues, “but I do my best to try to stick to it and work as efficiently as possible when I’m in the office.”
The consensus amongst these women, who cannot be singularly defined as entrepreneurs, mothers or athletes, is that sports have given all aspects of their life an incredibly rewarding perspective and balance. When asked about advice they give to younger women looking at their goals and future, their responses began emphatically in the same way, “Yes you can do it all!”
Whether you are a mother, an entrepreneur, a college student or an athlete, below are the top tips these “Super Women” offer to anyone looking to juggle their passions, career goals, friendships and relationships with their family:
1. Organization and flexibility are key. Sometimes something in the schedule has to give due to life and/or work. Kristin says it took her a long time to realize this, but she has since reaped the benefits of letting little things go and not “sweating the small stuff.”
2. Stay positive. Elisette encourages women to “try not to criticize yourself if things don’t go perfectly as planned, you can’t make every school event, you miss a workout, etc. Simply make the most out of the situation at hand.”
3. Get connected. Find friends in business. Find friends who are moms. Find friends who are into fitness. Trust Roisin–you’ll need them. “Sisterhoods are real,” she says, “in this day and age where we all don’t have our family and extended family around to help out, it’s essential to have this support, shared wisdom and friendship at hand.”
4. You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. Lauren says her biggest breakthrough came with getting comfortable outsourcing things. “Anything time-consuming that I don’t enjoy doing, I pay someone to do now. Clean my house, take care of the yard, wash the car, etc. Obviously you don’t save as much money as you would doing those things yourself, but it lowers my stress, makes me more productive at the things I enjoy doing and raises the quality of my work. In the end, that will create more financial opportunities than if I were a stress ball who doesn’t sleep and starts to resent my work rather than love it.”
5. Never let sports go. “If it’s been a part of your life for years, it is a part of your soul. Consider participation in sports as good spiritual hygiene. Maintaining the spirit of a female athlete will make everything else you do in life amplified, illuminated.”—Lauren Fleshman
Give away rules: To enter to win a Believe I Am Training Journal and Betty Designs wrist band, beenie and water bottle kit, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post. This comment could be about what it takes to be a Superwoman, Superwomen in your own life or even how you will apply the above 5 tips. There will be only one entry per participant. The cut-off for entries is 12:00 am (midnight) on February 28, 2013. The winner will be chosen at random and announced soon after.