Tell us a little about your background and your role within FLYKICK?
Before starting a career in health and wellness, I was working as a designer in Canada, and found that any free time I had I was in the gym or in a class. After taking a role with Lululemon Athletica and focusing on what really made me happy, I decided to take my passion and make it my life!
The goal-chasing didn’t stop there. I loved working in Canada, but had my sights set on London and took the leap across the pond and re-joined the original team at Lululemon. They had opened the brand’s first international store! It was an exciting time to say the least. A big part of our roles in London was to introduce the most supreme guest experience, and yes it was all about stretchy pants, but the team was encouraged to focus on goals, ambitions and be in the practice of continual learning. It was with this team that I set goals to compete in a body building competition within 1 year and to run my own fitness company within 5 years.
As you can see, I love setting goals, so after entering my competition it was time to focus on luxury fitness boutiques. Psycle at this time was a single site location, a studio full of potential and a team of young ambitious staff members that wanted to make a difference in their clients’ life. I had just experienced my own transformation through fitness, both physically and mentally and wanted to find a way to share that with a community. Accepting a Studio Manager role was a great step in the right direction. In a span of two months, we were able to open Psycle’s second studio, and that gave us a chance to refine the process in which fitness boutiques build and inspire a community. Canary Wharf was an interesting location with high stress jobs, a very corporate-like atmosphere, and there was Psycle: a release, a space to reset and shake things up.
I enjoyed my time there and still think it’s one of London’s best spin studios, but found myself needing more of a challenge. I had now been in the luxury fitness industry for 4 years and wanted to take the knowledge I had acquired and build something unique, while also working alongside a team whose ambition was to build a studio around a concept that truly benefited the body while giving Londoners the best workout possible.
Boxing was my go-to outside the weight room. I loved spin but found my body plateaued and needed more variety in movement. Boxing and kickboxing are truly the most effective workouts. Your body completely transforms, making you stronger, quicker and more agile while you mind conditions itself to acquire benefits such as coordination improvement, memory and improving one’s focus; It’s like meditation in movement!
A friend who knew I was looking for a new challenge and that I love boxing, introduced me to Ben and Charlie, and with them we began to build this project called Flykick.
This is my absolute dream job come true! I kept my eye on the idea of being part of something that I could really put my heart and soul into, and Charlie and Ben opened that door when they offered me a Co-Founder role with the company.
What incentivised you to start your company?
I combined my skill set of customer service and luxury boutique studio management into a concept that would top anything else seen in London. One thing for sure is that I am passionate about creating a space for the growth of a community, and to better people’s lives through physical activity. Flykick does exactly that. We aren’t just a fitness studio; We are a home, a community and an experience. Starting Flykick meant that Ben, Charlie, and I could make choices that really reflected our values and contribute something of passion to the London fitness scene.
Have you ever done anything like this before – where did you first start?
I have been a business owner before, years ago in Canada during my pre-university days. I co-owned a business at the early age of 18 – 22, stepping away to go back to school. Entrepreneurship has always been in my family; both my parents have owned their own businesses, so I guess it was just a natural drive for me to want to do the same. The fitness industry however is completely different, and it has been such a rewarding experience.
How do you handle the competition?
We don’t really think about competition. It is true that there is a growing amount of boutique concepts opening, but we are confident in our unique offer. There really isn’t anything similar at this time. We also don’t approach other boutiques as competitors. We see them more so as comrades in the same industry. Long gone are the days where studios own their clientele. We know our guest goes to a variety of class offerings, and that’s great. In fact, keeping your body guessing with different types of exercise is healthy!
What do you predict for wellness in 2019?
I believe there is a shift going on within the industry. People are really focusing on self-care and not only their physical health but also mental health. We are all waking up to the fact that in order to truly be happy, we need balance and sometimes that means taking a class, saying ‘no,’ staying in, re-examining our diet and maybe taking a mindfulness or meditation workshop. I think we will see more of this as a focus in 2019.
This sits well within the ethos of Flykick. Something remarkable happens to your mental state. You become so connected and focused on your movements that you can’t think of anything else.
It is like meditation in movement – unknowingly you are allowing yourself 60 min of a clear mind as well as a solo focus, which helps shut out everything else.
How do you promote and PR your business?
We have staff that focus predominantly on ON and OFFLINE outreach and an external company to help us with further exposure.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
When running a business, everyday is different. With a start-up our hours differ day-to-day, week-to-week. For the most part we are here every day in studio, and we also aim to get 3-5 classes in per week. You have to live and breathe your business!
What has been the hardest thing(s) about starting this latest venture? How you’ve worked around the challenges.
Work-life balance is probably the biggest challenge. You need to jump into the deep end fully, and with a new start-up it’s completely expected and needed. Rather than calling it ‘hard times’, I’d say we have had the usual experiences such as challenges with infrastructure and learning what does and doesn’t work operationally, but I think Ben, Charlie and I – with our backgrounds in start-up businesses – had realistic expectations when we began.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start in the health and wellness industry?
Do not start unless you live, breathe and love your concept. You need to know your stuff! You need to love the product, love people and have the time to nurture and grow your brand. Also, find mentors, ask questions and build focus groups out of your friends, family or the demographic you are targeting.
Lastly, keep it simple! Don’t spread your concept or brand too broadly or thinly. Do it, know it and keep it focused.
What are your favourite brands right now?
Well, I am a Lululemon alumnus, so that goes without saying. For fitness concepts, I would say Spinco CANADA, Champs CANADA, Y7 NYC, Rumble NYC.
What’s been your biggest achievement in life thus far?
Flykick! And marrying the most amazing man – ha! On top of those great moments in life, I would say knowing what I want and believing in myself enough to go after it.
And biggest failure?
Oh, good question! Are there ever failures, though, really?
Anyone who finds success fails a lot, you take risks, you fail, they give you the best lessons, and you move on. You only fail truly if you let it defeat you.
What’s been the funniest moment of your career?
Being underestimated! That’s a great one!
Who were your role models growing up?
My parents. Their work ethic was definitely an inspiration. Chip Wilson, one of my first managers at Lululemon, Michelle Bernard, and now Charlie Kemper and Ben Leonard Kane. I make sure to surround myself with mentors and people who are more knowledgeable then me so that I can continue to elevate myself and grow.
Did you have a mentor or people you asked for advice?
This sounds funny, but I still speak to my parents, I rely on my friends to help me keep it real, and I read, read, read! I love Harvard Business Review and Courier and any book I can get my hands on. Recently Ben gifted me the book Shoe Dog, and I can’t wait to dive in.
How has what you do, changed you as a person?
Simultaneously I have grown more confident and more humble. It is hard work! I have learned that I am more resilient than I thought, that I will do whatever it takes, I won’t run when things get tough, and that asking for help is not a bad thing.
If you could do any other job, aside from what you do now, what would it be?
Wow to be honest, can it get better than this?
I would probably like to work with youth more and involve travel in some aspect! Also become a Mom – that’s a big job!
What’s yet to come?
The sky is the limit! We are aiming high and are super excited about expanding and growing Flykick.
Do you have any unconventional words of advice?
Don’t half ass it.
What is your motto?
What you allow will continue.
If money and time were no object, what would be on your to-do and to-see list?
TRAVEL – it’s truly the most important aspect of life, and a gift that our generation can enjoy more easily.
We would take Flykick all over the world – no joke!
I would have loads of children.
I would buy all the shoes!