5Q Friday profiles women who took a leap of faith career wise to start their own business and create the life they wanted. This week Alicia Thomas shares her story.
1.) Who are you?
My name is Alicia Thomas and I’m 35. I spent most of my career working in technology start-ups in California but decided to come to New York for a change of pace. I packed up all of my things and left sunny, carefree California for the exciting fast pace of New York City. I had an awesome two years at Columbia Business School followed by a longish stint in consulting. I was looking to get back into the start-up world when I was introduced to Pam Graf, my business partner. Together we founded KiwiSweat, a pop-up fitness company located in NYC.
2.) What do you do/what’s your business?
KiwiSweat is a pop-up fitness company that produces fitness related events in unique NYC spaces. We look for non-traditional spaces off the beaten path. Think The MOMA, The Brooklyn Bridge, Warehouses, Galleries, Lofts, etc. etc. Our goal is to break up the monotony of your normal routine with something fun and exciting. We want to get people out of their comfort zone and make working out something you really look forward to. We’ve partnered with some of the best instructors NYC has to offer and we’re popping up at some pretty amazing spaces. Our next spin event – Nov. 17-20 – is at The Invisible Dog, a three-story art center in Brooklyn (51 Bergen Street). It’s a gorgeous space with good “chi” and we’re so excited to be popping-up there!
3.) Where do you do it?
The better question is where don’t we do it?! We’ve popped-up at Chelsea Market, in a loft space in DUMBO and now we’re popping up at Invisible Dog. In 2012, we’re planning to pop-up at the Frying Pan, Brooklyn Bridge Park, rooftops, photography studios, artist galleries, a vault, the archway under the Manhattan Bridge and other interesting spaces.
4.) When did you decide to take the plunge and “create the life you want”?
My “must take the plunge” moment came with the birth of my son in 2010. I knew I wanted to be a working mom. But once my son was born, it became clear that if I was going to be spending time away from him, I had to be doing something that I was passionate about. Lots of people would say to me, “It’s not supposed to be fun. That’s why they call it work.” I simply refused to look at it that way. Life is way too short not to LOVE what you do. You might not love every second of it, but it’s important to be truly invested in what you’re working towards. I can’t spend four days out of the week just waiting for Friday to come. No way. So, soon after he was born, I started taking baby steps towards starting my own business and then, almost like magic, things started to fall into place. I happened to be talking to a friend about starting a fitness studio or other fitness related business and she mentioned that she had a friend, Pam, who was interested in doing the same thing. She introduced us and we started “business dating”. A few months later, KiwiSweat was born!
5.) Why do you love it?
Oh man… How long do you have? First off I will say that I have never worked harder in my life. But it is so rewarding! It is really amazing to be building something. Even on the hard days when we have a problem with our website or our equipment delivery is delayed, I know that I am working towards a goal and building something I am proud of and that I think is a great service.
Second, my business partner is absolutely amazing. We just gel. She’s like my long-lost friend from college. She’s truly enjoyable to be around and that makes all the difference in the world. Every now and again we sneak a glass of wine and just dish about the day. It really makes it easier to have a partner to share this experience with.
Lastly, I feel I am finally on the right path in my life. I knew this was something I just had to do. It’s not just another job. It’s a passion. Even if it fails, which it won’t, I know I would feel more satisfied having tried and failed, than to never have tried at all.
-Contributed by Alicia Thomas. Learn more about KiwiSweat.
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