Welcome to the next post in The Power Of Broke Community Series! I hope you are preparing for a great Fourth Of July holiday tomorrow!
This week features Shark Tank Entrepreneurs, Sara and Bob Moylan from Shefit. Not only will you find their story quite inspirational, but also will show you how so many brands come about organically by fulfilling a personal 'pain point', which sparks an idea which eventually evolves into a business.
Hi guys! I’m Sara Marie, and this is my story about how the power of broke helped me turn a problem into my dream job.
Oh my gosh, you guys, to be completely honest - it has not been an easy journey. It all started while I was pregnant with my first of four children. I was a competitive athlete, I was consistently training and maintaining a regular exercise routine. My pregnancy caused my breasts to greatly increase in size and I began skipping workouts due to the neck, back and breast pain - as well as the embarrassment from my chest bouncing uncontrollably. When I did work out, I would wear two or three bras at a time to compensate for the lack of support for my breasts.
That’s when I had the idea for a revolutionary new sports bra to solve my very personal problem. I set out to create a solution to my workout woes and created a prototype of the first fully custom-adjustable bra, a bra that would support and control my breasts during high impact workouts.
Little did I know, women all around me were having the same exact issue. And so, my path to creating the Shefit Ultimate Sports Bra began.
Idiotic, Pointless and Hopeless
When I started, I put every bit of my passion into this product only to feel completely shut down. I constantly had to fight off self-doubt and negative feedback. I can’t tell you how many times someone approached me to remind me what I was doing was “idiotic” or “pointless” or “hopeless.” People would tell me, all the time, that I had no chance at competing with the big sports bra manufacturers. They’d tell me I was wasting my time and almost had me convinced that anything I was thinking of was going to be trumped by the top dogs in the industry. Every time I would think I was making progress, people would tell me to quit. It was definitely taking a toll on my emotions.
Make Sacrifices to Make Dreams
By this point, the idea was also costing quite a bit. I was spending all my free time building prototypes. We had maxed out our credit cards and started to deplete all of our savings to secure fabrics and manufacturing. Bob and I started to argue about how we could continue to afford this. We sacrificed our plans for newer cars and made the commitment to drive our old cars and keep repairing them, we chose to use our car money on design improvements to make the bra the best it could be. We dipped into our 401k’s and our kid’s college funds just to have the necessary funds to secure the first order of 2000 pieces.
It wasn't easy. The emotional toll, the time, the money... Bob can attest, I'm handing the keyboard over to him...
Hey, everyone, it’s Bob. Sara is right, starting out it definitely wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. It was a slow process. While it did take me some time to get fully on board, even I knew Sara had a great idea. But, like she said, we were spending every dollar we took in - whether it was the daily expenses of our family or building the business, every dollar we made was going out, and then some. On top of that, because neither of us had ever created a fashion product, we ended up trusting people we probably shouldn’t have - it felt like, at every turn, someone was shaking us down for more money, often times, a lot more money.
Then, in my sales job, I lost one of my largest accounts - an account that equated to a large portion of our income. That forced us to tighten our proverbial belts. We were staring broke in the face, but rather than let it defeat us, we turned it into power. We looked for the most cost effective ways to run our company. We were too broke to trust the snake oil salesmen any longer. If Plan A was all the consultants and vendors and blind trust, it was time to enact plan B. Plan A was no longer an option. We took the power of broke and used it to dig in, to educate ourselves more and to make it happen with more hard work.
After everything we've been through, I can tell you one thing: Failure was not an option. We turned the prospect of being broke into an opportunity to learn and grow even more, and work to build an amazing company. To this very day, we have not taken a paycheck from Shefit, neither of us. Sara and I hope to, soon enough, but as of right now we've put every dollar back into our company to help it grow.
How the Power of Broke Helped Us
Guys, believe me, Bob and I were put in a position where we didn't just utilize the power of broke to start a business, we lived it every day. Being broke puts your back against the wall, it helps you to realize that when you’ve exhausted all of your conventional options, you’ve got the power to create your own new options.
We had to work with what we had. We would come home after a long day working our full time jobs, take care of the kids, then package, ship and deliver the first Shefit bras to customers with whatever small amounts of free time we had remaining. Not only had we invested hours, days and weeks, we had invested most of our savings, our kids’ college funds, and put our home on the line for this company.
Then sales started to take off. The Shefit bra was featured on the “Today” show and mentioned on TV’s “The Doctors.” We never imagined Shefit would become so popular, but we knew it was a creative solution to a problem women face every day.
Through hard work, determination and a lot of persistence, the Shefit Ultimate Sports Bra has gone from a simple solution for my personal problem to a product with a patented design and over 1.5Million dollars in sales - in less than three years.
The power of broke helps guide our every business decision, and helps us to calculate the risk and weigh the potential return. We focus on the hustle and utilize every one of our strengths to continue to grow the business. Each stage of a start-up company presents new problems that have to be overcome . We are convinced that if you run your company on broke, it gives you the power to analyze every dollar and helps you grow your business.
It's not a question of, “Can we, or can't we?” It is simply doing what needs to be done.
I hope you enjoyed Sara and Bob's story! Please feel free to share with your community to help spread the message on how people are practicing the power of broke!
Remember, if you haven't submitted your story as of yet, I encourage you to do so by clicking here.
Have a great holiday weekend! - DJ