I'm a real girl boss.
My primary day gig (and passion) is as CEO/Founder of the ethical clothing line, Encircled.
Coaching is my side hustle. It's something I do because when I started Encircled, I saw so many online business owners struggling, and I knew I could help.
There aren't a lot of resources out there specifically for product-based female entrepreneurs. Resources that acknowledge both the mental challenges of entrepreneurship (I.e. What do I do to feel less alone? Will I ever be successful?) as well as the practical (I.e. how do I build a marketing plan? How much inventory should I have? How do I ship a product?).
My goal is to build a space where eCommerce girl bosses like you feel at home. Where you can learn, flourish and grow while feeling supported, and understood.
Many business 'coaches' have never built a successful business, or have built their business off of telling you how to build one (that's a mind boggling one!), or worse yet -- lack any real-world business experience.
I spent the first 12+ years of my career working in corporate.
When I completed my 4-year degree in Finance/Economics at Western University, I felt lost. I didn't really know what I wanted to do career-wise, and found it hard to secure a decent paying job. So, I spent the summer bartending in cottage country. Reasonable, right?
While there, I applied for any job that peaked my interest. Eventually landing a gig at the head office of Canada's top lingerie company managing their in-store incentives and wage cost. My desk was in the hallway. It was far from glam, but I had two awesome mentors (both of which I still speak to today).
After a few years, I was bored. I'd figured the job out. There was also no upward path unless I wanted to relocate, so I found a new job in marketing in home security. I often felt boxed in working at a corporate office - frustrated by the processes, red tape and complacency. I longed to be a strategy consultant. From the outside, consulting seemed so fun and high profile -- helping big companies optimize, create and improve.
A few years later, I did my MBA at Queen's while working full-time. It's basically mandatory to have an MBA for consulting. It was hard work, but I love learning so the experience energized me. I was a straight A student with my eyes laser focused on getting into one of the top tier consulting firms.
Then, 2008 happened.
And consulting firms cut all of their hiring budgets.
I ended up (quite luckily) scoring a job in brand management in an industry that is virtually recession-proof. Personal care products. I worked the next 3 years at Colgate-Palmolive as a brand manager in Deodorant and Toothpaste. During this time, I absorbed everything. Consumer packaged goods companies are some of the best run companies in the world. But, I still wanted to be a consultant.
In 2011, that dream came true. One of my mentors from my first job was at the top retail consulting firm in Canada and recruited me to his team. I was elated. I loved the work. The people. The passion. But man, was it exhausting.
Living out of a suitcase, working every single weekend, and constantly being evaluated on your utilization (I.e. how much money each working hour was making the firm) felt stressful.
I was making more money than ever, and had finally landed my 'dream' job BUT I was miserable.
And that in itself felt awful. Every step I'd taken in the past decade was to get this job, and I did not like it (insert every self-loathing feeling, ever).
Then a twist of fate.
An email in my inbox asking if I wanted to go on a yoga retreat to Costa Rica. A good friend of mine had booked the trip a year ago and the retreat had a last minute cancellation. I was on the 'bench' at work (meaning, not assigned to a client) so I took off to Costa Rica.
While packing for that trip, I had a lightbulb moment. I saw the need for a product (and ultimately business idea) that would change the course of the next few years of my life dramatically.
It took me about 6 months to refine and launch Encircled with our first product, the Chrysalis Cardi. Then, it took almost 2 years to leave my full-time job.
I was scared to leave. I was making a great living. I was inexperienced in the field I had started the company in (i.e. not a fashion designer), and was single and totally reliant on my income to survive. I had no certainty that Encircled would actually be something that mattered, but one day, I couldn't manage both any longer. I knew my full-time gig was holding Encircled back from more, and I took the leap.
Presently, I work full-time as the CEO of Encircled. We're tracking on four years of triple-digit growth as a primarily online-only ethical clothing brand. Within the second year of business, we were profitable. We're a 7-figure business.
I have a team (at time of writing) of 12 employees, and a lofty office space in a vibrant Junction area of Toronto. I have a regular salary, benefits, and recently negotiated an angel investor placement in the business to help fuel our growth.
I started Encircled with $20k in my savings, and am proud of where it is today. However, I want you to know that I'm not done yet. Encircled is growing. It's a living, breathing brand. With every stage of growth in a business comes new challenges and new opportunities. I'm always a work in progress.
I'll never over-sell my success, or pretend to be perfect because I'm not but what I can promise is that I'll always be open and authentic with sharing my journey to get to where I am today.
I've been where you are - with a few thousands dollars (or less) in sales a month, and wondering if this is the right thing to do. Wondering whether you should give up, or keep going. Frustrated with the process, the others around you who seemingly are overnight successes and feeling lost about what to do next.
This is why I started this.
To help you gain clarity, make a plan and grow your online store to new heights that you never thought were possible.
I bring a unique combination of my real-world experience of running a successful brand, and frameworks/best practices that I've learned working at multi-billion dollar retailers to amplify your business results.
I know how to think small, and act big.
On the personal side, I'm a surfer, traveler, and total business geek. Proud Puppy mama of Harlow. I love reading, listening to podcasts, and spending time with friends.
Want to chat? Email hello (at) kristisoomer (dot) com
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