As a third-generation entrepreneur growing up in family business, I learned what it meant to work hard whether it be in my father's bakery or my grandfather's automotive business. So, while I knew that I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, for years I had no idea what kind of business I wanted to start! In my early twenties, I remember attending a business conference where Jack Canfield posed the question: "What do love doing so much that you lose track of time?" That's when it clicked. For me, my idea of a wonderful Saturday night was reading either Entrepreneur or Shape magazine in Barnes & Noble with coffee in-hand. I realized I wanted to turn my passion for fitness into a business. For years, I had created my own fitness and nutrition journals because it was through the process of journaling that I overcame my seven-year battle with eating disorders. I figured that if it could change my life, maybe just maybe it could help others too.
After graduating from CU-Boulder with a degree in Information Systems, I worked my way up the corporate ladder in high-tech marketing. While still working full-time, I started the MBA program at UC Irvine in 2005 with an emphasis on the Entrepreneurship track, where I used my idea for a fitness journal as the subject of many group projects from our business plan competition to a product design course. Shortly after completing my MBA and landing my first 6-figure job, complete with a 401k, benefits, and perks, I quit my job to venture out on my own. Let's just say my mother was not pleased with my decision! I started a boutique marketing consulting agency, which gave me the flexibility to work on my passion project at night: fitbook®.
In 2008, I founded fitlosophy with our flagship product, fitbook: a 12-week fitness and nutrition journal that takes a research-backed pen and paper approach to goal-setting. The company has grown from an idea for a single product to a complete line of innovative planning products that are available at retailers such as Target, Walgreens, and Amazon. From fitness journals that promote goals and gratitude to educational tools for workouts and nutrition, our mission is to redefine how people integrate wellness into their lifestyle – and ultimately, to educate, empower and inspire people to live life fit.
My passion lies in developing products that matter. The driving factor behind creating every single one of our products is to promote embracing a healthy lifestyle and taking a positive approach to reaching goals. In an industry saturated with quick-fix gimmicks, I often say that at fitlosophy we sell hope – not hype.
Putting family first
I believe that the health of any organization starts and ends with the health and happiness of its people. Our innovation, growth, and passion are directly driven by the belief that our purpose is to inspire people to reach their full potential. This photo illustrates the collaborative nature of our team. Every step of the product process from ideation to completion involves input from each face you see in this picture - with the exception of two additional team members who have joined since this photo was taken!Credit: fitlosophy
For me, my team is like family. We've been through so much together – from tough things like losing mothers to cancer and bad breakups to joyous things like getting married and watching their kids grow up. This photo makes me smile, because it truly shows the joy we all experience in bringing fitlosophy's vision to life, together.
Often times our struggles are what become our strengths. Early on, most obstacles were operational, such as sourcing, manufacturing, importing and distributing products. As the business grew, cash flow became increasingly vital for managing the extreme seasonality of owning a business in the fitness industry, especially when your biggest customers are mass retailers. Forecasting becomes extremely vital to be able to have enough inventory to fill large orders on time, while also planning cash reserves because there's often a four to six-week gap between the time you go to production and actually get paid. Fortunately, solid vendor relationships who scaled with me coupled with strong sales growth allowed us to fund the growth of the business organically.
Fast forward, and I see now how those early growing pains were lessons that I needed for us to scale to expand into more doors and create more products to change more lives. Our go-forward strategy is to focus intently on innovation and brand expansion through rapidly launching new products for our customers. This year alone we will launch 10 to 12 new products, all created based on the nearly 10 years' experience in growing this brand from a single product. With solid distribution and a core group of loyal customers, fitlosophy is now positioned for exponential growth by creating seriously innovative products - products that matter.
About the author: Angela Mader, is the founder and chief fitlosopher at fitlosophy. What was once her own personal battle has evolved into her passion for positively influencing the lives of others. Born and raised in Colorado, Angela is a graduate of CU-Boulder, holds an MBA from UC-Irvine, and has certifications in personal training and fitness nutrition. She is a self-proclaimed goal guru, motivational speaker, and type-A entrepreneur who thrives on new ideas, is driven by passion, and powered by coffee.
Edited for brevity and clarity by Sammi Caramela.