DCFunemployment: Tell the people – Who are you?
Hi! I’m Kimberly Wattrick, the founder of Summit To Soul – a new athleisure boutique on Barrack’s Row. I started playing tennis when I was 4 years old and have been an athlete ever since. I love any and all sports, have tried (and secretly enjoyed) every fitness craze imaginable, and own more yoga pants than I should admit (DCF: You are not alone sister!!). I’m also a finance nerd (CFA) and international relations junky (SAIS’er). I came up with the idea for Summit To Soul about a year ago, and it truly combines all of my passions into one beautiful place.
DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?
KW: No matter what endeavor I’ve taken on, I’ve always worked extraordinarily hard at it. For me, funemployment is an opportunity to take my work ethic and apply it to something that I can say I built from scratch. It’s about building a successful business that incorporates community and sustainability, living my passion and purpose, and finding ways to delight my customers every time they walk in the door.
While my path may seem nonlinear at first glance, I actually think a lot of my life experiences guided me to where I am today. I played D1 tennis at Georgetown, worked in investment management and corporate finance, and have trained for countless long distance races.
DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?
KW: A few of my closest friends in DC were the first cheerleaders of the business. Friends helped me think through the business plan, come up with a name, create a logo, hunt for real estate, interview contractors, take trips to IKEA, paint, hang the inventory, teach me how to ring up a sale (!), and brainstorm fun new ideas for the store.
DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?
KW: When I was in my mid-20s I was living and working in Asia. I took a holiday near the Tibetan Autonomous Region and became critically ill after hiking in elevation. International SOS medevac’d me to a hospital in Hong Kong where I spent a few weeks unconscious as I battled High Altitude Cerebral Edema. After that experience, I was determined to do work that I loved. It took a long time to get to that place, but that experience without a doubt shaped who I am and what I’m doing today. It even inspired the name of my store.
DCF: Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?
KW: Capitol Hill has a ton of women owned businesses and I get so much inspiration from the work they do. I’m lucky that Summit To Soul has been able to find ways to partner with many of them. Planning these awesome events with great partners and seeing how much fun our customers have at them is the best motivation.
DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?
KW: To be honest, balance is a hard thing to find these days. I am still working a full time job in addition to owning Summit To Soul. Ultimately that leads to very few minutes in the day for down time. But for me, all it takes is a 30 minute run to recharge. I wish I had time for longer runs, but I take what I can get. I also find my balance in the mornings with my dog, Miles. I take her to Lincoln Park everyday and get joy watching her play with the other pups.
DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?
KW: Unfortunately as I’ve built the business I’ve had to sacrifice my social life, and at times the Saturday long runs that I love so much. It’s a lot working a full time job and running the store, but it’s been so rewarding – it’s already paying off, and I know these short term sacrifices will be worth it in the long run.
DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?
KW: I’m lucky that the fitness and fashion industries are largely driven by women. I’ve made it a point to carry as many women owned brands as I can – and focus on brands that support women athletes of all shapes and sizes. That said men just assume it’s “another yoga store” and have downplayed the effort it takes to run a store. Even the other day, I had a man try to pitch me on various financial services he thought the business needed. He started the conversation by assuming that I was a yoga instructor who wouldn’t understand what he was trying to sell me (his words!). Needless to say, he was pretty embarrassed when I told him my background. It’s unfortunate that these stereotypes exist, but you can’t let them get you down.
DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?
KW: I think the best advice I’ve gotten is to believe in the vision and what I’m trying to create. And also to be patient, because success doesn’t happen over night. I like to think I listen to this advice, but things are always easier said than done. I’m getting better and I try to remind myself of this daily.
DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?
KW: There’s been a lot of little bumps along the way… staying in jobs that make me miserable for too long, staying in dead-end relationships for too long, staying in cities that I never really loved living in for too long… I think the overriding lesson learned from these experiences is to trust my instincts and believe in myself.
DCF: What is your proudest moment?
KW: My proudest moment was Summit To Soul’s opening weekend. It was amazing to see how the vision I had for the store came to fruition – in ways that exceeded my wildest expectations.
DCF: What’s next?
KW: Summit To Soul is planning a number of free pop-up classes with some amazing boutique fitness studios in the DC area. We will be doing free classes almost every Monday evening between now and Christmas in the store.