"I want to thoughtfully engage in conversations surrounding body image, self-love, and female empowerment" - KC
As a personal brand photographer in Pittsburgh I get the chance to work with some pretty amazing people. KC, owner of UrbanFitCo., offers women of all shapes and sizes a place to shop for their fit wear needs.
During her personal brand session we focused on representing women of all ages and sizes. Her mission is to help women feel empowered and confident no matter where they are in their journey.
Read on and see how KC is using her life experience and her passion for helping others to fuel a bigger dream!
Interview with UrbanFitCo Owner, KC
When did you start your business, UrbanFitCo, why did you start your business, and what is the mission behind your business?
I started UrbanFitCo in 2015, shortly after graduating from college. I was interviewing for a lot of positions, and I did receive offers for different positions; however, nothing really felt fulfilling or “lit that fire”. Some people would say I was being picky or had that “millennial entitlement,” but I really wanted a job that I loved, that was fulfilling.
During this time, I was heavy into working out and always wearing active wear. What else is there to do when you’re looking for a job? Haha. However, I wanted more fashion-forward pieces. Something that didn’t scream, “That girl just worked out!”
In the early stages of UrbanFitCo., when we were developing branding/marketing, people would ask me who my target audience or market is? I didn’t want to define the business by that one buyer persona. I thought back to my younger self (the one that experienced bullying and wanted to look a certain way) and thought it would be unfair to leave her behind. I knew I wanted UrbanFitCo. to be a place where all women could have a positive experience.
I realize that there are differences among women, in body type and style. And I know that firsthand. My sister has been a 0 her whole life, whereas my weight has fluctuated most of my life. (In my adult life, I’ve been anywhere from a 4 to a 12, and I am not ashamed to own that.)
I wanted to create an organization where there was no judgment or set a standard, and every woman could feel good about herself. I feel that it’s extremely important to empower women and breakdown all of the B.S. that society has continually fed us.
For me, UrbanFitCo. is more about creating an experience and lifestyle. I want all women to feel empowered and confident right at this very moment, no matter where they are on their journey. To many, shopping can feel like a chore. At UrbanFitCo. we want you to shop to celebrate you.
Urbanfitco. is an organization where there is no set standard in regards to body type. We are women on-the-go with different shapes and style, and our clothing reflects that. We want women to feel empowered and love themselves.
It’s not a matter of shape or size; we believe all women should feel confident, beautiful, and comfortable in what they wear and who they are. Through our unique styles and high-quality brands, we strive to turn this belief into a reality.
A tomboy at heart and a self-proclaimed “guy’s girl”, fitness/athletics were always a part of my life. Growing up, I was always running around the neighborhood with the boys until the sun went down—playing sports, riding bikes, doing really anything. I played soccer (although that was short-lived because I decided I didn’t like allllll the running), basketball, and even dabbled in intramural softball during college. I also went through a phase in middle school where I wanted to play football; unfortunately, my parents’ response was along the lines of “absolutely not!”
Unlike my love for fitness and sports, my love for fashion didn’t come as easily. Growing up, that was more of a love-hate relationship. I battled with my weight during my pre-pubescent years, and there was definitely an AWKWARD, chubby phase in middle school. One boy bullied me incessantly during middle school when it came to my weight. Shopping became almost a chore because trying on clothes sometimes felt awful. There were times items I wanted wouldn’t fit, and I would become pretty upset. I thought if I could lose weight or could look a certain way, all of my perceived problems would go away.
As I grew up, I realized it wasn’t my weight that was the issue—it was the way I felt about my body and myself. I could become what I thought was “ideal”, but if I wasn’t comfortable with my body and myself, I would never be happy. I would always find something wrong with a piece of clothing. Something negative that someone said to me would always affect me.
"As I grew up, I realized it wasn’t my weight that was the issue—it was the way I felt about my body and myself."
All of these experiences brought me to where I am today and definitely shaped the foundation for UrbanFitCo. In the early stages (when we were developing branding/marketing), people would ask who is your target audience or market? I didn’t really want to define the business by that one buyer persona. I thought back on my younger years, and I couldn’t leave that young girl behind that felt like she didn’t belong.
Add in sisterly differences—My sister has pretty much been a size 0 her whole life, where I have always fluctuated. (In my adult life, I’ve been anywhere from a 4 to a 12.) I realize that there are differences amongst women, in body type and style. I wanted to create a business where everyone could shop together, and feel good about themselves no matter what! I think it’s extremely important to empower women and breakdown all of the B.S. that society has continually fed us.
How do you want your audience to feel when they interact with UrbanFitCo?
UrbanFitCo. is a judgment and shame-free zone.
When women make negative comments about the way they look in an item or say they’d never be able to wear an item they have their eye on (for whatever ridiculous reason), I am the first to smack that talk down.
Just today, I had a woman come in and try on a few pairs of leggings (which she looked absolutely great in). She thought she was “too old” for the leggings she wanted. She definitely wasn’t, but it was amazing to see her go out of her comfort zone and buy something she really wanted. I love shopping with women, and being that “cheerleader.”
There are days where I spend hours talking with customers, sometimes about the most random topics. I want to get to know the women that come to the shop. I want women to feel comfortable like it is a place where they can come and hang out.
I want everyone to feel a sense of connection to us, like they really know us and our stories. I don’t want us to be just another business. I want to be connected to them on a deeper level. We try to do this through our blogs. Instead of sharing “10 Things You Should Try” or “Our Favorite Things”, we will share more personal stories about our journey. We want to create a sense of community. I want our audience and customers to feel like we are just another girlfriend cheering them on and supporting them.
In 10 years when you like back on your life and business, what difference do you hope you will have made in the world?
I have a lot of goals for myself and my business, but honestly, I just want to make a positive impact on other people’s lives. I hope I empowered someone to take a leap or try something out of their “comfort zone” and encouraged someone else to love herself a little more and not be so hard on herself.
I hope I stayed true to UrbanFitCo.’s mission and impacted women in a positive way. I want to thoughtfully engage in conversations surrounding body image, self-love, and female empowerment. I hope that my business, as well as myself, will have made a positive impact in all of these areas. I hope I really do encourage women to feel confident, beautiful, and comfortable in what they wear and who they are.
"I hope I really do encourage women to feel confident, beautiful, and comfortable in what they wear and who they are."
What’s one thing you wish you would have known before starting your business?
I think most people expect the answer to this question to be something along the lines of how hard it was really going to be, I wish I had known the answer to certain questions, I wish I knew the mistakes I was going to make so I didn’t make them or I really didn’t know anything about x subject. But honestly, I don’t really have an answer to this question. Starting my own business has been a learning experience, which has truly allowed me to grow as a person. I majored in Business Management with an emphasis in Small Business + Entrepreneurship, but nothing really prepares you for owning your own business. You can “know” everything you think you need to know, but you never really do.
Everyone always asks me if I apply my degree to my business, and if I am being honest, the answer is usually no. My business is always growing and evolving, so I feel that I am always growing and evolving as well. A lot of the time, we are learning as we go, which can be scary at times. The industry that we are in is also constantly evolving and changing.
So if anything, maybe the answer to this question is plans always change, what you think you’re going to do most likely isn’t what you’re actually going to do, you can have a plan, but that plan is probably going to change the minute you make it.
"...plans always change, what you think you’re going to do most likely isn’t what you’re actually going to do, you can have a plan, but that plan is probably going to change the minute you make it."
To be in business, you need to be flexible. You need to constantly evolve. If not, you won’t last very long. If you’re strong in your mission, values, and goals, it isn’t hard to be flexible in your approach when you need to be.
What’s the hardest/best part about running your own business?
The hardest part about running my own business was overcoming fear- the fear of failure/the fear of success. I have a Type A personality and always strive to be close to perfect. I’ve been lucky enough to do well in school and succeed throughout my life.
When I first started my business, I always struggled with this fear of failure, or the “what ifs”. I never wanted to disappoint anyone or put myself out there, just to “fail.” I always put an immense amount of pressure on myself.
My business is an extension of myself, so it really pushes me in my personal development and growth. A lot of it has challenged my mindset, and the thought patterns I have. At times different thought patterns come up that aren’t serving me or my business, and that can be challenging. I’ve worked through fear of failure, thoughts around how much successful people work/work-life balance, and other thought patterns.
On the flip side, there are so many great parts of owning a business. One of them goes hand-in-hand with the hardest part. I love how much owning a business has challenged me and pushed my personal growth and development. I think if I were working a 9-5, I wouldn’t be challenged in my thinking as much as I currently am. I also love the other creatives/business/people I get to collaborate with all of the time and interacting with customers. I love being able to express myself and learn something new. I love the challenge of owning a business and being fulfilled.
Where are all the places people can find you?
412 Beaver Street, Sewickley, PA 15143 https://www.facebook.com/urbanfitco/app/100265896690345/
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Hey there, I'm LeeAnn!
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