INTERVIEW: CARY WILLIAMS
For our readers who don’t know, give us a little rundown of what you do.
I do a few things! Let’s see, I am the founder of Too Pretty brand which is a brand and movement empowering girls and women. I am working on the brand daily. Pretty much every waking hour!
The mantra of the brand is that you are “never too pretty to do anything!”. I will explain more about that later. I also own a boxing club in Santa Monica called The Stables where I serve up ass-kicking boxing workouts! I train my fistic family 6 days per week for a few hours per day.
How and when did you first become interested in boxing?
I grew up a bit scrappy as an only child raised by my father in a tough neighborhood. I have memories of my dad on his knees holding up pillows for me to punch! But this did not peak my interest in boxing. Hell, I didn’t really know what the sport was except for what I saw on the television when my dad watched it. My interest in boxing came much later and it actually became interested in me.
Did you have any previous professional experience working in a boxing studio before deciding to open your own?
I did not have any experience in boxing, fitness or business before opening my first club. The short story is this. I met a guy in high school who was a professional boxer. We started dating and then when I graduated from college (with an Environmental Science degree) I decided I didn’t want a government job and wanted to be my own boss. I thought about what I could create. Since my boyfriend was getting ready to retire from boxing, I thought I could open a boxing gym and he could be my trainer. Perfect! I wrote a business plan, pitched to the bank and landed an SBA loan! All the while people closest to me saying, “This is crazy. You’ll never get a loan. What do you know about the gym industry or boxing.” Fuel my fire, bitches!!! A short book could be written on just the experience of opening my first club.
What were your biggest insecurities in the beginning of your career? How did you overcome them?
I am a big risk taker and thrive on the unknown! As for my beginnings as a boxing club owner, the only insecurity I had was that I would not get respect as a woman in a male dominated sport and business. So here I am, a woman owning a boxing gym who has never been a boxer. My marketing and PR skills were so stellar, the business was booming within the first year. We got so busy I had to start assisting with the coaching. That was what really pushed me to the edge. How could I tell anyone how to box if I had never done it myself? It was time for me to fight! So, boxing found me. Once I gained that ring experience and honed my craft, that big insecurity was no more.
Can you think back to a particular situation or decision you made in the beginning that you wish you could go back and handle differently?
The first thing that comes to mind is the decision of creating a franchise company. I had this grand idea to franchise my boxing club concept and so I opened a second gym which I used to create my operations manual. Once I created the Ops Manual I researched how to put together the UFOC documents and how to register to sell franchises in CA. I successfully accomplished all of this and was registered to sell franchises in CA and NY. This is a costly endeavor and even though I did most of the work myself, franchise attorney fees are expensive. The timing of my growth strategy was not good. I sold the first franchise and had two large area development agreements ready to be signed. THE BUBBLE BURST! Housing market tanked and took everyone along for the ride. I did learn a lot, but I lost a lot. Time and money that could have been spent elsewhere.
Your new campaign, #TooPrettyMovement, is based off comments you receive about being “too pretty” to be a boxer. Tell us a little about what it’s like being in a field with such a high male to female ratio.
Well growing up as a tomboy, I never looked at myself much differently than the boys except that if we got into a wrestling match I might get pinned. Boxing changed that for me in some ways. I started to feel like I had to constantly prove myself. Even though my teammates (stablemates) were all supportive, there was always this unspoken idea that I couldn’t keep up with the boys. As strong as I already was, it made me even stronger. But it made me come to a realization as an adult…. we, as women, are still looked at as inferior. This put me on a clear path and Too Pretty was created! I felt like I shouldn’t be looked at as “incapable” if my nails were painted and I had a feminine appearance. I am a woman, damn it!! The #TooPrettyMovement started and now girls and women from around the globe are posting their own #NeverTooPretty pictures on Instagram.
Does anything scare you? If so, what do you do to overcome that?
I started to dig deep within myself to find out what really scared me because I am not one to be scared of anything. Strangely, I feel like I am sometimes scared to succeed in a big way. Crazy, right! I know that once I succeed and grow this brand and movement to where it needs to be, my life will change and I will work even more than I do now. This becomes bit scarier now that I am working on finding a true work/life balance. Overcoming this fear? I dig even deeper… and realize that I love change and in actuality I may work a little less than I do now! I can create whatever life I want, I am in control!
What is your least favorite aspect of running your own businesses? How do you get yourself to push through when it comes time to tackle that?
Anything involving monotony is challenging for me and attention to detail. Yikes! I will say the one great skill I obtained from college was to stick my nose to the task and push through it no matter how “unexciting” it may be. I tell myself that once I get through the details there are more new and exciting things to be created next!
Katie Dean, of Katie Dean Jewelry, said something very interesting when discussing running one’s own business. She said, “You find out what you’re made of.”. Can you tell us about a time you surprised yourself in finding out what you were made of?
There have been many! Here is one of those times. The first club I opened I decided I had to have separate locker rooms and shower facilities. I was fully unaware of the red tape I would need to go through to get this done and for city inspectors to pass for proper building codes. It was a 4 month journey that I thought would take two months. It was the only time I felt like scrapping the whole idea.
What is one specific resource you can’t live without when running your business? It can be as practical as a certain budgeting program, or as personal as a yoga mat…
Sadly, it is my phone! Before I became so dependent on my phone, it was a pen and notepad. I had to constantly keep track of my ideas and reminders. I so wish it was a yoga mat!!
What does a typical work day look like for you – morning to night?
Get up around 5am, make coffee and oatmeal, train my clients from 6am to 9am, back home to eat breakfast, work on Too Pretty (social media), more coffee and then workout. After workout, back home to work on Too Pretty (fulfill orders, website stuff) until it is time to take Sasha, my dog, to the dog park, back home, work on Too Pretty (creating new designs), dinner and then back to Too Pretty (R&D and making connections for potential partnerships or press) until bed around 11pm.
It’s not very often that leaders reveal the un-glamorous side of making goals a reality. In other words, the tasks that no one Instagrams about (sorry, Insta!). Could you touch on some of the not-so-pretty tasks that you have to do everyday for your businesses?
Haha! Plenty of unglamorous tasks to do daily! The backend of social media is one of them. I was attempting to focus more on Too Pretty and not myself as a brand, but was told by several smart folks in the industry that I must continue to grow my personal brand. So, that means I have to keep up on two profiles for each social media platform. Yikes! Before I can post fabulous photos with clever text, I must first see what’s trending. The work continues. After getting those posts up, it is time to engage with everyone who is responding to the posts. Another daily task is sending out items to customers and brand ambassadors. I do not have a staff that helps me with shipping, so I sit at my laptop, input addresses, print mailing labels and postage, package everything and ship. In between these less than glamorous tasks I need to take care of our incontinent cat. She needs a diaper change and cleaning about 4 to 5 times a day. WooWee! That is a whole other story.
Do you have any rituals for getting yourself in boss mode on days you might feel less-than-inspired?
There are a few things that get me refocused and it depends on the mood or time of day. No rhyme or reason. As for music, Coldplay motivates me and puts me into a creative state of mind. Being outside puts my stressful mind at ease and makes everything seem possible. All I have to do is look up at the trees and sky and I am in the right place. A lot of times I get really success driven when I have the chance to sit down with someone who inspires me. Someone who is on the same page or a page ahead of me really brings me back into my focus and motivates me. We all need motivation and it comes in different forms at different times.
L.A. LADY CULTURE.
Favorite area of L.A.? I love Santa Monica, and not just because I live there. It is not as busy as other parts of LA and it is closer to the water. I love that it is nearly 10 degrees cooler than everywhere else!
Favorite eatery in L.A.? Right now I am really digging Mendocino Farms. I like to keep things simple! Everything is delicious there and for some reason makes me feel like I am up North on the coast.
Menu item we must order there? I really like the Chicken MBT sandwich
Favorite happy hour? I don’t really drink a lot. I know! No fun!
Favorite weekend activities in the city? I like to grab a couple of electric bikes with my guy and cruise down to Manhattan Beach along the ocean.
Audio of choice when sitting in traffic? I love me some Country!
Place or thing you want to do most in L.A., but haven’t yet? Hike through the Santa Monica Mountains
Biggest L.A. guilty pleasure? Sidecar Doughnuts. It is right next to Mendocino Farms. How convenient! Of course their doughnuts are amazing but their caramel latte with almond milk is super fab!