Over the past year I have had the privilege to meet and partner with so many female entrepreneurs that have really changed the game in the fitness, health, and wellness industry here in the Greater Seattle Area. Each woman I have met has inspired me to continue to grow the SweatNET Seattle community, and I cannot be more honored to stand by their side as we continue to create a gender equal world, and successfully own and run businesses.
Below are some of the incredible women in this industry sharing their story! Enjoy!
Jade Taberes – Owner of the Sweat Studios in Fremont
Jade wanted to own her own studio for 10 years and had spent so much time dreaming and planning how she would be able to do it. She is now living her dream as she opened her studio doors in January 2020. Prior to her owning The Sweat Studios, she had a mobile pilates training business where she would travel to clients for private sessions. She found that many people did not respect her and thought of her teaching as a “nice little project” or hobby… when in reality she was working SO hard and crazy hours. She hasn’t seen any male trainers get treated that way, although she could be wrong. One piece of advice she would give to any woman is don’t be afraid to ask for help! She has found that many women (herself included) feel that they have to do everything on their own. Sometimes asking for help and delegating tasks is key for making your business thrive. To learn more about Jade and The Sweat Studios you can visit her website or Instagram.
Allison Axdorf – Owner and Founder of Upbeats Fitness in Fremont
Allison is the founder and owner of Upbeats fitness studio in Fremont. Two years ago she made the decision to pursue her dream of opening Upbeats and it recently opened in November of 2019. She opened the studio because she couldn’t find a place where they offered all of the group fitness classes she loved. She also wanted to create a space that focuses on inputs rather than outputs. In Allison’s opinion, an input fitness mindset focuses on enjoying an activity while doing it effectively and safely (i.e. how it makes us feel rather than focusing on how we think it will make us look). If we focus on the right inputs, the outputs, improved health and body image, will naturally follow. Having an input mindset has really shaped the culture at her studio!
She’s had to face adversity in Commercial Real Estate and Construction because they tend to be male-dominated fields. She found that she would be pushed around until she said and showed otherwise. She’s taken a power pose or two from the studio restroom. If you ever need a buddy for a solid power pose, She’s your gal!
One piece of advice she would give other women so that we can continue to create a gender equal world is to stop judging each other and focus on how we can support one another. There is a lot of pressure on us as women to balance a career and family and to look damn good doing it. When we judge other women by how they live up to these standards, it gives permission for the rest of the world to do the same. To learn more about Allison and Upbeats Fitness you can visit her website or Instagram.
Abby Dillinger – Lee: Owner of Shakti Bodywork Bellevue
Abby decided to open Shakti in Fall 2019 when her son Aiden started kindergarten so that she could be home more with him during this phase of his life. She had previously worked in clinic management for a decade and found that 60 hour work weeks and constant travel just didn’t work for her or her family anymore.
As a female business owner many people assume that her husband bankrolls her business or handles all the hard stuff. While her husband Jamieson is super supportive and was actually the one who gave her the push she needed to leave her previous job, she does all the heavy lifting for Shakti.
Some advice she has for other women is to go after what you want. You won’t feel like you are ready or that you deserve to pursue your dreams, but that is imposter syndrome talking. Take a leap, apply for something new. Men do it all the time! Most women don’t try for things because they feel they aren’t qualified but you can learn as you do something. You gain experience each and every day. To learn more about Abby and Shakti Bodywork of Bellevue you can visit her website and Instagram.
Danielle Ullman – Owner of StarCycle West Seattle
Danielle is the owner of StarCycle West Seattle! She decided to open a spin studio in West Seattle back in January 2018. She has been athletic her entire life and very community-focused since owning another small business for several years that is also built around a strong community. As she was rehabilitating following a shoulder surgery, she decided to try indoor spinning and was hooked immediately. She could not believe how she felt after each spin class, physically and mentally. She wanted to bring a studio to West Seattle that was built for everybody and every body with an amazing sense of community. StarCycle West Seattle opened in late fall of 2019 and has been quite a wild ride and incredible journey!
As a female business owner, facing adversity is part of the journey. One of the biggest lessons she has learned is to be confident and trust your gut instinct. There have been decisions she has made that did not initially feel good on the inside. She questioned herself and the decisions she was making, but ultimately, when she stuck to her gut instinct the decision never steered her wrong. Learning to trust yourself and stand behind your choices was one of the most valuable lessons she learned.
She also learned the value of confronting failure which is something she continues to work through on a daily basis. Failure is a real possibility but she doesn’t view it as a negative, rather it is a reality and consideration when you dare to dream big. One thing she has learned over the years of owning a business is that the road to success will not be smooth and freshly paved; there will be losses, mistakes, and lessons along the way but keeping an eye on the target will help you navigate that bumpy road.
The biggest piece of advice she would offer is to trust. Trust in yourself. Trust the process and allow the process to take the time it needs. Decisions do not need to be made overnight; allow your emotions to settle so the path ahead can be seen with clear vision. To learn more about Danielle and StarCycle West Seattle you can visit her website or Instagram.
Shiva Hippley – Owner of Pure Barre Queen Anne and Capitol Hill
Shiva is the owner of Pure Barre Seattle (Queen Anne & Capitol Hill), Started February 1, 2019, she wanted to create a fitness environment that was welcoming to everyone and felt like a community. Shiva has faced adversity many times where people don’t take her seriously or because of her youthful look, it’s a double whammy she says. She’s had clients, vendors or partners be surprised to hear that she’s the owner. Many times vendors have talked to her in a certain way thinking she’s just a student not realizing she’s actually the owner. They always have a very surprised look when she explains who she is which she says can be a lot of fun to watch :)
One piece of advice she gives women who want to create a more gender equal world is to keep doing what you’re doing and stop doubting yourself. She’s actually tried to be more conscious of why she’s worried about something or hesitant to say something, and whether a man in her situation would feel the same. If the answer is no, then she tries to push past that insecurity and do it. She says, “as women, we so often feel like we want to be helpful and are really bad at saying no or doing something simply because we want to. I’ve tried really hard to reprogram myself to fight against that. It’s not easy but ask for that raise, ask for that time off, say no to things that don’t bring you joy. Live your life the way you want to and those around you can either accept it or aren’t worth your time and energy anyways.” To learn more about Shiva and Pure Barre you can visit her website and Instagram.
Ginny Pietila – Owner of Mercer Island Athletic Club
Ginny is the owner of MI Athletic Club on Mercer Island. She opened MIAC in February of 2015 and just celebrated its 5 year Anniversary. After owning another Fitness Facility on Mercer Island for 21 years with a business partner, it became clear to her that her heart and soul were yearning for a different way of doing business. She trusted her instincts and took the leap to go it on her own and has never looked back!
The one piece of advice she would give to a women is to trust your gut. Ginny says, “your instinct, that true gut feeling when you know you are RIGHT is a powerful voice. I think women have been taught, encouraged or praised for turning that voice off or ignoring it. Equally important is to trust your gut when you know something is WRONG or off. Trust yourself, trust your instinct, be loud (but don’t be a bully). Make your daughter proud of who you are.” To learn more about Ginny and Mercer Island Athletic club you can visit their website and Instagram.
Lexi Taylor – Owner of Kalon Spa in Bellevue
Lexi opened Kalon Spa in February of 2018. Her daughter had just started preschool and she had suddenly found herself with much more time on my hands. Her and her boyfriend/business partner knew they wanted to start a spa and that there was a big need for lymphatic therapy on the Eastside, and they decided to go for it! Lexi says, “It is so exciting to see how many people benefit from our lymphatic treatments and massage therapy. We get to help people recover from injuries and surgery; reduce soreness after workouts, clear sinus problems, help digestive issues, smooth cellulite and reduce bloating all while clearing toxins from the body. We both have a passion for helping people and it has been so amazing to share our knowledge with our clients.”
The biggest adversity she has faced as a female business owner, is the balance of business and family life. Although she has an amazing partner who does more than his fair share, somedays she still feels the need to take care of everything at home (dinner, laundry, dishes, organize pick up and drop off, pack lunches etc.) plus all of her work duties even if she’s gone from 6am to 8 pm somedays. She has always felt like home life is her responsibility and even though she has a partner who is more than willing to help out (and does!), she still struggles with guilt when she needs the help. She feels that society is opening up about that more and more, but we still lean on the idea that a woman takes care of the household even if she also works outside of the home.
Her piece of advice would be the same advise she keeps telling myself, don’t be ashamed to ask for help and don’t take on ALL of the responsibility just because you feel obligated to. Expecting and asking for respect and a fair workload when balancing work and home life is a step in the right direction to create a more gender equal world. To learn more about Lexi and Kalon Spa you can visit her website and Instagram.
Hannah Hutson – Owner of Belltown Strength & Conditioning and Founder of Get Up with Hannah
Hannah is the owner Belltown Strength & Conditioning. She purchased the gym from the previous owner 3.5 years ago and re-branded it to make it her own. She’s always had a passion for movement and after many back injuries she decided to learn how to move correctly through kettlebell training. This new body awareness really taught her how important it is to move correctly to avoid injuries and live a healthy life. From that point on, she wanted to help others move better and break down the barriers for females and lifting heavy weights.
When she first bought and took over the business, she felt it was all on her to create a thriving business and that she would look weak as a female if she couldn’t succeed on her own. Over the years she has learned that creating a team that is good at other aspects of the business has been the key to being successful. We all have specific strengths and weaknesses and it’s important to own that and have individuals that bring in strengths that you may not have.
One piece of advice she would give to a female to create a more gender equal world is follow your passion and do what you love and makes you happy. If you are truly passionate about what you do, don’t let anything or anyone stop you from becoming the best version of yourself! We will all be criticized at some point in our lives and we have to remember why we started and to not let the haters affect our drive. To learn more about Hannah and Belltown Strength and Conditioning you can visit her website or Instagram.
Dee – Founder and Owner of City Sweats
When Dee started her first business in 2013 there was a lack of support for women in business. It was very male dominated, and she had to figure out her style of leadership & what that meant. Her advice for a gender equal world is to NEVER see anything as a man’s opportunity, or a woman’s opportunity. Life is full of opportunities for anyone, anywhere. Embrace every moment and opportunity to grow regardless of where you are or where it’s coming from. When someone tells you “Women don’t really do that…” tell them “Well now they do.”
Brandi Cohen – Founder and Owner of Pineapple Life in Snoqualmie
After leaving a heavily male-dominated career with JP Morgan Chase in 2009, I vowed to create a place of wellness where everyone no matter gender, experience, age, ability, personal beliefs, are welcome to enter our sanctuary and be free to just be themselves. No judgement. No expectations. Just a community of equal collaboration, mutual respect, and a ton of love!
Liz – Co-Founder of The Plant Life
I am one of the co-founders of Plant Life Meals, a local 100% plant-based meal delivery subscription service. To be honest, this business has been in development over the course of my life. Growing up in a small town in California and in a Mexican household, food was the center of everything and brought our whole family together — and it still does today. My mother is an amazing cook and I was always blown away by the love she shared through her food. No matter what she made, it was the best dish you had ever had. So food has always been a staple in my life.
Recently, through my work at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, food played a very different role. I worked closely with patients recently diagnosed with colon cancer and it broke my heart to meet them and their loved ones, hear their stories, and know I couldn’t do anything to help their circumstances. These cancers are typically preventable with screening and a healthy lifestyle, so it angered me that they had to go through this awful experience. The more patients I met, the more motivated I felt to do something to help my community through a healthy lifestyle — and food is a huge contributor to health.
In our personal lives, my partner and I kind of became the go-to plant-based resources for our friends and family. After writing a short recipe ebook, “My Kind of Vegan”, people loved the recipes but we kept getting feedback from people — “I wish you could just cook this food and drop it off at my house!” The more we heard this, it really sparked the idea of providing that service! Surprisingly, there aren’t many plant-based food options in our community, so we felt (and heard) this was a much needed service.
My business and life partner David and I conceptualized the idea for Plant Life Meals while on a trip in Mexico in June 2019 and officially launched the business in October 2019.
The most difficult part about being a woman entrepreneur has been getting out of my own way because I hold myself back more than anything else.
Before starting Plant Life Meals, I had been in public health research my whole career and it felt very safe and comfortable for me, especially since I was doing quite well. But then I was feeling this tug and pull like never before — I wanted to do more with my life and to help others in what I considered to be more impactful, yet I was holding myself back from doing something different. Even the mere thought of going outside of research was very intimidating to me because I didn’t know anything other than that life. And I honestly don’t think it was because I didn’t think I was capable — in every job or position I’ve been in, I had countless examples of not knowing how to do something and not only learning it quickly, but usually knocking it out of the park! I think as women we’re not typically encouraged to put ourselves first but I believe if we really want to make an impact, we have to be our most authentic selves and share our gifts with the world, and that requires us not to allow anything to get in our way, including ourselves. I honestly wouldn’t have started PLM without the help and support of my partner, David. He not only encouraged me to explore this next venture, but often pointed out how I was holding myself back, so without him and his diligence, I don’t think Plant Life Meals would be here today.
I think a second challenge for me has been allowing myself to change and grow. I think growing up in the research world, you’re encouraged (if not obligated) to stay on the straight and narrow — become an expert in one area until you’re blue in the face. However, I began to wonder if there was more to life than cancer prevention from the research perspective, so a huge contributor of my struggle of allowing myself to consider another route for my life was the fear of all that change that would come with it.
Leaving my job at the Fred Hutch was tough — although PLM had been growing and I made the calculated decision to pivot and go full-time on the business, the transition was not an easy one. The business itself really gave me life and was quite motivating for me, but I was also quite sad because I was still holding onto what was my old life. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I kept all those feelings to myself, while everyone around me was so excited for me and watching PLM grow, so I think they assumed everything internally for me was going well. It took some time, but I’ve now fully embraced this new chapter in my life and loving every minute of it because it’s something I’ve created.
One piece of advice I’d given women is to get out of your own way. If you’re one to overthink and not execute, that will be your greatest obstacle, I promise you that. The moment you get out of your own and be open to taking that next step, whatever it is, you’ll start noticing things happen for you. And I’m not going to pretend that I’m completely immune now — I still have moments of doubt but I’m much more equipped to becoming aware of it much faster than I used to. The world needs all the amazing ideas and gifts that women can and have contributed. It’s a shame if we keep those to ourselves! To learn more about Liz and The Plant Life Meals you can check out their website and Instagram.
Laura Woodruff – Founder of Nourished Nutrition Consulting
Laura is the owner and founder of Nourished Nutrition Consulting. She helps people heal their bodies and become a healthier, happier version of themselves! She’s faced adversity because it’s harder to attract male clientele because of the nature of her business. Some men don’t want to talk to a a woman about their lack of motivation in the health department! Laura says, “Equality should not be based on gender. Don’t ever back down from a challenge just be the only woman in a sea of men! Don’t be intimidated, be empowered :)”. To learn more about Laura and Nourished Nutrition Consulting you can check her out on Instagram.
Meghan Tavelli – Owner of FIT4MOM West Seattle
Meghan owns FIT4MOM | West Seattle. She has owned the West Seattle location for almost two years, and have been in the franchise and community for almost seven years. Our goal with FIT4MOM | West Seattle is to bring community, empowerment and strength to the moms and families in our community. We not only give them awesome fitness classes but ways to reclaim themselves after having their children and how to bring health and happiness into their lives.
Meghan’s one piece of advice to another woman would be to go for it. If you are truly passionate about something do it. Work hard, get to know the people in your community, ask for help from others when you need, build a kickass team and follow your dreams. To learn more about Meghan and FIT4MOM – West Seattle you can check out their website and Instagram.
Patty Brown – Owner of Barre 3 – Bellevue
I have owned barre3 Bellevue since August 2019. The two previous owners were pioneers in bringing barre to the Eastside 10 years ago. I knew I wanted to own a barre3 studio one day after I became an instructor three years ago. The core values of barre3 align with my own values and I love that our team contributes to healthy lifestyles of our beautiful and strong clients. I’ve been fortunate to be part of a company that is primarily made up of amazing women who support and encourage each other to achieve our goals. My advice to creating a more gender equal world is to use your voice. Ask for what you want, need and deserve. Go after it! For more information on Patty and barre3 Bellevue you can check out her website and Instagram.
Stephanie Sherman – Founder and Owner of The Break
I started The Break to make more-fun modern accessories for active women – to build better products and a brand to inspire women and girls to move, adventure and play. We recently launched our first line of active silicone rings in a fun edgy design and fresh colors, with a more feminine, modern, design-forward approach. Out of the gate, we’ve seen strong online sales and are now carried in local studios and boutiques. It has been rewarding to see our products out there in action, hear positive feedback from customers, and join an inspiring community of business owners. While we are still early in our journey, I would encourage other women who may be considering starting a business to go for it! Create the products or services you wish you had, embrace the challenges, figure stuff out, and get to experience the adventure of building a business. To learn more about Stephanie and The Break you can visit their website and Instagram.
Wade Brill – Founder of Wade Brill Coaching
I am a Mindfulness Coach, Speaker and Podcaster. I started my business, Wade Brill Coaching, 7 years ago because I am passionate about supporting people and corporations managing stress and overwhelm so that they can feel more present, productive and engaged in their life. My life experiences of getting diagnosed with cancer at the age of 21 while simultaneously losing my mother to her own battle of cancer, inspired me to realize how short and precious life is. This wake-up call inspired me to prioritize self-care and make sure I am living a life I love! That’s why I feel so passionate about helping other people feel empowered by life instead of a victim.
My advice to you for creating a more gender equal world is to remember: You are powerful. Your voice matters. Your dreams matter. You are a gift to this world and the world has your back. Find your people who are going to help hold you high! Be both a giver and receiver! Being compassionate with yourself makes you a better leader. To learn more about Wade you can visit her website and Instagram.