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I recently made my first purchase from Fashletics and am totally in love.
As I browsed the site and loaded up my shopping cart, I realized it wasn't just a business I was browsing. For Sarah Wilson, Fashletics' founder, creativity is an expression of the passion she has for the healthy life she lives. I admire that immensely – so much that I begged her to do a Q&A with me to run on my personal inspiration/training blog Strong is Beautiful (where I TRULY ramble but update infrequently). It's just so good that I'm running it here as well (without the SIB intro – for more on my personal training stuff, click on over). In particular, I was struck by the discussion of self-talk; something AndreAnna has addressed poignantly lately as well. If you're a CrossFit Journal subscriber, this piece with Greg Amundson addresses the topic too.
Part of my journey to learn and live the best I possibly can is to connect with folks who are doing great things and find inspiration in their dedication (Another example: my profile of Lindsey Smith). One of the things I love most about the Paleo/Primal community is the amazing willingness to share personal journeys, revelations, research and inspiration through blogs, podcasts, and facebook groups.
Sarah Wilson, the designer behind the Fashletics brand, is a CrossFit coach and nationally ranked duathlete who has built an inspiring set of products and an even more inspiring website – her Fashlete of the Month feature is a true reminder of the many amazing manifestations of Strength and Beauty. I wore her “Live, Love, Lift” socks for my most recent basement deadlift workout and was as excited as when my sister & I dressed up as princesses when we were little.
Sarah was kind enough to answer my questions, and even add a little promo to the mix. Scroll to the bottom to check out the Words of Inspiration promo.
Sarah, what is your history with jewelry design? Did your passion for art evolve with your passion for athletics, or did the two come together later?
There are two things that I have loved for as long as I can remember: art and athletics. I started working with metal when I was in high school and it was pretty much love at first hammer strike. My interest in sports was equal but completely separate… that is until I applied for my first design job…
At 16 I interviewed for a part-time job as a jeweler’s assistant. I told my potential employer I’d love to work for him but I wouldn’t be able to start until after the Cross-Country State Qualifying race. And if I qualified, I wouldn’t start work until after the state meet. Obviously in retrospect I realize that it’s not too smart to reveal during an interview that getting the job is not your top priority. Luckily, my future boss was a former college athlete so he understood where I was coming from.
As it turned out I made it to States and began working as a metalsmith after the Cross-Country season ended. My dedication to my sport may have actually helped me get the job in this case. My boss followed my athletic pursuits and encouraged me as much in sports as he did in jewelry design. He even challenged me once to a 2 mile race while at a jewelry convention in Las Vegas and he had a pull up bar in his studio. (He beat me at pull ups, I beat him at running). This is probably one the only time up until the creation of Fashletics that these two interests collided in such a way. The experience taught me how to balance my life and I realized at a young age that I could pursue both athletics and design at the same time.
Changing my diet has also had a hugely positive impact on my life that goes way beyond physical training. I am more alert, more focused, and full of
energy which helps maintain quality and intensity in my business and athletic pursuits.”
How are you able to maintain the quality of your art along with the intensity of your fitness program? Does one ever suffer to save the other, or are you able to keep both parts of your life in high gear at all times?
For the most part I think that being involved in athletics at any level automatically makes you better at everything else that you are already doing. Aside from having more energy as a result of being healthier, there is the increased confidence that comes from getting stronger and faster. As my athletic ability has improved, my work capacity in all other areas of my life has improved as well. Changing my diet has also had a hugely positive impact on my life that goes way beyond physical training. I am more alert, more focused, and full of energy which helps maintain quality and intensity in my business and athletic pursuits.
That being said…. it’s a lot hard work and sometimes there is definitely the need to shift the focus from one to the other. There is an ebb and flow to both the athletic world and the retail world which makes it possible to be successful at both without firing on all cylinders 100% of the time. For example, I was able to focus more on training last summer as I was gearing up for the Duathlon World Championships because the summer season is a relatively slow time of year for jewelry sales. The triathlon/duathlon season wrapped up for me in late September just as I was amping up jewelry production for the holidays. The most important thing (especially for all the overachievers out there) is to realize that it’s okay to not be 100% invested in everything 100% of the time. I’m not going to beat myself up in August because sales are down and I’m not going to let myself go crazy in December because I haven’t raced in a month. I remind myself all the time that these are choices that I made and I made them for good reason.
It is similar to CrossFit training in that I am not specializing in any single thing in my life. No one is. We all have to write the programming for our own lives. There are aspects of running a business that I am not particularly good at or fond of but I do them anyway because I care about creating something that is well rounded and of high quality and the same goes for my training.
Don’t play a victim in your own life. Take control of your actions and take responsibility for your choices.”
How do you balance your business with your life? Advice for women who want to blend the two as you have?
Desire. Hard work. Sacrifice. First and foremost you have to be very clear about what you want out of this life and what is important to you. The more you want something the more willing you will be to work at it. Don’t make excuses. It drives me crazy when people tell me they want something and then stand there and list all of the reasons why they can’t do it. Don’t play a victim in your own life. Take control of your actions and take responsibility for your choices.
Once you’ve got the soul searching under way go out and assemble your army. Any success in this lifetime means absolutely nothing if you have no one to share it with. Surround yourself with people who support and inspire you. Allow these people to lend a hand when you need it and return the favor at any chance you get.
In an effort to sever ties with my disapproving inner voice I began working on eliminating negative thoughts and replacing them with something positive.”
Your Fashlete of the Month feature has some incredible examples of mental, physical, and emotional strength. What person – whether artist, athlete, friend or family member – inspires you most? What are the most powerful examples of strength to you, whether within the CrossFit community or otherwise?
The most incredible example of mental, physical, and emotional strength in my life is the way my family acts as a unit. I am one of four children. I am constantly in awe of my siblings and parents not just because of their individual accomplishments (of which there are many) but because of the way they handle themselves and treat each other during the tough times. “Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.” I couldn’t have said it better myself (hence the quote). My family knows how to hold it together. (And yes, they ALL do CrossFit.)
You have “pep talk” jewelry. What's your personal “pep talk?”
In terms of athletics I had to start by telling my inner voice to stop being so mean to me. Seriously! I think I’m a pretty patient, positive and encouraging person… to everyone except myself. I realized that if my inner voice were an actual person I would definitely not want to be friends with her. How terrible is that?
In an effort to sever ties with my disapproving inner voice I began working on eliminating negative thoughts and replacing them with something positive. In the midst of this mental make-over I created an entire line of jewelry inspired by the idea of “positive self talk” (which will be added to the website very soon). When my brain can’t muster up a positive thought I turn the one have one hanging from my neck, hammered into a piece of metal. The Pep Talk Jewelry Line is intended to give you those words of encouragement when you just can’t seem to dig them up from within yourself. I’ve been there many times!
(My favorite Pep Talk Jewelry quote at the moment: Patience. I know what I will become.)
What achievements stand out to you from your 2010? What are your goals & commitments for going forward?
Making it to the Duathon World Championships was a huge highlight for me. Qualifying for that race was probably one of the most ambitious goals I have ever set for myself so experiencing it coming into fruition was absolutely unforgettable. I worked really freaking hard and I loved every second of it… from day one of CrossFit Endurance training to crossing the finish line in Scotland to a celebratory pub crawl that ended with a late night waffle covered in bacon, brie, and maple syrup. Trust me, it was perfection.
I also started Fashletics in 2010 which is more to me than just a business achievement. Fashletics truly is the epitome of who I am and what I’m all about. It is about good design and quality craftsmanship. It is about paying tribute to athletes at any level and in every discipline. It is about helping people celebrate their strengths and inspiring them to attack their weaknesses. This is the world I want to live in and this is what I want to share with others.
Going forward is going to be more of the same… only better, faster, and stronger.
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