As CEO of KickHouse, Jessica is introducing a modern kickboxing franchise to a neighborhood near you. She leads the company franchise development strategy and brand expansion efforts with a goal of having 200 locations open by the middle of 2022.
Prior to founding KickHouse, Jessica was Chief Marketing Officer at Club Pilates helping to grow the concept from 225 locations to over 615 locations in the US, Canada and in Master Franchise countries. As the leader of the marketing function, Jessica was simultaneously the largest promoter and protector of the rapidly expanding brand.
Jessica has been an athlete her whole life, playing Division I soccer at Loyola University in Maryland and running two marathons in “retirement”. Her weekly workout routine consists of running, yoga, kickboxing and listening to podcasts while walking with her golden retriever.
She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and leaders find and thrive in their passion.
Where did the idea for Kickhouse come from?
The idea for KickHouse came from looking at the boutique fitness space and realizing that there were no modern and cool kickboxing concepts out there. The existing boxing and kickboxing studios are gritty, intense and male-dominated. I knew there was an opportunity to take a fresh, clean and female-focused approach to the workout. The KickHouse name and marks are clean, simple and easy to remember. The brand has gotten a lot of early love from members and franchise owners alike!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
As a CEO of a growing franchise concept, every day is different! I try to find comfort and consistency amidst the daily chaos to ensure the productivity is there. One of the ways I try to stay productive is to take intentional time away from my email. A quick walk around the block does wonders to reset the mind and helps me come back to emails and projects with more focus than before.
How do you bring ideas to life?
My best ideas come to me in silence. So when I need to brainstorm, I sit or walk in silence and let my mind sort through the challenge I’m working on. Then I jot down what was formulating in my mind, even if it’s incomplete. Sometimes I work with other individuals to get ideas across the finish line. When I needed a logo for KickHouse, I sketched out what I wanted on paper and worked with a designer to bring it to life.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The health and fitness landscape is evolving to include more holistic wellness practices like energy work, sound healing and meditation. Those modalities are being embraced and brought into the mainstream which is going to result in more balanced individuals. I hope we keep going down that path and really take ownership of preventative health so we can move away from prescribed treatments.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I have difficulty focusing on one single thing so my mind is frequently jumping between thoughts and projects. In many industries or roles, that might be seen as a bad habit but as an entrepreneur, I use the jumping to my advantage! I allow myself to move between priorities frequently, depending on what’s top of mind at the moment. While this might seem chaotic to others, this approach fits best with my mind and allows me to get into a flow state across multiple projects at a time.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I spent a lot of time when I was younger trying to fit into conventions like book learning. I would feel like a failure when I didn’t fit the convention. To this day, I’m very bad at reading books. While other CEO’s are touting their count of books read in a year, I’m podcasting while walking outside.
So my advice is to be good with being you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to you and put all of that comparison energy into being your own best student. Figure out your own best processes. Figure out how your brain works best so you can maximize your output.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
As an entrepreneur trying to launch a new fitness concept, there is no such thing as work life balance! My work is very dominant in terms of hours, energy and attention. In these early phases, it’s not realistic to have balance so I aim for presence. If I can at least be present in my non-work hours, they will be higher quality, undistracted hours.\
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I consistently connect my daily activities to my annual goals. If an activity isn’t going to get me closer to my annual goals, I will push it off. Alternatively, if there is a task that’s directly connected to my goals, I will prioritize it, even if it is a project I’m dreading! Entrepreneurs have so many tasks that tug at time, it’s important to have standards around projects and priorities.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I started KickHouse leaning very heavily into collaboration, more out of necessity than some entrepreneurial strategy! Wherever I needed help, I raised my hand. This has helped us move quickly because so many people were chipping in to get KickHouse off the ground. The work was not all on my shoulders.
Now that we’re launched, I still look to collaborate and identify partners who want to help. Especially when I see something on my to-do list that isn’t within my super-powers, I look to put that work with someone who is great at that type of project. Collaboration has helped us grow and will help us get to the next level.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’m trying to push KickHouse to a break-neck trajectory so my greatest fails are connected to timelines. I always push for the tightest timelines possible and experience failure whenever I don’t hit those timelines. But in start-up mode, I believe you take those fails knowing that there will be other timeline wins at which point, you’re moving faster than your competitors. Speed of execution is critical in order to capitalize on momentum.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’ve been in the fitness space since 2012 so most of my ideas are somehow connected to health and wellness. One idea I’ve been thinking of is how would I save the big box gyms like Gold’s Gym, 24hr Fitness, LA Fitness, etc. The big boxes were created 50 years ago to be a one stop shop for all things health and wellness. Like I mentioned earlier, the things we’re doing today for total wellness are different, but those boxes haven’t evolved. There is an opportunity to have an evolved box that brings together the total wellness approaches of today and acts as today’s one stop shop for health.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently purchased a weighted blanket for about $50. It has helped me get to sleep faster and has drastically improved my sleep overall. Sleep is so critical to mental and physical performance! I need to sleep a solid 8hrs per night in order to feel my best and think my best.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I run my day based on my Google calendar. Of course, I have scheduled meetings but I will schedule time for focus projects or even schedule time for breathe breaks in my day. If it’s on my calendar, it gets done!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I first read Thinking Body, Dancing Mind by Chungliang Al Huang as a high school athlete trying to optimize the mental side of my game. I have revisited it as a professional, looking to bring the lessons of my athletic career into my professional career. So much of the entrepreneurial game is mental and this book is the greatest tool to fine tune the mental side of the business.
What is your favorite quote?
In Rocky, Slyvester Stallone says, “Life’s not about how hard of a hit you can give… it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” Anyone who is pursuing a big goal is going to have setbacks. That is the nature of pushing your limits. Looking back at my career, the pivotal moments happened when I decided to keep moving forward… when I decided the comeback would be greater than the setback. If your career has taken a hit recently, if the pandemic has turned your life upside down, read this quote every morning and repeat as necessary throughout the day!
- Be your own best student. Really dig into how you work best and implement those best practices into your day. Don’t worry about convention or what the best selling book of the moment says. What is best for you?
- Being an entrepreneur is difficult! There are going to be fails. There are going to be setbacks. And there are going to be people who say you are crazy! Find good partners so you can collaborate and keep each other sane through your start-up journey!
- In a start-up, there are hundreds of tasks that pull at your time. Be clear with what you’re best at and what will drive the greatest results in line with your business goals. If you’re not great at the task, delegate it to someone else.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.