The COREFIRE Team is consistently blown away by our #fuegofamily. Not only does every woman (and man) come in and work your butts off (especially at 5:30am!), but you all lead such fascinating lives that inspire us every day. We have decided to spotlight YOU on a regular basis. There are so many stories to tell. Today’s post is a spotlight on Melissa Sowa-Letgers. Not only does she kick some A** at our Montclair location, but she has a full time job AND owns her own store, Sweat & Strut. Get prepared to be inspired:
Tell me a little about you & your family?
We have lived in Montclair for 13 years. My husband, Doug, our girls, Naomi and Amelia, ages 11 and 9, and our shih tzu, Mishki.
I’m a competitive athlete, mom of two and fashion-loving, fitness enthusiast. Like my customers, I juggle schedules for work, family and fun. Fitness has always been a big part of my life and it wasn’t that long ago that my workout apparel consisted of tees and sweats. After having my girls, I discovered a whole new world of performance wear that worked for intense workouts and going out on the town. I can sweat in athleisure-wear. I can strut in athleisure-wear. I can feel confident to be the best me I can be in athleisure-wear. Now my customers can too! Sweat & Strut offers athleisure-wear to make you feel good, whether you’re running on the treadmill or running around the town. We carry athleisure for every BODY.
What made you take the plunge to open your store?
We opened in Upper Montclair because for 13 years we’d been walking our dog and our children through the streets of Upper Montclair – our neighborhood. We always loved being able to walk to town from our house, exploring the unique shops and getting to know the fabulous, creative small business owners. In May 2016, we opened Sweat & Strut, bringing my passion for high-quality leggings and athleisure designed for every body and activity to women and girls in our community. Being a part of the Upper Montclair Business District gave me the opportunity to work with friends and neighbors, and give back to the neighborhood I love!
Due to unforeseen circumstances, we were forced to close in August 2017. We needed a new location and were fortunate to find our current location at 124 Walnut Street. It was a rough time and the support from my fellow Small Business Owners offering space, a shoulder, support and love was priceless. Not to mention our customers, new and old, who came to show support when we reopened. We have met so many neighbors on Walnut Street and couldn’t feel more welcome to be part of the community.
How do you balance family and your business?
I still have a full time job as an insurance executive. YES – Insurance. I love to be in the store to help you find the right fit and function as much as I can. But for when I can’t – I’ve put together an amazing team that share my passion for the Sweat & Strut lifestyle. Whether it’s finding the right legging for a WOD or a Salutation, or for going out to SHOW OFF YOUR RESULTS – that’s SWEAT & STRUT!
It‘s difficult balancing family, a full-time job and Sweat & Strut. Things fall through the cracks, and you don’t always feel like you’re doing anything as best you can, but I would probably feel all those same emotions with less to juggle. My family is 100% supportive and that is something I am forever grateful for. My family is my biggest cheerleader and fan.
When we were going through the turmoil of having to move locations, there was a part of me that wanted to just pack it in. One of my girls, said “Mommy, you can’t let anyone or anything put you out of business. No one will remember how great Sweat & Strut was and what you created. No one can take away your dream.” With this motivation, I decided to continue. My other daughter only wears leggings from Sweat & Strut; she is my best model and biggest promoter. My hubby is my best sounding board and shoulder. He gets the brunt of the emotional roller coaster that having a small business creates.
Do you ever carve out “me” time?
Yes! I don’t know what I would do without it. I make time to do the stuff I love – go to the gym, get a facial, hang out with my girlfriends, date nights and mommy/daughter time. It makes me better to do the other stuff.
What advice would you give to other women looking to go into business for themselves?
Follow your dreams! Small business isn’t easy but the support you will receive from fellow small business owners and the community will help you get through. We love to collaborate with other businesses and promote each other. Take baby steps. Before we opened the brick and mortar we did trunk shows at local gyms to see if our idea generated any interest in the community.
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How AWESOME is Melissa? If you haven’t been yet, check out Sweat & Strut and see how incredible it is! Need a little motivation to take your workout gear to the next level? Melissa is offering you a 20% discount on your TOTALpurchase through July 15th! All you have to do is mention how “CRAZY YOU ARE FOR COREFIRE”.