Since the inception of Women Empowered, I have come across many women from all walks of life and a considerable number of female entrepreneurs.
There's a thriving female entrepreneurial community here in Los Angeles and many have inspirational stories that are the driving force behind their businesses. One woman in particular who has recently inspired me is Dina Kimmel, Founder and CEO of We Rock the Spectrum. Dina's story was so powerful and filled with layers of empowerment, that I felt it was my duty to share her story with the rest of the world.
What started out as an in-home kids' gym to help her now 7 year old son Gabriel turned into a nationwide franchise with a foundation attached called My Brother Rocks the Spectrum benefitting autistic children whose families cannot afford to send them to WRTS.
The conversation of women not being able to do it all was immediately quieted in my head as I was listening to Dina's story. She is literally a woman who does it all, and all with a warm heart and smile. Through her personal need to help her son, she wanted to do the same for other children who battle with autism. We Rock the Spectrum (WRTS) was founded in 2010 and became a franchise within four years. In as little as 10 months, WRTS now has 20 locations and keeps growing. There was nothing like it and the word spread like wildfire, in the best possible way. WRTS is an all-inclusive kids' gym that provides children with a fun and motivational environment to help them in areas of strength, movement, sensory processing, communication and much more. The unique equipment assists all children in their neurological growth and development.
What I found so inspiring about Dina's story was not only how and why she started WRTS, but how she incorporated so many other aspects to foster the personal growth of her employees, franchisees, and the parents involved. In addition to empowering children, she is also empowering women to lead their own lives through becoming a franchisee. About 85 percent of the franchisees are women. WRTS is not your typical cookie cutter franchise -- Dina allows her franchisees to have a voice and empowers them by encouraging them to develop new ideas and programming. She also plays the role of mentor for most of the franchising women. Not only will Dina have a business plan ready for you but she will even go as far as to help you find the right space and location. The next empowering layer is Dina has also implemented a Young Adult Mentoring Program within WRTS where she employs the young adults that go through the program -- this is when my mind was blown. Lastly, she provides a space for parents to connect, network, and support each other through the WRTS mom's club.
Dina's entrepreneurial story could not have been more inspirational; she is the epitome of an empowered woman. Her passion radiated and was contagious. When asked what three rockin' tips she had for those aspiring to be in her shoes, Dina responded just as I felt she would: full of love. Here are Dina's empowering entrepreneurial (and heartfelt) tips:
Family is always first.
Dina started WRTS specifically for that reason -- her family. Her support system is her family and she prides herself in spending as much time as she possibly can with her loved ones. In fact, I arrived 10 minutes early for our interview and I was greeted by her daughter, Sophia. So if you're looking to start a new venture, make sure you have the support you need but most importantly, your family. Running a business is no easy task, and having a supportive family will make those inescapable obstacles easier to overcome.
Don't go beyond your means, financially.
There's the saying: you have to spend money to make money. However, you have to be smart about it as well. Dina advises to create a budget and stick to it when launching a new business. Be realistic with your goals. Prior to starting WRTS, Dina owned a clothing boutique which she sold to fund the first WRTS gym. When seeking to fund your new venture, make sure you're fiscally conservative. In other words, don't go from business to bankrupt.
Make sure it's something you love.
Even though this seems like a given; oftentimes people get into business for all the wrong reasons or they lose sight as to why they started in the first place, one in which may be money driven. The money will come but the passion will not. You must passionate about your new venture. The sweat, blood, and tears that you will end up putting in, and long hours won't seem as difficult if you come from a place of passion and not one of obligation. The love for what you do will drive you, and will sustain you and your business. Plain and simple: do what you love. It was very clear that Dina is in love with what she does.
I ended the interview by asking Dina what her five year plan was for WRTS. Her empowering response was: My ONE year plan is to go international. And with Dina's determination and heart, I have no doubt that she will.