Women in Business Q&A: Kendra Doersam, Founder and President, No Sweat Life

Kendra Doersam is the founder and president of No Sweat Life, an innovative, environmentally conscious brand of fitness products. No Sweat Life promotes a work hard, play hard attitude offering athletes product that consist of of the same level of purity and excellence they strive to achieve in their bodies.

No Sweat Life's first product, No Sweat Sport Wash launched in 2008. No SweatTM [secret agent] sports wash is the only eco-friendly laundry soap specifically formulated to eliminate sweat related stinks and stains. Bio-BlastTM , it's proprietary green technology, targets odor-causing bacteria at the root, leaving fabrics stink and residue free.

No Sweat Life line up also includes yoga mats, towels and headbands all made from recycled materials. Mrs. Doersam is a dedicated yogini and an avid user of effective natural products. She and her family are committed to the practical, active lifestyle that No Sweat Life promotes.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I have always been athletic and being an athlete really permeates every part of your world view: it develops determination and discipline a leader. Leading can be very lonely and isolating, and the ability to rely on a process that has worked before in other areas of your life can be comforting.

In more recent years, my yoga practice has fostered great focus and an appreciation of the interdependency of strength and flexibility. Mindfulness or focus is very 'au courrant' for a reason: training your brain is far more powerful than training any other muscle in your body. Yogis, dancers and athletes who need to develop flexibility understand that to do so you must be very strong, engaging the opposite side of the area you want to stretch. Great leaders are equally flexible and adaptive in their tactics because they possess great personal strength or conviction.

How has your previous employment experience aided your entrepreneurial journey?
My vocation or training was as a journalist. As with all 'cub' reporters, I spent the first several years of my career chasing down sources to file my daily reports for local news channels. The tenacity and resourcefulness I honed in those years has proven to be very handy in the stalking of key buyers and other necessary contacts who might otherwise prefer not to be found.

Just before I launched No Sweat, I had a brief foray as a retail stockbroker. In finance, you learn quickly that returns or results are really the only thing that matter. I still focus very closely on our numbers and get a thrill from every new sale. I guess keeping score is really the only way you can successfully compete.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your time as an entrepreneur?
I think a daily blog might be a better format to really answer that question! Being an entrepreneur is reveling in the daily thrill of victory and despair from set-backs, so you better have a strong stomach. I've never met a really successful entrepreneur who doesn't take business personally.
Seeing something you create on shelves being taken in by people you don't know is a pretty big rush. On the flip side, the isolation and uncertainty of not knowing what you don't know can be a big challenge in running your own business.

What advice can you offer to women who want to be entrepreneurs?
Set financial goals or benchmarks and stick to them. You need to know which of the investments you are making are generating the best return. If something is not generating a return, you have a hobby, not a business.

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
Hire the best advisors, employees , etc. that you can afford. Don't cheap out! I made the mistake early on of trying to do everything on a shoestring. The truth is, you end up paying a bigger price for not bringing in "the experts".

Secondly, playing in your sweet spot is a combination of hard work and intuition. You need to know when to keep pushing water up hill and when to move on.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Luckily, the nature of what I do means that it is beneficial for me to literally 'practice' what I preach. I practice yoga, play tennis, or run pretty much every day. I am surrounded by a tribe of people who ascribe to the same lifestyle values I do and who constantly inspire and energize me.

More personally, I have three young kids and a husband with a very busy career. Life is wonderful but chaotic, and like most women, I wear many hats. The busier I've become, the more productive. As an employer, I admire working moms - they are masters of multi-tasking and productivity!

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace, or female entrepreneurs in general?
This is a great follow-up to the work/life balance! Whether culturally or innately, woman are generally expected to master multi-tasking and maintain balance in a way that we don't always demand of men. At the same time, the financial rewards for specialization and mastery have increased. It can be difficult to train your brain to switch from one way of operating- focus and compartmentalization in the workplace, flexibility and adaptability elsewhere- from moment to moment.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I am naturally an extrovert and really get a charge off the energy of others. I surround myself with high achieving Type A personalities for three reasons: they inspire me, I don't have time for formal mentorship, and I like to learn from those I'm around. I have one girlfriend, Anne Hepfer, who runs a successful interior design company and is also raising four kids. Unbeknownst to her, she has been a great mentor in this chapter of my life. Just seeing that what you aspire is being done by others is hugely motivating.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I tend to admire leaders who embody a combination of skills that I am still working on- namely, great listening skills, resolve and conviction. Another friend, Heather Reier, owns Cake Beauty, another very successful consumer packaged goods brand. Her business is several years ahead of mine and I am inspired by her unassuming leadership style, creativity and poise.

What do you want No Sweat to accomplish in the next year?
We are making a big move from independent and online distribution into the mass market. I would like to see No Sweat on grocery shelves nationwide in 2015.