We recently connected with Deborah North and have shared our conversation below.
Deborah , looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. What was it like going from idea to execution? Can you share some of the backstory and some of the major steps or milestones?
My youngest daughter decided to try wrestling. During this journey, we discovered that there were no wrestling shoes for girls. We are 50 years past Title IX, and girls still did not have their own shoes and gear- they were still making the size conversion from boys to girls. All that was available at the time were black and white shoes. I decided to fill this gap.
The premise behind my company is saying Yes! to scary things. At the time, there weren’t as many female wrestlers, so my daughter was the only girl in the room. I was inspired by her bravery and saying Yes! to something scary. When Covid hit, we weren’t sure if there would be sports, mainly high-contact sports like wrestling. I formed the company in 2019, and covid hit in 2020. Because the premise behind the company is saying yes to scary things, I went ahead and launched in late 2020.
I have been an executive recruiter for 25 years. I have never sold a product. I took online classes to learn the ins and outs of sourcing products, negotiating with foreign suppliers, and website development. To learn and grow, I had to surround myself with experts in these areas.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
My name is Deb North.
I am a graduate of Baker University with a bachelor’s in business. After working as an executive recruiter for over 20 years, I decided to start my own firm.
I launched True North Consulting in 2011. In 2019, I discovered that there were no wrestling shoes for girls, so I started Yes! Athletics. Yes! officially launched in October 2020.
The name of the company was selected because my daughter inspired me with her bravery. She walked into a wrestling room and was the only girl. She said Yes! to something very intimidating. She was eight years old at the time.
OUR MISSION: Empower young females to try sports they might not have previously considered by offering traditionally male sports gear in feminine styles and colors. Yes! Athletics helps females feel welcome and recognized. Offering shoes male athletes traditionally wear in styles and colors appealing to female athletes, Yes! Athletics supports girls in sports.
We believe in empowering girls to say YES! to scary and new things!
We were the first to market with shoes made specifically for girls and women in wrestling. We are different because girls and women don’t have to do a size conversion – the shoes already come in these sizes. We solved the problem of girls and women not having shoes and gear for themselves.
Can you share a story from your journey that illustrates your resilience?
I call this business my “covid baby.” The company was formed in November 2019 but didn’t launch until October 2020. I agonized over launching, but once I realized that the premise of my company was saying Yes! to scary things, I decided to go through with it.
I am a widowed mom of 3 girls, juggling the responsibilities of my “day job” to “keep the lights on” (My day job is truenorthkc.com). My roles as a parent and worker of two jobs, and the intersection of such roles are the blueprint for my resilience. I strive to glean my unique experience into a business that benefits young women, so that mine and my daughter’s stories can foster a meaningful impact.
How did you put together the initial capital you needed to start your business?
The timing for my launching this business was perfect. I had just sold a house and used that equity to launch. Since then, I have been bootstrapping through a home equity line of credit and credit cards. I did recently win a pitch contest and won $15,000. I am in the process of applying for an SBA loan also. One of my goals for 2023 is to secure an opportunity with a retailer. This will create cash flow. I am also open to entertaining opportunities with strategic investors.
- Website: www.yesathleticsusa.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yesathleticsusa/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YesAthleticsUSA
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/yes-athletics/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/YesAthletics
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2nBY4f36ArsGjVtrzhyqaw
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