POSTED BY: ERIKA
It’s not too often that Keeley and I encounter other 20/21 year old girls who have started and are running their own business! But…this all changed about a month ago when I had the opportunity of getting to know someone who was also a 21 year girl running a company! How cool is that?! The other interesting fact, is that she lives about 3 hours north of us in the beautiful city of Seattle!
This second I met her I knew that she would make a perfect Wild Wednesday candidate! I can’t wait to share her story and product called Joey Bra with all of you.
1) Name, age major:
2) Keeley and I are asked this question all the time, so I am sure you are very used to it as well!
Please explain what your product is and where the inspiration for JoeyBra came from!
In fall of 2011, I was in an entrepreneurship class at the UW where we had to think of an idea and then decide whether it was a good idea or not. I met Kyle during that class, and we immediately clicked.
We were thinking through ideas, when Kyle said that we should make a pocket on a bra. At first, I thought he was crazy. Well, that lasted about 10 seconds until I realized the immense market that could see a pocketed bra as the essential accessory.
From there, we made a sample out of a sock and a bra to test out the idea. We conducted surveys and wrote multiple business plans. Based on the reception of the initial idea, we decided to go for it.
With just an initial investment of $1000 from each of us, we obtained a patent-pending status, ordered our first shipment, and developed the basic foundations to our company.
Mariah/Kyle’s product…The JoeyBra! A bra designed with pockets on the side to discretely hold credit cards, phones and keys! What a great idea!
3) When did you know that your initial idea was catching on?
We launched on April 25th, but about the 27th we were on the news and in Forbes, Geekwire, Gizmodo, MacWorld, and literally hundreds of other news sources.
4) Are people surprised when they find out that your business partner is a guy? How did you choose your biz partner?
Very. We chose each other as we had incredibly compatible skills and a drive to actually make it happen.
Mariah and her business partner Kyle!
5) Keeley and I both decided that going to school and running our business was too much to handle! I think it’s amazing that you have managed to stay in school and successfully launch your company! Can you explain how you manage it all?
Last Spring, I was essentially running three businesses (JoeyBra, Mariah Gentry Photography, and CourageCakes – which was part of a class), competing in the business plan competition, and a full course load including honors courses. Since I was in high school, I have always run side businesses, so I guess that I knew what to expect and that dropping out of school was not an option. Instead, I made school work for me. I would make every class project about my company so that I was doing research essentially for two purposes.
6) What does a day in the life of Mariah look like?
On the busiest days in Spring quarter:
Wake up at 6:45am
Leave for class by 7:15am
Get to school and go to class 8:15-10:30
Work on JoeyBra / homework 10:30-11:30
Work on JoeyBra with Kyle 12:30-2:30
Meet up with Kyle 3:30pm…
Work on Business Plan competition 3:30-6:30
Work on homework while working on businesses 6:30-9:30
Work on Manufacturing 9:30pm-3:00am while doing hw & editing wedding photos
Leave Kyle’s 3:30 or 4am
Drive back to my house and get there at 4:40am
Sleep until 6:45am
On a normal day:
Wake up at 6:45
Do the exact same as above,
only I leave Kyle’s at 8pm
7) What about running your business is the most exciting? What’s the hardest aspect?
How quickly you can make progress if you work as hard as you can. Also, Kyle and I try to have as much fun as we can doing our company, so it might sound like work, but we try to make it not feel like work. We do it because we love it.
The hardest is figuring out how to maximize 24 hour days & still ensuring that you can make it all fun while working.
8) Since Wild Squirrel began, Keeley and I have had so many awesome opportunities presented to us, and I know you have too!
What is the best thing that has happened since starting Joey Bra? What are you most proud of about your company?
We received 3rd out of 101 teams at the UW Business Plan competition – which were both MBA and Undergraduate teams.
We were both thrilled by the amount of press that we got right off the bat.
Then there are several new opportunities that I cannot yet disclose, but let’s just say starting in November, there are some really exciting things!
Co-founders Mariah and Kyle accepting a $5,000 check for JoeyBra!
8) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
A beach in Cancun. I am guessing that in 5 years, Kyle and I will have either created and sold our brand or created and maintained. We are very likely to start more companies after JoeyBra as we both have notebooks filled with ideas.
9) Do you hope to inspire other young people to follow their dreams and pursue their passions?!
YOU BET! First off, I never think of myself as young. That is a constraint that can keep you thinking rather than doing.
10) Is there a celebrity that you would LOVE to have wear your bra?!
Hmm, cannot disclose! We shall see if our dreams come true.
11) Do you have any free time?! If so, how do you/would you like to spend it? Other hobbies, other interests?
I don’t really have free-time, yet. If I did, I would go travel to somewhere with sand and surf. Otherwise, in my day to day life, I usually try to go to the mountains or run around Alki.
Starting and building businesses is my greatest “hobby and passion.”
Mariah thank you for being this week’s Wild Wednesday feature. It is comforting to know that someone else my age can completely relate to the beauty and the struggles of running a company!
It’s amazing what you are Kyle have already accomplished in such a short amount of time. As fellow “college age” entrepreneurs, Keeley and I wish you all the success and hope to see you on beach someday ;-)
That’s all for now!