Running your own business is no easy feat. It takes a healthy dose of passion, discipline, and commitment. Ever wondered what a day in the life of a business owner and founder is like? We’re here to give you a glimpse! In honor of International Women’s Day (March 8), we will feature a female entrepreneur every week for the entire month — giving you an exclusive, first-hand look into 24 hours of their day.
This week, we’re getting up close and personal with entrepreneur and NatGeo explorer Mikayla Wujec, who co-founded alder apparel with her friend Naomi Blackman. Their mission is to make sustainable outdoor wear that is comfortable and flattering for women of all sizes.
Read on to see how Mikayla spends her day running her clothing line in Toronto, Canada. Then scroll down for a brief Q&A to get to know her better and get inspired!
7:30 A.M. Wake up, snuggle with my dog, check email, check our sales, check social media. (I’m trying to break this habit but no luck yet!) Three times a week, I’ll head to the gym for a morning swim or workout. I find getting some movement in during the morning clears my head for the day ahead.
8 A.M. Rain, shine, or snow (we’re a Canadian-bred company, so lots of snow recently), I take my dog for a morning walk, listen to the latest The Daily and GirlBoss podcast episodes, and enjoy a slice of the outdoors.
9 A.M. Have breakfast. I check my to-do list for the day, and prioritize the top three items that need to get done. I review my schedule and upcoming meetings of the day. I check-in with co-founder Naomi Blackman, which is the first of many today.
10 A.M. I find this the best time for any “writing” work. I’ll often do email, respond to our community on social media, and try to bang out long-form writing!
11 A.M. Keep writing!
12 P.M. Take out my dog for a short walk.
1 P.M. – 5:00 P.M. Meet Naomi Blackman and work together on building alder! At this stage, we both wear a truly astounding number of hats. For example, this week we are applying for a 75,000 grant to increase our exports to the USA (wish us luck!), coordinating the bulk production of our open-air pants, reviewing the prototypes of our next two products (wahoo!), securing bank financing to help with inventory orders and securing insurance for our company. Our day-to-day activities can be very different, but we always have a shared goal of building our company.
6 P.M. I love to cook, so I take time to make a good dinner, and catch up with my husband about our days. It’s important to me to totally switch my mind off work, otherwise I find I just keep circling to-do’s in my mind.
7 P.M. If I didn’t make it to the gym in the morning, I’ll head out now for a swim.
8 P.M. Depending on the day, I’lll either catch up with friends at an event, or stay in and crush Netflix (watching Sex Education right now and it is SO good!), or finish off some of they day’s tasks. Because we work with partners in Taiwan, we’ll also sometimes answer emails now as well.
9 P.M. Unwind from the day. I make a to-do list for tomorrow, and check off the tasks I’ve completed for the day.
10 P.M. Time for bed.
Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of what her day is like, get more inspiration in our exclusive Q&A with Mikayla below!
INDIEGOGO: How did you become an entrepreneur?
MIKAYLA: Both Naomi and I didn’t start calling ourselves and entrepreneurs until pretty recently. We both felt like the title applied to dudes in tech in San Francisco creating the next Facebook, not two young women from Canada trying to transform the outdoor industry. What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? Basically you are a person with an idea, that fills a void and takes on greater than normal financial risks to operate a business to fill said void. Check, check, check — that’s us…and maybe you! Neither of us had an explicit goal to become entrepreneurs, but we were both interested in building something, have a high-risk tolerance, and value creativity and growth in our work. We are loving the opportunities and challenges that come with running our own business. We were truly driven to do so because we believe in our mission, and personally experienced the void of functional, flattering, outdoor apparel for women.
IGG: What makes your business unique?
MIKAYLA: alder exists to transform outdoor recreation for women by making it comfortable, accessible, diverse, and centered around fun, not performance. We believe that outdoor recreation = happiness and that ALL women belong outside, no matter your performance level, your athleticism, your size, ability, skin color, or anything else.
We’re breaking away from the archetype of the hyper-intense athlete, and celebrating play, fun and all kinds of recreation because getting outside is good for your mind and body! So many of the existing outdoor brands celebrate performance. Think: ads showing scaling a mountain, or hiking a glacier! While it is amazing to see, the average person likely isn’t ice climbing on the weekend.
We want to create products for women who love to get outdoors which could mean walking your dog, or hiking with friends or hitting up the farmer’s market. Shockingly, the average outdoor brand only makes products up to size 16! The average US woman is size 16-18. Something does not add up. We create products up to size 30 (4X) because all women deserve cute, functional fashionable clothes, and specifically for getting outside. We also make our products with the leading sustainable fabrics and fibers, and work with ethical and transparent companies.
IGG: What’s your best advice for women entrepreneurs?
MIKAYLA: Naomi and I recently did a podcast, and we landed on these three nuggets of semi-wisdom. First, you can’t drive a parked car. Second, worry once. And third, just ask.
You can’t drive a parked car = just start something. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that it’s not the right time, or that your product or service isn’t ready yet. Sometimes, our infatuation with perfection hinders progress and the best thing to do is just get going!
“Worry once” are words we are trying to live by right now, as we are going through our first round of bulk production for our products. As in life, there are a truly staggering number of things that can go wrong, but what is the use in repeatedly worrying about the what-ifs? Plan for obvious risks and deal with the unknowns as they come, but try to limit your energy spent on repeatedly worrying about things out of your control.
Just ask is something my mom always encouraged me to do. Want better payment terms with one of your vendors? Just ask. What something done differently by your employees? Just ask. Of course, be respectful and be appropriate, but also be bold. The worst thing someone can do is say no, and then you are where you already are.
IGG: Any tools you recommend to anyone starting their own business?
MIKAYLA: We would absolutely recommend harnessing classic services like Google Drive, Slack and, Dropbox. These tools have been absolutely invaluable to us in growing alder and organizing our business! Hootsuite is also a helpful social media planning device. Podcasts are such a fantastic way to access insights from some of the most amazing business minds out there. We love Girlboss and How I Built This. Now onto books! My mom is a retired librarian, so I’ve always looked to books for help. The Making of a Manager, What to do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo is amazing for anyone thinking of growing their team. The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety by Alan Watts is not a business book per se, but will go a long way with the old “worry once” nugget.
IGG: What’s your favorite Indiegogo campaign?
MIKAYLA: Our favorite Indiegogo campaign is an oldie but a good one. Fellow Canadian entrepreneur Joanna Griffiths ran a campaign for Knixwear, the OG leakproof underwear. It is such an amazing product, and they truly filled a void in the intimate apparel space. So awesome that they got their start here!