BOSS WOMEN: KIRA & AMBER

Boss Women: Kira Rasmussen and Amber Leonti - Co-Owners of Kaia Fit Sunrise, Sacramento, Carmichael

Boss Women: Kira Rasmussen and Amber Leonti - Co-Owners of Kaia Fit Sunrise, Sacramento, Carmichael

1. What is your entrepreneurial story? More specifically, how did you become a #bosswoman?

Kira: My business is building women up from the inside out, through fitness, nutrition, team building, positivity, creating strong bodies and powerful minds… or in fewer words… Kaia FIT

I left my first Kaia class sore, and sweaty, and smiling ear-to-ear because I'd found exactly what I was looking for. I loved everything about it, and with every session I could feel myself becoming more capable. While my body grew strong, my mind grew even stronger.

I gained confidence I never knew I could have, and it felt GOOD.

Then one day I looked around and I was surrounded by the most amazing group of women who were miraculously balancing work, life, families, and doing it all while lifting each other up. It’s addicting, this feeling of women empowering other women, and together doing things we never thought possible... and it all started with burpees, squats and jump ropes! 

I didn’t think to myself, I want to be a boss woman, or a business owner. It was my friend Amber, who I met through Kaia, who had the idea. I thought she was joking, honestly, and I said “well, if you want a partner, let me know.” So when she called me a week or so later to see if I meant it, I was surprised at first but then the only thing I thought was YEAH, it makes sense, it sounds fun! Let’s open a Kaia FIT! And that’s kind of how it happened, or in my mind anyway, we should read her answer to see if it aligns.  

We opened our location in Rancho Cordova in 2013 after weeks of laying floors, painting walls and hanging up pull up bars. We met amazing women, and tried to inspire them to be strong through fitness and knowledge. And then two years later we’ve acquired two additional locations in Sacramento and Carmichael, and I guess are officially #bosswomen!

Amber: This is a funny one, as I still struggle to see myself as a #bosswoman.  When Kaia came into my life prior to being an owner, I was at a crossroads.  I was always active in my life, for me, it is when I am happiest.  While I was at a job I loved, I was feeling uninspired to keep active, my routine was stale and sitting at a desk all day and the long hours were taking a toll on motivation.

When I started Kaia, I felt like the fire was lit in me again. Not only physically, but emotionally.

I connected with smart, motivated and hilarious women that I looked forward to spending my early mornings with. When the opportunity came to open my own location, I knew I didn’t want to do it alone, I needed a teammate. Someone who had similar passions, but a different set of skills that would complement mine.

I without hesitation thought of Kira, my fellow Kaia sister. I approached her, we made charts, had brutally honest talks over wine, ran numbers, high-fived, consulted our husbands, then we were off and running. 

2. What was the turning point that put you on the work-path you're on today?

Kira: I found Kaia FIT as a member in January, 2011. I was looking for something to encourage me to be active again; my professional life had zapped any spare time or motivation to be physically fit. I’d just left my 12-hour-a-day, crazy fun and all-consuming communications job, and took a leap of faith with a new path to include more freedom and, on the fore front of my mind were intentions of being active.

I think I even said out loud, “I’ll take this job, sure, but only if it means I will have time to get back into shape. Back to feeling like myself again.” I had a lot of things going right in my life, but I wasn’t happy with myself and could feel that I needed a positive change.

I look back on this pivotal moment often actually, it’s crazy how clear I see it still, and am so thankful that I listened to my instincts. 

Amber: This may be the silliest thing I type today, but here it goes. The summer before Kira and I opened Sunrise, her along with several other Kaia girlfriends went to a yoga festival. In between down dogs, child’s pose and teasing Kira about loving the slack line, I bought a lovely thin silver bracelet…I love a good bracelet…that said “find your true north”, I still wear it today.

I knew I had my true north at home with my husband and all our animals, but the more I continued down my professional path, the less it felt like where I should really be going. 

I wanted to spend more time outside, I wanted to have more authentic interactions with people and I wanted to be a part of women becoming more fit and confident.

Every day I looked at that bracelet, and every day I was at Kaia I felt that pull to take the next step. 

3. For someone who wants to change their work situation but doesn't know where to start; what would you tell them?

Kira: I would say, talk about it! Talk to your friends and family about what you don’t like about your current situation, why you don’t like it, and what you think would could do that would bring you happiness.

If you’re going to get into business for yourself, talking about your ideas is one thing you need to get comfortable with. And saying them out loud will help you determine if they are crazy, or help you focus and morph them into something that’s obtainable.

Amber: Trust yourself and the people who believe in you. When I decided to take this step with Kaia, I knew I wanted to go into it with a partner who I never doubted would be on my side and coming from a good place.  This is not always easy. Even when you feel you are in the right place, things get tense, stressful beyond words and the first person you want to take that out on are the people who are supporting you the most.

Trust them and yourself, you are one smart cookie! The process can be slow and takes patience. I am still working on fully making the leap, but I know I am headed in the right direction.

4. What would you say was your most difficult and proudest boss woman moment?

Kira: The most beautiful part of Kaia is that it’s for ALL women, and I think sometimes this message, and the truth behind it, can be difficult to convey. My heart is 100% in this, and I genuinely believe that every woman needs this, or something like this.

The most difficult thing I face is the opposing thoughts and feelings in another woman’s mind. When a woman believes so strongly that she can’t do something, or isn’t deserving of something, I want so badly to change her mind. It can take time, or strategy, or persistence, or all of the above, and the challenge is to embrace her for who she is and try to help her find a path to strength.

My proudest moment is fresh on my mind, actually, after a 3-day coaches certification at Kaia FIT Corporate in Carson City. We recently hired several new coaches, and were re-certifying several as well, for all 3 locations.

Watching them embrace their roles as leaders, motivational women and mentors just simply made my heart swell.

If we want to bring positive change to the women in our communities, we can’t do it alone, we need a team! And I honestly believe our team is incredible.

Amber: My most difficult moments come when I feel I have let people down. In my personal and professional life, I always want people to know they can count on me, that my word means something. When I fall short of expectations, I take it really to heart and have been known to obsess about how I can make it right.

Proudest moment, this is easy. Community is a big deal to me, huge in fact, that is one of the aspects I love about the Sacramento area and Kaia.

When I get up at 4am to coach or 5am to mark a trail for a Saturday morning run and then I get to witness women working together to succeed, encouraging each other when they struggle, having fun and just striving to get the most out of their life, that is when my heart just wants to explode with pride. I love that I get to be a small part of their happy. 

I never get tired of seeing someone climb the rope for the first time, jump on the big box, connect with their inner athlete or being at a community fun run and hearing a stranger shout “you are doing great Kaia girl!” or a random wave or high-five from someone from another Kaia location on the bike trail. Kaia brings out the #bosswoman in everyone, which is one of the things I love about it.

5. How do you handle the nuts & bolts of business i.e. paperwork, money, taxes, etc ... Do you hire someone or do you handle it yourself?

Kira: A little of both. My business partner Amber and I split some of the nuts & bolts duties, and we also have employees, an accountant, and a lawyer to help us when needed. I think that’s a necessity of running a business; knowing you’re not always the right woman for every job.

Know your strengths, and more importantly your weaknesses. If you don’t understand something, or you’re too busy, don’t have the time to give it the attention it deserves, hire someone.

Accountants, and lawyers, and insurance agents, are all worth it. Quickbooks Online has been my favorite business tool though; it’s a huge time saver. It links our bank accounts, memorizes familiar transactions, and allows our accountant to have access as well. Reports are quick and easy to generate. 

Amber: Initially Kira and I did everything ourselves, and I mean everything.  However, when we started to tire of cleaning the gyms at 11pm on a Sunday, and as we have grown, we knew we needed more help to keep growing and improving we have hired several folks. 

We now have a large team of amazing coaches, an office manager, tax team and designers and so on. Kira and I are still very, very involved in the bulk of the work.    

6. Favorite business apps or sites you're using?

Kira: Facebook, as expected as that is, has been our #1 most useful app. Client check-ins get us referrals, promoted posts and events get us visibility, and the private group function allows our members to chat behind the scenes. 

Amber: Boring but oh so important, but Shift Planning has changed my life. When we went from 6 employees to 27, I knew my schedule on word was no longer cutting it. It has saved me and our coaches ton of time and simplified the process. I also love A Beautiful Mess for photos on Instagram. 

7. If you could change one business decision from your entrepreneurial journey, what would it be?

Kira: I think I would have gotten more involved in the local community from the start, or sought out boots on the ground to help to do that. It’s easy to strategize marketing online through social media, or to hire someone to help your website, or with SEO, but the most powerful referrals in our industry have been word of mouth.

Kaia is a community of women, but we’re within another larger community of each city, and I think I didn’t understand how powerful that could be.

Amber: We should have hired an office manager long before we did. Not only from a work load perspective, but having another smart capable person with great ideas working with you is a win-win. 

8. Hiring a graphic designer and/or photographer for branding can be daunting for some. What advice would you give them?

Kira: Get referrals, and sit down for talks! Marketing and branding is a visual thing, like it or not, and you should make sure your image is a true reflection of your business... Don’t rush into a decision, but take your time to make sure it’s done well.

Amber: Connect with the designer/photographer personally.  If they don’t get you personally, they more than likely won’t get your creative vision for your business.  When Kira and I first sat down with Steph, I knew I liked her from past interactions, but I really wanted Kira to have that spark and connection as well.  We wanted to trust she understood us and that we could also have fun with her in the process.  Lastly, communicate when things go off the rails, normally there is a fix and with the creative process things come up, you have to adjust.  

9. How do you deal with days you're feeling uninspired?

Kira: This is when I’m happy I have a business partner, and am not in this alone. When I’m feeling uninspired I will complete tasks because I know Amber is doing hers, or I want to make her proud, or I know she’s expecting me to hold up my end, that accountability helps a lot.

Sometimes I say to my husband “Uuuggh, I wish I didn’t have to get up at 3:30 am tomorrow to coach…” because that’s how I’m feeling, and he’ll say to me “Yes you do. You always feel so good afterwards, you love it.” And he’s right.

When I’m feeling uninspired all I have to do is listen to my own advice and just show up.

Don’t think about it, roll out of bed or leave work on time, and just get to the gym full of women who are all trying to make their world within this world, a better place.    

Amber: I am learning to pull back and give myself some space from the days when I am feeling uninspired.

For me, this comes when I am overly tired, and haven’t been taking enough time totally separate work from home life. I am working really hard to have time to love my job, and love it hard, put everything I am into it. However, equally as important I want to love my pups, kitties and husband and our life outside of my job just as much.

Because even though this #bosswomen loves my work life a ton, I love my home life even more. I think the #probosswomen call this balance.  

10. What is the best business advice or money tip you ever came across?

Kira: Place trust in people you’ve hired, to do the job you’ve hired them to do. If you want to build something bigger than yourself, and stay sane while doing it, you’re going to have to trust your team. You should have high standards, but don’t expect them to do things the exact way that you would have done them. It’s impossible to hire a team of YOU clones, so embrace the different strengths of your team and find the best way to utilize them.

Amber: Don’t be too proud to ask for advice and help from professionals or your wicked smart friends. Building a team of people who we trust and who believe in us has been the most powerful tool in building our business. Getting advice on real estate contracts, legal, or financial matters from good solid people can never be bad for your business. Every time I gush to our real estate guru Kim about how much her expertise has helped us, she always says “Good people, help other good people”. I try and remember this saying.  I want to do right by people, who will in turn do right by us. 

If you're as inspired by these two #bosswomen as I am and you're in the Sacramento, CA area and want to know more about Kaia Fit go to:  
http://www.kaiafitsunrise.com/home   |  PHOTOS + VIDEO BY WILD WITHIN STUDIO