Nicole is an athlete turned entrepreneur with innovation in her blood. Since a young age, Nicole has searched for new and creative ways to do day-to-day things. She recalls a memory from childhood, watching her mother cleaning the floors and thinking, “there has to be a better way to do this that’s more fun.” So, off she went. Nicole hot glued sponges to her sneakers got them sudsy and started skating around the floors to join her mom.
Nicole thrives on running with her ideas and turning them into fruition. This is how the Chestee started. In 2014, Nicole was competing in Wodapalooza. Her event was lifting 145lbs shoulder to overhead. Due to the Miami heat, she found holding the barbell against her chest quite uncomfortable. So, in a moment of utilizing resources, she took her shirt off and stuffed it in her sports bra as a backward cape. This was the “aha” moment that led to the creation of the Chestee.
The Chestee has humble beginnings and recently moved from operating out of Nicole’s two-bedroom condo to a full warehouse. How’d she do it? Nicole says the most important thing to do when building a business is to “listen to your customers. They’ll tell you how to be successful.” The Chestee team is always listening and taking into consideration the feedback and suggestions from its customers. “They know what they want.”
With every endeavor, challenges present themselves. Nicole’s was no exception. There were of course initial challenges of learning all about fabric and manufacturing, but there were other ones too. It’s “interesting to be the first doing something,” says Nicole, who notes that a core group of followers were eager to see her idea come into fruition, but getting a whole bunch of others on board was difficult. She centered herself in providing a solution to her key question, “what are we going to do to provide athletes the protections that they need to allow them to do the training that they want” so they can reach the level of expert they desire?
Because of the challenges, Nicole was able to learn from her mistakes and build a team, and a product, that others rally around. “Everyone on the team cares just as much as I do,” she says, which creates a strong community dedicated to making the Chestee successful. In 2021, Chestee re-visited its mission statement to redefine the company at its core and communicate this to the world.
“We want to solve problems”, says Nicole, and “we do that with our vision statement.”
“More presence. More celebration. More potential. The Chestee is confidence. For all athletes.”
Having a clear vision makes it easy for Nicole and her team to make decisions and move forward together on their journey as a team.
Nicole shares her advice for other women in the industry, and those wanting to start their own business, “meet with anyone who will talk to you.” Nicole urges women to become curious and learn all they can. She urges others to fill Instagram with the bloopers, along with the highlights, because there will be “more hard days than there are easy days.” By showing the world the challenges the door opens up for others to share their struggles too, and that creates a network of support.
Another piece of advice? Get comfortable disappointing people. Nicole highlights that this is key as a business owner. “As you grow into a role, you’ll become more comfortable disappointing people. That means your decisions are being made on behalf of the entire ship, not just one passenger.” Nicole urges other women to trust they’ve made the right decision for them and their path, which is easy to do if you use your intuition to be confident that you “know your why and trust your gut.”
Celebrate Chestee’s 7th anniversary and Women’s History month with an Instagram giveaway!