If you would have told me two years ago that I would create a ‘brand’ that would be distributed and wholesaled internationally, get picked up by a major Pilates retailer, and make people smile with knowing enthusiasm, I never would have believed you.
In fact, I would have been really scared to try.
It all started with a logo, a blog idea, and one t-shirt. But even before that, it began with a declaration I read in a blog:
“Once you understand that there are problems just waiting to be solved, once you realize that you have all the tools and all the permission you need, then opportunities to contribute abound. No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself”. – Seth Godin
Pick yourself. What?
I’d have to say this idea of picking myself – of creating my own path, changed my thinking and how I see myself in the Pilates world. Beyond teaching my own students, I hadn’t allowed myself to think I could offer more to the Pilates community. But if you’ve ever sat down with a copy of Return to Life, you know that Joe Pilates’ discipline was all about pushing yourself.
I’ve been teaching Pilates for 16 years. Some of those years in the trenches were admittedly not my best work. I spent too much time comparing my teaching skills with others and defending my philosophies.
Now I think I wasted so much time not allowing other facets of my creativity come to light.
It turns out it was the shirt, especially the logo, that made an impact on people. What’s surprising is I wasn’t expecting to build a small apparel brand, but that’s what happened. Ultimately, connecting people who feel as passionate about Pilates I do, is the most satisfying part of Pilates Nerd.
While I write this I am knee deep in online orders, preparing another wholesale order, and getting ready for my first big Pilates conference as an exhibitor. It’s overwhelming not just because of the crazy workload in addition to my teaching, but because there is so much about the apparel business I am still learning!
Believe it or not, I have yet to assert myself and make it widely known that I am, in fact the face behind the brand.
It’s daunting to admit that I created every shirt, every post, and every item. Mainly because it’s scary to fail, scary to be judged, and scary not to have control. (Insert Contrology joke).
I think we were born to create, to move people and to connect with people. The challenge is finding our niche and following through. Part of the bigger picture is this: we get on the mat and apparatus week after week and you never know what you can do until you try…that’s half the fun of it. So, be patient and move through the fear.
“…Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.”
Thanks Mr. Pilates, that’s a quote to live by – body, mind and spirit – for sure!
Raised in upstate NY and now a Southern California local, Karen Ellis is the owner and director of Prana Pilates in Costa Mesa. She began her journey of movement in ballet, earned a BS from Indiana University and received an MFA from the University of California Irvine. After a professional ballet career in Boston concluded with injuries, a passion for healing the body and new career in Pilates was born.
In 2013 Karen created Pilates Nerd®, a company designed to celebrate Pilates through apparel, accessories and shared sentiments. The simple goal of her idea is to generate enthusiasm for the benefits of Pilates and help connect people.