Once upon a time, there was a 28-year-old lesbian computer programmer who ran a marathon. It changed her life. She wanted to spread that joy to women across the land, particularly women like her who were not the industry standard for athletic.
That’s why Lori Shannon’s See Jane Run celebrates “the broad-shouldered, the knock-kneed, pigeon-toed, the small-breasted, the wide-hipped” and all shapes and sizes in between. More than celebrating those women, Shannon sells running gear that fits them.
Meet Lori Shannon, owner of See Jane Run.
What do you do and why?
I sell inspiration by way of running shoes, apparel and races. When I was 28, I ran my first marathon and it changed my life. I never believed I could do something like that. I decided I wanted all women, no matter their shape, size or age, to know that same feeling, so I started See Jane Run as a women’s running store that also inspires and trains women to run races. We have three stores, an online store and four races each year.
What did you do before you started your company?
I am a computer scientist so I was working for EDS, a very large IT consulting firm. It was a world of old white men from Texas in the 90s. I didn’t exactly fit in very well.
What’s the single most important piece of advice you received when first starting your company? What would you tell a young entrepreneur in turn?
Plan. Your inspiration is great, but you need to know the numbers and have a good plan that works on paper. If the numbers don’t work on paper, they never will in real life.
What aspect of business ownership came as the biggest surprise to you?
The loneliness. When you have a job, you have friends who are your peers. When you own a business, your employees cannot be your friends. Add that to an around-the-clock work schedule, it can be very isolating.
What do you find most rewarding about owning your own business?
That I can look back at what was created and say, I did that. I made that from nothing. It feels good.
What resources would you recommend to someone who is contemplating starting her own business?
Write a business plan. Don’t even consider starting a business without one. There are entrepreneur centers that can help. In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Renaissance Entrepreneur center is amazing.
What would you say is the single most important key to sustaining a business long term?
Flexibility. The world moves a lot faster now, you need to keep up. You will have to adjust constantly to stay competitive.
What obstacles did you face in establishing your company and how did you overcome them?
Fear. I learned very early on that I was going to spend a lot of time outside of my comfort zone. Becoming an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. The day I signed my first lease, I didn’t sleep the night before and couldn’t stop shaking. I learned then I would have to find a way to push aside fear and uncertainty or nothing would happen. I learned to take that sinking feeling in my gut, push it aside and let logic dictate my moves instead of my feelings. Fear was, and is, a constant obstacle.
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