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Level 5

You Said It! Q & A with QB Community Member Sherrie Bainer

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What’s on your mind right now? We know folks who work for themselves have plenty to say about the business of doing business. That’s why we want to share your insights, ideas and best practices. Today we hear from Sherrie Bainer, Head of Sales for GRACEDBYGRIT a multimillion-dollar women’s athletic apparel company with a dedication for giving back to women and the community.

Two years ago, Sherrie ditched her well-paying, stable corporate job to join a small, fiesty startup. She tells us how her decision to make this giant leap began with a deep passion for the company’s mission -- and for a rockin’ pair of booty shorts.

What first attracted you to GRACEDBYGRIT?

I'm huge into CrossFit. I was GRACEDBYGRIT’s very first online customer and at their very first trunk show. I remember I bought a pair of booty shorts. I loved the product so much I came back a few days later and bought them in every single color! And I really loved the mission behind the company.

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How did that mission draw you to work at the company?

What catapulted me into leaving my corporate job was the opportunity to be a part of something bigger. The GRACEDBYGRIT co-founders, Kimberly Caccavo and Kate Nowlan, were inspired to make athletic clothing with an element of safety after a local woman named Chelsea King was killed while on a run. Every piece of apparel we sell comes with a safety whistle, and every pair of pants has a cell phone pocket in the front and the back. We give $10 to the Chelsea's Light Foundation for every pair of leggings sold.

We have a commitment to our community as well. We’ve created programs like Gritty Girls, where we teach young girls about feeling empowered, standing up for themselves and loving yourself no matter your size. GRACEDBYGRIT is all about being inclusive.

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So how did you make the leap from the corporate world to a small startup?

I had worked for Qualcomm, a big corporation, for 15 years, and I loved my job. But I was inspired by what GRACEDBYGRIT was doing, and that really drew me in. I loved that it was this all-woman startup, too. When I met Kate and Kimberly, they were working in a house across the street from Kimberly’s. I was thinking corporate: "You guys need some structure here, and you need to think about the different sales channels." They kept saying, "When are you gonna come work for us?"

I’d say, "I have a real job!"

I was working behind the scenes for free. Then I thought, "Maybe I'm gonna make this jump." I actually volunteered for a layoff at Qualcomm, and I joined this amazing group of women. Let me tell you, I have learned more in the last two years than I learned at my 15 years in corporate America!

What were some of the challenges you faced as you transitioned from a corporate job to a startup gig?

Not having structure was a big one. In a startup, you’re making it up as you go along. That was hard in the beginning. Working at a startup means your attention is on all the details at once. You have to be flexible, whether you’re launching a new product, putting something new on the website or changing the marketing plan. You have to go where the revenue happens to be. That's been a shift.

What would you tell someone who wants to leave their regular gig for a startup?

It has to be something you're passionate about. I'm passionate about what this company is doing and what it stands for. The salary is obviously a lot different. I took a tremendous pay cut, but as you get older you realize money’s not everything. You know, I couldn’t care less what my title is at GRACEDBYGRIT. At the end of the day, I love what I'm doing. I know I'm helping people.

Before you go

QB Community members, what job transition stories do you have to share? What would motivate you to leave a stable job and work at a startup?


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