How She Got There: Sami Sweeney, Pure Barre Fitness Studios Owner & Co-Founder of 421Reset

Name: Sami Sweeney
Age: 33
Job Title and Description: Owner of six Pure Barre Fitness Studios, Co-Founder of 421Reset
College Name/Major: University of Idaho/Economics and Finance
Website: www.purebarre.com
Twitter Handle: @purebarrewa
Instagram Handle: @samisween, @purebarrewa, @421reset

What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

SS: I own and operate six Pure Barre Fitness studios in the Seattle area, alongside my husband, Brandon. Our staff consists of 104 women. Our studios are open seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. My days are filled with teaching fitness, developing and managing staff, marketing, connecting with clients, event planning, networking, ordering retail and basically hustling my face off to keep my businesses performing at an optimal level. The scope of my responsibilities changes daily. There really isn’t a “typical day” in my line of work, just an endless amount of opportunity to improve, adapt and grow.

What is the best part of your job?

SS: My response to this is two-pronged. First, my passion is helping people achieve their health and fitness goals. I genuinely love working in the fitness industry and helping people look and feel their best. But just as gratifying is owning my own business and having the autonomy to grow my brand and business in the ways I see best fit.

What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?

SS: I started teaching fitness in college at our college rec center. At this point, I was on the path to work in finance as a financial planner, or something along those lines. Teaching fitness was simply something I did for fun, to explore my love for anatomy, exercise and movement. It was this experience that taught me how much I loved teaching, leading and motivating others to work out. It was also this experience that gave me the confidence and interest to apply to be a Pure Barre teacher in Nashville, TN after I graduated.

What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?

SS: I love this quote by Gary Vaynerchuk: “You have to understand your own personal DNA. Don’t do things because I do them or Steve Jobs or Mark Cuban tried it. You need to know your personal brand and stay true to it.”  Be self-aware and know your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll be much more successful and happier in life if your career path is consciously customized for you! I also love the idea of having a personal brand. Your career goals should always be aligned with your personal brand.

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

SS: I’ve made many, many mistakes along the way. The first that comes to mind is regarding staffing and failing to proactively grow my teaching team when we experienced demand for more classes. My original team was a thoughtfully selected group of six instructors, all hired and trained to run our original Pure Barre location. But as demand grew, so did the need for additional teachers. Instead of prioritizing hiring, I stretched my small staff too thin and ultimately made some hurried hiring decisions that cost me a lot of time, money and energy. Knowing when to hire and who to hire is a skill that must be developed quickly by entrepreneurs. Who you add to your team can single-handedly make or break your business.

What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

SS: Last year I was selected as a Puget Sound Business Journal 40 Under 40 honoree. I was 32 years old. It was surreal to share my business experience and lessons learned as a business owner on a stage alongside Seattle’s most accomplished young entrepreneurs and business leaders across all different industries.

What do you look for when considering hiring someone?  

SS: In my industry, it’s critical to have a passion to work with people. The “soft skills” count just as much as experience and training in the fitness biz. I look for outgoing, personal, warm people who are comfortable working with others.

What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

SS: If you’re setting out to open your own business, it’s critical that you do your due diligence. Find a mentor in the industry who has accomplished something similar to what you’re setting out to do. Ask a lot of questions. Know your competition. Know your industry. Understand the financials behind your endeavor. Be realistic with start-up expectations. In sum, research, research, research.  

What's the one thing that's stood out to you the most in a resume?

SS: For me, even more important than someone’s education is their ability to hustle! I read between the lines with resumes. I greatly value someone’s ability to effectively juggle many variables at a time. A candidate who has managed to go to school, maintain a part-time job, volunteer and partake in various interests and hobbies will always beat a candidate who has only excelled in one area. These people tend to be quick learners and adaptable and willing to push through work-place adversity.

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Amanda is a senior at Carthage College double majoring in Communications and Public Relations. She is originally from Chicago, Illinois, which she can confirm is indeed a windy city. When she's not at cross country or track & field practice, she can be found obsessing over pizza, watching dachshund videos on Facebook, or enjoying the Lake Michigan view on campus. She is also the Editor in Chief for her college's Her Campus chapter, and a Her Campus Editorial Intern.

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