This is a follow up story for Amanda Louise Swimwear. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
I’m Ally McCarthy and I am the NEW owner of Amanda Louise Swimwear (I purchased the company from its founder, Amanda, in June), a competition suit company. I have also been a nutrition coach and competition prep coach with Fortitude Athletics for about 18 months, a company that my boyfriend started 6 years ago.
I was a member of Corporate America until last October when I lost my job due to COVID. I knew entrepreneurship was something I wanted to venture into for quite some time, but I was terrified, and the reason why I ultimately decided to take that leap of faith! It was, and still is, scary, but so worth it. I’ve lived by the motto “ Fuck fear. Do it scared” for the last few years and it has served me well!
With Amanda Louise, I rent out competition suits for Bikini, Wellness, and Figure competitors. The bodybuilding industry is growing significantly, especially when it comes to the number of women competing. Each weekend there are dozens of shows and hundreds of competitors who step on stage. Competition suits are anywhere from $300-$1500 to purchase. Offering suites for rent, take some of the cost of competing down...and it gives ladies the opportunity to wear a different suit each time they take center stage.
With Fortitude Athletics, I am a nutrition coach. I help people from all walks of life build healthier relationships with food and help them reach their fitness and health goals through nutrition. I also prepare bikini competitors for competitions (I help them with their nutrition and posing) which is such an amazing experience for them and such an honor for me to be a part of.
These two businesses go hand in hand! Fortitude Athletics has 6 times as many clients as we did this same time last year and I am really just getting started with Amanda Louise but I have big plans and goals for it here within the next year.
Between these two ventures, I made twice as much in September 2021 than I did per month when I was in corporate America.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Amanda Louise did have a slow year in 2020. The previous owner, Amanda, was starting to scale back due to everything going on in the world; shows were being canceled and rescheduled so there were a lot of competitors who took the year off. As a result, she was debating closing up shop altogether.
Enter...ME! Amanda threw it out there to social media that she was selling the company...and I bit! This was exactly what I was looking for: an established rental suit company, with quality inventory, a good social media presence and following, and a solid customer base. Amanda and I scheduled a call and what was supposed to be a 30-minute call quickly turned into 90 minutes. We talked about inventory, life, ideas for the company, competing, our kids, and, at the end of the call, we made the connection that we went to the same college, at the same time so we had to have crossed paths at some point in the past. It all felt meant to be!
Since I purchased the company, it’s been a steady regrowing process. Luckily, many of the ladies who had been renting from Amanda Louise for years have continued renting from me. I’ve made sure I have taken really good care of each of these customers and have talked with most of them over the phone to help create solid relationships during this transition. I have also had clients and connections of mine from the competition space inquire and rent suits as well.
I have spent time creating a strong social media presence (since that is super important these days, especially with the audience I am trying to reach) which has been fun! I am currently in the process of doing some work on click funnels with the help of a friend who is also an entrepreneur and I am looking forward to seeing what that brings.
Always approach every challenge as an opportunity.
My Fortitude Athletics competition clients have also been incredibly supportive. I’ve had a number of them wear my suits already or have rented them for upcoming shows. Being backstage with my walking advertisements has been, and will continue to be a huge benefit to me.
One thing I’m incredibly excited about is that I will soon be adding 11 new suits to my rental inventory and practice posing suits as well.
With Fortitude Athletics, as I mentioned above, we have 6 times as many clients this year as we did this time last year and we have also added 6 new coaches to help extend our reach! We are steadily growing daily and it makes me feel so great knowing we are helping people live healthier and happier lives!
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
This last year has taught me a lot about a lot of things.
First, it’s taught me that good things can and will come after bad things happen FOR you. I was laid off exactly a year ago from a job that I didn't have a passion for anymore. I was in pharmaceutical sales for a little over a decade, a career that I got into because I wanted to help people, but I wasn’t helping people in the capacity I wanted to be helping them. I showed up every single day and went above and beyond my job description. I was a contributor to my team and my company. I’m a single Mom so I stayed for longer than I wanted because I didn’t think I could make the same level of income doing anything else. I was wrong.
Not only have I been able to make good money, but I’ve also made more money. I’m helping people become healthy with the service and coaching I provide now with Fortitude Athletics, and I’m helping ladies feel gorgeous and confident on stage with Amanda Louise.
I also have more time to spend with my daughter and more flexibility to do the things that make me happy. To me, that’s more important than anything else in this world.
After I lost my job, I put my head down and grew my already strong nutrition client base. I did try and look for another corporate job and I interviewed for many that I was way more than qualified for but none of them felt right. I tried to dabble in a few things that I knew would make me a lot of money (financial advising, MLM) but I had zero passion for them so I decided to continue focusing all of my efforts on things I am passionate about.
At the end of the day, my passion lies in health, nutrition, fitness, and competing. I am lucky enough to be able to have found two ventures that allow me to make money doing things I love.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
For Amanda Louise, I will have these click funnels up and running soon. I also plan on sponsoring bodybuilding shows and having booth space as a way to get my name out there and my suits on stage! I have Fortitude Athletics clients competing across multiple states and I go to all of those shows, so that backstage presence will be invaluable! I also plan on setting up sponsorship programs where I will offer free rentals to Nationally Qualified competitors to wear at National shows. I will continue putting myself out there on social media and growing that following as well!
With Fortitude Athletics, the plan is to grow, grow GROW!!! As we have recently added coaches, we expect to grow our lifestyle client base (those just looking to live healthier lives) by at least 50% over the next 6 months. We have been recruiting veteran competitors and as we continue putting high-quality competitors on stage who take the W, we will attract more high-level athletes and create that domino effect. The plan is to be one of the big-name teams in competitive bodybuilding and with the reputation we have been creating, we have the confidence that we are well on our way to that!
What am I excited about?? ALL OF IT! I’m excited to help people achieve a goal they never thought was possible. I’m excited to continue putting my quality suits on stage. I’m excited to make money doing things I love and am passionate about. I’m excited to provide a life for my daughter that I never thought possible. I’m excited to show other ladies and single Moms that you CAN make a great living doing what you love. I’m excited to continue doing things that scare me a little bit, or maybe a lot a bit!
Have you read any good books in the last year?
Usually, I’m a big reader, but the last few months have been pretty busy so haven't had the opportunity to read as much as I’d like to.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
My biggest advice is to be POSITIVE. Always approach every challenge as an opportunity. Will everything always go your way? No. But there is a lesson in every aspect of entrepreneurship. I’m still new at this, but I'm learning that nothing beats hard work, patience, persistence, positivity, and passion.
As an entrepreneur, the ONLY way I’m getting paid is if I do the work. No one else is going to put in the hours of work for me. I have a pretty regimented schedule when it comes to how I approach my days. I stick to this schedule as much as I can (with flexibility, of course!). I start each day by making a to-do list, and following up on emails, messages, and leads. Mondays are reserved for Amanda Louise, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are my nutrition client check-ins with Fortitude Athletics, and the rest of the week and weekends I toggle between the two businesses depending on what needs to get done. Sometimes I have to step outside of my comfort zone which includes asking for advice from those who have more experience than I do in the entrepreneurial space. Luckily I have great access to some very successful business owners in my inner circle.
I’ve also learned that patience, positivity, and persistence are all incredibly important. I was in corporate sales for 12 years before owning my own business, so I know sales can be slow but it’s all about keeping on the ball. I also know that, sometimes, I have to wait for all the benefits of my hard work to pay off...especially if you have a great product. Giving up just because things are slow to take off isn’t an option and that’s not how success is found. I see this all too often; a product doesn't take off right away and people just give up on themselves and their business. Even on the hardest days, I always remain positive because I’m a firm believer that positivity breeds positivity.
I have SO much passion for both of my businesses. Getting into the competition suit space was something that I considered for a while because it seemed like a natural progression with doing competition prep with Fortitude Athletics. I love watching clients’ transformations (both the physical and the mental) and I love being able to provide ladies (both my clients and numerous other competitors across the country) with beautiful stage suits from Amanda Louise.
At the end of the day, if you love what you do, and have a good product or service offering that you are passionate about, people will see that and the business will come. Hard work and patience pay off! I’ve had SO many incredible friends, clients, and people I don’t even know share my Instagram stories and support me in both of my business ventures.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
For Amanda Louise, I’m currently on the market for a dependable seamstress who can work with spandex/swimsuit fabric. There will come a point here soon where I plan on not being able to handle everything on my own!
If interested, email me!
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
Get our 5-minute email newsletter packed with business ideas and money-making opportunities, backed by real-life case studies.
- 4,818 founder case studies
- Access to our founder directory
- Live events, courses and recordings
- 8,628 business ideas
- $1M in software savings