VICTORIA RODRIGUEZ / CEO & FOUNDER OF THE RUNNING STYLIST / NEW YORK, NY
Tell me a little bit about yourself and the projects that you're working on.
Victoria Rodriguez: I founded, The Running Stylist Incorporated, as a creative outlet by way of a blog aiming to combine fashion, fitness and philanthropy to inspire and empower. I realized that all of these could be uses as tool to make all of us stronger, more confident, and more empowered individuals. That’s when it went from blog to business. I then created, The Fit Style Approach, the services aspect of The Running Stylist that combines fashion, fitness, and philanthropy on one platform as a means to build confidence, strength, boldness, and get people to the best versions of themselves.
In terms of my background . . . I have masters in social work and public administration. I’m currently (slowly but surely) working toward a doctorate in strategic leadership. I’ve worked in the non-profit sector for nearly 14 years. Both with patients and in healthcare administration (what I currently do full time to pays the bills). I’ve gained so much knowledge and business sense from working in my current role in administration; it’s just not what drives me. I've always felt a passion to help people and make a difference, which is why I went into social work. Yet, I always had other passions and interests. I fell in love running and became a running coach. I’ve always loved fashion (since I was a kid) and got into styling. I wanted to find a way to incorporate my passion for fitness, fashion and helping others, so I started the business.
What are some the obstacles of starting your own project?
VR: It's hard to find balance and the time to push yourself forward when starting a side hustle. Life gets so busy and there are so many other things we have to do on top of building a business, like working a 9-5 (or 6 or 7) to pay the bills or taking classes to build your knowledge base. Sometimes I feel I'm not getting as far ahead as I should be in many aspects of the business. I'm very grateful for my family and friends, who are always encouraging; but some days, even with their encouragement, I need to be able to give myself the extra push that I need to keep going. My faith also helps a lot, but sometimes it’s just hard. It can get discouraging when things don't go the way you hoped or envisioned. When starting a side hustle or personal project, you have to be determined, dedicated, have enough confidence to believe in yourself, and maintain your support network/faith.
I’ve always had a clear sense that I wanted to do something to help others, and that in itself is not necessarily the easiest course. I also didn’t grow up in the best neighbourhood and have gone through my own self-esteem issues going back to my childhood. Sometimes you have to try to separate yourself from what you see around you to stay focused and get to where you want to be. I’m working on finding that balance of remembering where I came from, knowing where I want to be, and never forgetting who I was and who I am.
What are some things that you do as a wellness coach to center yourself and make sure that you're in a good place?
VR: It's a behavioral mind-set change. I could be running around every which way and feeling like I have a lot of deadlines or like I don’t have enough time to take care of myself. I have trained myself to take a moment and recognize that health and self-care are very important. If I don't stay healthy and in the right frame of mind, I'm not going to be able to get half of the things done that I need to get done or be there for friends and family. I have to remember that my relationships are as equally important as my professional successes. I can’t succeed without them.
What advice would you give to someone that wants to start their own side project and make it a reality?
VR: I would say take that idea and run with it! Don't take “no” for an answer. Find your focus. Be open to the ideas of others and to staying “in it to win it” if things don't go as planned. Be adaptable and able to adjust to whatever is handed to you. Mold the obstacles that are supposed to work against you into something that works for you. Create a business network of people—strong women. . . strong people...men and women. Build a support network of people that you can go to for feedback that is honest, genuine, and will help you. Surround yourself with a good community and even when things get discouraging, keep your eyes on the bigger picture.
Who are your mentors?
VR: My parents have always been very supportive. They did the best they could with what they had. I never had a moment when I didn’t feel loved; knowing that there was that strong love, guided me. I’m one of the first in my family to have a college degree, and I think having their love in the backdrop definitely helped push me forward and helped guide my confidence.
In general, I try to surround myself, especially now that I’ve entered my thirties, with strong women, who give mutual support and respect. I used to have varying groups of friends, but not all of those friendships were healthy and supportive. I realized they were a little bit more selfish than I wanted to have in my life. At the end of the day, you need people in your life, who are looking out for you while they are looking out for themselves.
How will you bloom in the next year?
VR: I'm hoping to take everything that I've been learning and really push my business forward. I want to keep building my confidence and to not be scared to try new things, especially things that I think could be beneficial. There are lessons in failure. I don’t want to be afraid of failing. I will build my personal relationships, keep those supportive entities in my life, and continue to recognize the importance of grounded relationships. So I guess . . . my focus this year is on blooming relationships, blooming self-esteem, and a blooming business.
Oh, that’s great! I’m excited for you! To highlight The Running Stylist; what services do you provide to help others and what do you want to share about your business?
VR: The Running Stylist combines fashion and fitness to build self-esteem and allow people to find/be the best versions of themselves. Services can range from combined fitness and styling packages to just styling to just running coaching to leadership development. My clients have the option to do “The Total Package” where we can work together on a custom fitness regime with a styling aspect on the side with the goal of pulling out confidence that they didn’t know was there. It’s for all women . . . women who are going through tough or stressful times and don’t have as much time for self-care or need a boost to get them back on track . . . maybe someone who just dropped or increased a size and doesn’t know what styling will make them feel good. . . to someone who just wants to plan a killer outfit for an occasion or wants a running coach to get them through their first 5k, 10k, half marathon, or whatever the goal might be. It's all about accomplishments, personal goals and feeling good about one’s self.
What you want to be remembered for?
VR: I want to be remembered for making a difference in the lives of others. I feel that we're here on this earth to help others, even more then ourselves. If I can find unique and interesting ways to use fashion and fitness to make people feel better about themselves, want to give back to others, and be better leaders, then I’ll feel more then accomplished.
Do you have 3 wellness tips, wellness or styling tips, that you would like to give to every client?
1. Self-care is so important. Prioritize it. You can’t help others if you’re a hot mess. Take time to rest, drink enough water, eat right, exercise, de-stress and find relationships that allow you to thrive.
2. Always dress in what makes you feel comfortable in your own skin. That being said, fashion is moldable and adaptable, so don’t be afraid to try new styles, trends, and colors. Your comfort level may surprise you.
3. Running is often more mental than physical. It’s a great parable to life. No pain lasts forever, and trust me, you are stronger then you think. A healthy mind-set is key to everything.
*Cover photo by Jun Jimenez.