Amanda Freick: “Happiness is a choice”

YOU decide your level of happiness. Happiness is a choice. I don’t care what situation you’re in, it is on you how you handle it. I have felt every emotion I can think of during this time. A lot of them negative. BUT I have also learned that in the midst of that negative emotion […]

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YOU decide your level of happiness.

Happiness is a choice. I don’t care what situation you’re in, it is on you how you handle it. I have felt every emotion I can think of during this time. A lot of them negative. BUT I have also learned that in the midst of that negative emotion I can stop, start listing things I’m grateful for, and immediately improve my mood. Now, I’m not saying I’ll start dancing in the streets and smiling ear to ear, but I am taking a step in the right direction and that’s what matters.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.

As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amanda Freick, an engineer, corporate leader, swimwear designer, spiritual junkie, wife and mom. Her career in the energy industry fuels a passion to see the way we consume electricity shift to meet the world’s needs, while her swim and lifestyle business (Amanda Louise LLC) fulfills a need for beautiful creativity and supporting women in meaningful ways. The blend of logical and creative is what makes Amanda truly unique.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Thank you for having me! I guess the backstory should go WAY back to really make sense, as my career path has been an interesting one.

My late father, and his father, were both engineers. You could say that the nerd blood flows strong in this one. After excelling through my high school education there was never a question that I would 1) go to my dad’s alma mater of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and 2) become an engineer. Although he passed long before that first day of college, his spirit was with me the entire time. I chose electrical engineering for a few reasons. The main two were that I was fascinated by spy gadgets on movies like James Bond and that I had seen a salary report that listed electrical near the top. I mean, just being honest!

During my time at Cal Poly I had a wonderful professor named Dr. Taufik who completely changed the course of my life. He mentioned to me that I should look into working for an electric utility. He had done summer sabbaticals in the industry and thought it could be a great fit for someone like me. (Ok, so ‘someone like me’ means that I am outgoing, a GIRL, and was actually asked if I was in the wrong classroom while in college.) He was right. After my first summer internship with San Diego Gas & Electric I was hooked.

That was 13 years ago and I’ve never looked back. The energy industry has given me a career I can be proud of, in a field that is changing the world. From technical roles, to HR, to sales, to leadership, I’ve always believed I’m put into roles for specific reasons, to learn specific lessons.

Here’s the fun side note. In 2014 I started Amanda Louise LLC. This is my swimwear brand that has morphed into a beautiful community filled with incredible women. At the start, it was all about fitness competition swimwear. (Google the NPC or IFBB if bodybuilding competitions are foreign to you!) I was competing myself and was unimpressed with the bikini I ordered online to wear for my first show. Yes, I was on stage in a tiny bikini, with the super dark tan, showing off all my hard work and dedication. After that first show I knew I could not only make a higher quality bikini, but also deliver a customer experience that made the athlete feel cared for and completely confident in their decision to work with me. These competitions are intense. Athletes work months, sometimes years, to bring a physique to stage that they’re proud of. The swimwear is basically their uniform, and it completes the look. I’m honored to be the one helping them shine on stage.

In addition to the competition swimwear, I also make custom pieces for more traditional use. This led to a wonderful collaboration with Gretchen Rossi of Bravo TV’s Real Housewives of Orange County, and a spot in the 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Both were complete pinch me moments, and I’m smiling just reflecting back on the crazy ride last year was for Amanda Louise.

I like to think that Amanda Louise fulfills my passion for supporting women in a completely creative way. My “career” helps me serve an industry I believe in to my core, and have an impact on projects that will shape our world.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?

The most interesting thing within Amanda Louise has to be landing Sports Illustrated. I had worked with a consultant prior to last year who told me that designers submit boxes of options and often have to wait years to get picked, if ever. It was disheartening to say the least. Well, fast forward and I was introduced to the Sports Illustrated team by the PR representative from Gretchen Rossi’s team. My original consultant was right, designers DO submit boxes of options. The point though, is that it only takes one. It only takes that one design to catch the eye of the incredible editorial staff and make it onto one of the gorgeous models for a coveted shot.

I submitted seven pieces. SEVEN. Each hand made and sent with a prayer to the Sports Illustrated offices in New York. After that I watched their Instagram stories like a hawk. Constantly reloading the editorial staff’s pages, the model pages, anything that might give me a glimmer of hope that one of my suits had made the cut. Then, I got the email. I made it. Insert all the screaming and dancing you can imagine. That was a dream come true. That was my moment where I proved to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. I mean, here’s an electrical engineer who was taught to sew as a kid landing a handmade bikini in the most coveted swimwear publication in the world. I still get chills.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

YES! Once you meet me, you know I’m always working on a pile of things. What can I say, I love to be busy.

Right now, there’s a few things going on. In my engineering life I continue support technologies and programs that I believe will be game changers for our industry. Want to chat about the energy industry? Make sure to find me on LinkedIn!

For Amanda Louise I’m leaning into something I am truly passionate about. Mental health. Did you know the World Health Organization has labeled burnout an actual medical issue? It’s real, and I’m all too familiar with it. My theory is that some women can just function at really impressive speeds. We’re efficient and hold ourselves to ridiculous standards. The problem is, the faster you go, the harder you crash. I’ve found that in my entrepreneurial circles mindfulness is constantly preached. There’s wonderful meditations and educational resources everywhere you look. In corporate this is not the case. The funny thing is though, the more I have personal conversations with corporate leaders, the more I realize many of the most successful people I know have one thing in common. It’s not writing down their goals, or some productivity hack, it’s mindfulness. It’s finding the time to meditate, to exercise thoughtfully, to journal. I realized not only did the exact population of women who need this most not have easy access, but that the mainstream social media accounts publicizing mindfulness could come off as way too “woo woo” for the average working mom. So, I decided to launch a YouTube channel in order to bring a level of practicality to mindfulness for the working woman. I’m releasing videos like “5 Minute Productivity Mediation” and “My Journal Hack to Ditch the Decision Fatigue.” It’s brand new but filled with love and if it even helps one woman, it’s worth it. (Just search Amanda Freick on YouTube to find it.)

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are so many. I really need to write a book just about the incredible women I’ve met along the way. Choosing just one in this moment is difficult, but I’ll share the story of a woman who is breaking the mold right now and deserves the shout out! In 2015 I met Megan Greenwood. We were both engineers at Eaton Corporation and both had passions outside of work. Mine was swimwear, hers was beer. She’d been home-brewing and had dreams of opening a brewery someday. Well, in 2017 she launched Greenwood Brewing, and just last month she opened the doors to the most gorgeous brewery and tap room I have ever seen. (If you’re in Phoenix, Arizona make sure to check her out!) Megan has been a logical, thoughtful, and unbiased sounding board along my journey. She has this way of playing devil’s advocate without calling you out. She can clearly explain nuances to situations that may have been blinded in my view by excitement. We use an app called Voxer to communicate which is basically voice recordings that the other person can listen to when they have time. It’s great for us because we can update each other daily, but don’t have to find a time in our crazy schedules to be on the phone at the same time. I’ve made a couple BIG career decisions lately and Megan’s thoughts and advice have been invaluable. Not only that, getting to live alongside her as she launches her dream business, and seeing it take off like wildfire, motivates me more than anything.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?

First of all, I want to say that my heart goes out to every single person reading this. No matter what your story, we have all felt incredible stress during this time and for that I am sending you love.

Our particular family situation has been interesting. My husband serves as the CEO for an assisted living company. (I can hear you gasp from here.) Yes, to say it’s been stressful is the understatement of the century. Luckily, their company has an incredible leadership team and amazing staff who have come together in the most beautiful way. That said, it’s still a lot for him to manage and as the work is “essential” he is still going to the facilities at least five days a week.

My role as Director of Business Operations with TRC (we’re an international engineering and consulting firm) was remote to begin with. I work from my home office but travel close to 50%. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Right before the pandemic shut everything down, it was definitely on the “more” side of travel. I’ve been on a plane at least twice a month for 6 years. Shutting that down cold turkey was truly an adjustment. Plane rides were my favorite time to meditate, to catch up on work without distraction, and to daydream. It was time I was forced into just “being.” When I lost that, I didn’t realize how important it was to my sanity. Not only that, my second week fully home they shut down daycare. *insert gloom and doom music*

Clearly all parents have their own decisions to make about childcare and schooling during this unprecedented time. For me, there was nine weeks that my son was home with me while I was trying to work full time. To the moms out there, we were (are) potty training so you can only imagine the things that burst into the room mid-conference call. At first, I thought I could handle it. I set up toys and coloring supplies on the floor of my office, had Disney movies on repeat, and for the first few days we were good. Then he got over it, and I’ll be honest, if I got more than 10 minutes of uninterrupted focus it was because I handed him my phone with YouTube kids on it. I was frustrated, and so was he. He had gone from playing with friends all day, with wonderful teachers and exciting activities, to watching his mom stare at other adults on video calls all day. No one was happy. I prayed for nap time and would work as quickly and efficiently as possible during that 90 or so minutes until the wrath of toddlerhood awoke. I was yelling more; I wasn’t the mom I wanted to be.

Luckily, for my birthday in April my husband ordered me a Peloton bike. Yes, they live up to the hype. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the instructors I stared at on that bike got me through those nine weeks. Once that came, I would force myself to set aside the guilt of not working during 20 minutes of nap time and go jump on the bike. I would scream, and cry, and laugh, and get out all the built-up frustration of the given day out of my body. It was magical. To Ally Love and Jess King, you are incredible. Know that you are changing lives.

My husband, bless his heart, also realized how insane I was becoming and would give me time off when he got home from work. Here he is, running a company that is the bullseye of a global pandemic, and instead of coming home and pouring a whiskey, he grabs our kid and heads outside for a few so I can breathe. One beautiful side effect of this situation has been the closeness in my marriage. We’ve always had a great relationship, but this has really taken it to another level.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

At home, it’s been all about communication and finding joy in every moment possible. At first, I was feeling guilty for having any fun at all while I knew people all over the world were suffering. Then I realized that putting myself into a state of misery was not helping anyone, only hurting myself and my family. We started spending our entire weekends in the backyard pool that we are so blessed to have. We’re cooking great meals and enjoying cocktails in the wonderful weather. We’ve also reprioritized fitness and taking care of ourselves. Remaining healthy has helped not only upped our immune systems but is so good for our mental wellbeing.

Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?

With Amanda Louise my orders fell off a cliff. Not only that, but clients were asking for refunds because their shows were cancelled. It was extremely stressful and quite frankly I didn’t know what to do or how to pivot.

After the orders stopped coming in, I shifted to making masks to donate locally. That ended up landing me a couple large orders for businesses that needed them quickly but couldn’t secure inventory from traditional mask vendors. This was amazing because it not only brought in the much needed revenue to pay my monthly bills for the business, but it allowed me to recruit local seamstresses and provide them a source of income as well.

After the mask crisis died down, I shifted to making button headbands. These lycra headbands are made with the same material I use for swimwear and have a button over each ear to hook a facemask on. I started a program called Headbands for Heroes where I donate a button headband to a woman in healthcare for every one that is purchased. This took off way more than I could have ever hoped. I’ve shipped hundreds of headbands, and like the masks, it’s been just enough to keep things in the green.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

On the corporate front it’s been all about “grace.” I have to remind myself that I am not the only one losing my mind because of a screaming child. There are thousands of employees at TRC all facing unique struggles. It took me a couple weeks to drop the “I’m great and can totally handle this” to allowing myself to be more honest and allowing that space for others to share as well. One example that I think was a pretty powerful moment was during a sector townhall meeting. We had almost 1,000 employees logged onto Zoom and I had been tapped to host the session. In our industry we always start with a “safety moment.” I decided to go against tradition and invite everyone to participate in a “moment of gratitude.” With all the craziness going on, we still have so much to be grateful for. I asked that anyone who wanted to participate send me what they were grateful for. The response brought me to tears. People wrote the most beautiful things and I’m so blessed to be the keeper of all those messages. We ended up turning the responses into a word cloud in the shape of our company logo, then making postcards of the image and mailing it to everyone who participated as a reminder to find gratitude.

Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?

I’m in a unique position because I always work from home. I’ve found that having a set “work area” is really important for me. I don’t ever work in bed, or on our family room couch. I don’t want those areas to be tainted by the stressful energy of my work. I also allow myself to do what needs to be done when it makes sense. Sometimes that means emailing late night when I can’t sleep or stepping away from my corporate computer to go on a walk. My biggest piece of advice is to give yourself GRACE. You cannot, and will not, do it ALL. Things will slip, more than normal, and that is ok. I love the quote from Stella + Dot founder Jessica Herrin, which I will paraphrase “In life there are glass and rubber balls. Some things, like your family, are glass. If they drop, they will shatter. Other things, like a financial report due date, are rubber balls. If it drops, it’s not ideal, but it’ll bounce back up.” I constantly have to remind myself what in my life is glass.

For my family we really focus on fun and making memories that will help us look back on this time and smile. Yes, it’s stressful. Yes, it’s crazy. No, that doesn’t mean we need to sit and be depressed.

Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?

Meditation and exercise are hands down my secret weapons. If I have a ton of energy built up (stress, fear, anger, etc) then it’s straight to the Peloton bike or the streets for a run. For me, exercising is the fastest way to lift my mood and shift my internal energy.

In the case of finding peace, hope, and motivation… that is done on my meditation pillow. It doesn’t have to be long sessions, even five minutes will do the trick. I look at mindfulness in the most practical way possible by thinking “What can I do in this moment to set my day back on track.”

Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

5 Reasons to be Hopeful:

  1. Everything seems dramatic when you’re in it. Think of how quickly the last five years have flown by. This too shall pass and soon be a memory you will share around the campfire.

I look down at my son and cannot believe he is already 3.5 years old. It seems like yesterday I found out I was pregnant, handed my husband a 30 pack of Coors Light with a note that said, “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, for the next 9 months you’ll be drinking for two.” Although so much of this pandemic has been stressful, I know this is only a season in life. A season that will pass. A season that will have its purpose and lessons, and for that I am grateful.

2. There are beautiful moments to be found in the darkness, if you’ll only look.

Our son was home from daycare for nine weeks in the spring. The day we went back, his eyes and little heart lit up like a Christmas tree. In that moment I knew I made the right decision for his mental health. I will never forget the look on his sweet little face.

3. Growth happens outside our comfort zone

It’s cliché, I know. It’s also true. During this time so many of us have been pushed WAY outside our comfort zone, I know I have. I’ve also found myself understanding how important it is to stay on top of my physical and mental health like never before. This pandemic has pushed me into healthy habits I’ve wanted to start for years. For that, I am eternally grateful.

4. YOU decide your level of happiness.

Happiness is a choice. I don’t care what situation you’re in, it is on you how you handle it. I have felt every emotion I can think of during this time. A lot of them negative. BUT I have also learned that in the midst of that negative emotion I can stop, start listing things I’m grateful for, and immediately improve my mood. Now, I’m not saying I’ll start dancing in the streets and smiling ear to ear, but I am taking a step in the right direction and that’s what matters.

5. You’re reading this.

If you’re reading this, you’re alive. You are breathing. You have this day to make an impact. Don’t believe me? Pick up your phone and find a name you haven’t talked to in a while and call them… just to say hello and see how they’re doing. Go to the grocery store and tell store clerk they have nice eyes and thank them for working during this time. The point is — make someone’s day. The ripple effect of that can be profound, and YOU have the ability to be the pebble in the water that starts it.

From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Listen. Just let them vent. I think especially for women we need to talk things out, and often feel better after simply spilling our guts. I know I do.

Also, get them off social media, television, podcasts, or whatever other medium that is increasing their stress levels. Being informed is important, but constantly consuming stories of stress and worry is horrible for your mental health. Offer a good book, inspirational podcast, or romcom movie as a “vacation” from reality to lift their spirits.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Insanity — doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

I am a huge Einstein fan. I actually have another one of his quotes (“Creativity is intelligence having fun”) hanging in my office. I love the insanity quote because if you don’t like something in your life, unless you are consciously choosing something different, you are choosing to remain the same. I think of this whenever I find myself complaining. If I’m complaining about something, then what am I doing to change the situation?

How can our readers follow you online?

My personal Instagram is @amandafreick. My swimwear business is @amandalouiseswimwear. I’ll also be launching a personal website which will be

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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