Success doesn’t happen overnight. A lot of times, you hear about a persons “overnight success”. When in reality, they have probably been working for years to have this one moment. Especially with social media being so prevalent where it seems like everyone is winning, it’s important to dial it back and recognize those are just highlights.
As part of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emma Vollrath.
Emma Vollrath or commonly nicknamed Lou Lou, grew up in Northern California. Her love for health and fitness reshaped the way she looked at herself. Emma wanted to help other women change the way they see themselves, so she decided to become a personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine and start training. Her desire to change the way women look at themselves influenced her to create a line to help you look and feel good naked. Wanting to reshape athlesuire, Emma combines innovation and fashion to create something women will look forward to slipping on.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit how you grew up?
Growing up, I was really fortunate to have the freedom to be as creative as I wanted. I had tons of costumes and would dress all my friends up and we would put on fashion shows or film mock YouTube videos. Life was really carefree and fun, I just had the ability to be whoever I wanted. I think that creativity definitely shaped me be who I am today because I had the freedom to find what I was passionate about.
You are currently leading an organization that aims to make a social impact. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?
With Emma Lou, I wanted to change how clothing, athelsuire specifically, was perceived. It can be daunting to throw on something that’s curve hugging or something that you feel you have to be active in. I wanted to design athlesuire that flatters your figure and something with internal benefits, such as reducing water weight and bloating in your lower stomach. Being able to create innovative, chic athlesuire that works with you is what Emma Lou is all about.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
I really struggled with body dysmorphia and anxiety and I needed something to help me navigate through that. I had always been active, but felt like I was running myself down. I wanted to see what genuinely would work for me, and so I decided to become a trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Once I was educated enough to know what is helpful for a women’s body and what isn’t, I started training. I realized there is so much more to training than the physical aspects. Of course it’s a plus, but they want to feel good on the inside too. Most requests that women gave me during our sessions was “I just want to feel/look good naked” or “I hate the way my lower stomach looks”. I knew about waist trainers and sweat belts on the market, but those were uncomfortable and weren’t practical for everyday wear. I decided that I would make something on my own that makes your lower stomach sweat and reduce bloating, but is discrete and can be worn as an outfit. I saw a gap in the market and decided to go for it.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
I was tired of living my dream life through my imagination. I was so ready for it to become a reality l that when I had my “Aha Moment” it was like FINALLY! Since that moment in realizing I deserve the life I dreamt of, I never looked back.
Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?
First, find what you’re passionate about and how you can monetize that or make it into something long-term. Once I found my niche, I started to sort out the legalities of my business to make sure that everything was in order. It’s not the most exciting part about having a business but doing it first thing is so important! And then you want to find your brand voice. How are you going to change the space and put your touch on it? Establishing yourself with your brand is something that took me a while to do, but one you find your brand identity, it makes targeting an audience and everything else fall into place.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
The most interesting thing that has happened to me since starting was probably being chosen for a QVC & HSN product find. Once you were chosen, you had the opportunity to travel somewhere where the competitions were being held and present your product in front of an HSN panel. It was so amazing being able to meet other women entrepreneurs! I was just starting out, so being able to network and meet others was incredible and so motivating.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?
The very first launch I did, when I opened the boxes of clothes I ordered, all of the logos were upside down! It definitely wasn’t funny at the time but, looking back it makes me laugh to see how far I’ve come. Now I make sure to see pictures of the product before it’s produced and sent.
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
My dad is definitely one of my biggest mentors. He is extremely level-headed and is incredibly smart. I go to him for all of my business questions. He isn’t in the fashion scene, but he is a very seasoned businessman. All of my mentors come from my family. I am so fortunate to be a member of a family who always has my best interest in mind. From cousins, to aunts, uncles, grandparents, and my parents, they all give me input I value and appreciate.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
There are so many women who have contacted me via DM or email expressing how excited they are after consecutively wearing the Sculpt & Sweat bottoms or an outfit from Emma Lou. They are beginning to love the curves they used to feel self-conscious about and I am so happy to be able to create something that helps someone mentally and physically.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
As a society we can ease up on the judgement towards others, realize negativity makes us stagnant, and we can do a better job of supporting one another. If we start to do more positive thinking and manifesting as a community, it will be beneficial to everyone involved.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
The answer is always no if you don’t ask.
As soon as I heard this from a podcast I was listening to, it stuck with me. I say this every time I am anxious to ask someone for something and remember the worst thing they can say is no.
Never take anything personally.
This is a mantra I repeat in my head constantly. It circles back around to not caring what anyone else thinks of you.
Be kind to everyone, you don’t know what they are going through.
This one is my favorite piece of advice. People are always going through silent struggles that we know nothing about. Being kind to someone can make their day, especially when they are going through a hard time.
You are the only one in charge of your actions.
When you own up to your actions and realize you are the only one who is in charge of how you treat others, it changes the way you live your life.
Success doesn’t happen overnight.
A lot of times, you hear about a persons “overnight success”. When in reality, they have probably been working for years to have this one moment. Especially with social media being so prevalent where it seems like everyone is winning, it’s important to dial it back and recognize those are just highlights.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
There really is never the perfect time to start something you’re passionate about, so you might as well just go for it. It can be scary at first, but as you keep progressing, you will find more and more reasons to keep going!
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Emily Weiss! She is the Founder and CEO of Glossier INC. I look up to a lot of female founders, but she is someone who really inspired me to start my own company. I love how transparent she is and how hard she works. Plus, I feel like she knows tons of good places to eat.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can follow my personal Instagram @emmamvollrath and my brands Instagram is @emmalouthelabel.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!