Mona Melms has been a friend, inspiration and mentor to me for years, so it was only fitting that she was one of the first women I approached with the idea of starting DirectHERy (which she gave an enthusiastic YES! to). As you will read below, Mona's positivity is infectious and her passion for wellness and her clients has made her one of Madison's most beloved trainers. Below is her DirectHERy Dozen.
1. Give us a little background about yourself and your business.
I'm pretty sure I was born wearing rose colored glasses, I see possibilities everywhere; and if they are missing, I make changes. I don't sit, I stand, I don't wait, I go.
I entered college to become a teacher, graduated and 6 months later went back to nursing school. My career began as a Labor and Delivery RN, I was surrounded by extraordinary women every day who taught me compassion, kindness and strength. I was a daily witness to the physical, emotional, and spiritual strength of women. I learned that giving up is never an option, that even when every cell in your body is demanding more, you have the ability to keep going. The miracle of birth, the strength, resiliency, and power of the female body left a lasting impact on me. I became addicted to fitness, it became my passion and playground. Little did I know that after giving birth to my own 2 daughters, I would harness this same physical, emotional, and spiritual feminine power, to survive 2 episodes of Stage 3 breast cancer.
2. Is this your first business venture?
Actually, my capstone project for my masters degree was a business plan for the creation of the Meriter Hospital Children's Center, an on-site day care. My first true foray was in 2008 when I opened melt, llc, a still thriving personal training studio. Mona Method, a collaborative fitness studio, is my latest vehicle of self discovery which connects mind, body and spirit.
3. Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur? If not, what was the event that changed your mind about becoming an entrepreneur?
Yes, I knew that I needed to break the mold of what is offered in fitness. I worked at many local clubs but wanted to try my interpretation of what is means to be well/feel well.
4. What has been your biggest challenge?
Taking the financial risk to get started.
5. What has been a success?
Offering programs that are unique and match my own philosophical approach to fitness, the design of classes and programs to address intensity and intention. Modalities that address only intensity to build core strength, power and balance will eventually fail the body if they are not balanced with intentional and mindful modalities that promote recovery and healing. That is why you don’t see a lot of equipment in the studio - your own body-weight is really all you need to become strong.
6. Did you have a business mentor or was there a woman/women in your life that you could rely on for guidance while navigating entrepreneurship?
Several women who I'm honored to call my friends got me started. Jill Lundberg, of Janus Galleries, is incredibly creative and designed my first website. Karen Fix, of Karen & Co listened to me for hours on our weekly walks and has been an incredible role model. Debbie Garten gave me extraordinary legal advice and held my hand through contract negotiations. Anne Connor, photographer and owner of Driftless Studio, decorated my studio with her photography and made me believe in myself. Linda Hughes, of Bell Laboratories listened, encouraged and guided me with her expertise in business.
7. Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration to start melt was Jennifer Weigand, a client who has become a dear friend, we were out on a training run together and told me it was time to do it! So I did!
8. How do you stay focused and motivated during those times when being a business owner can feel overwhelming.
First, my melt business partner Ben Dreyer, keeps me grounded and focused. He has encouraged me and guided me to open Mona Method to better expand group exercise. Second, I've developed incredible relationships with my clients, they truly are the reason for my success.
9. How do you choose the people you surround yourself with, within your business?
They need to demonstrate passion for their craft and be open to trying new ideas out.
10. What is your biggest piece of advice for women starting a business?
You don't have to have everything figured out - when nothing is sure, everything is possible, right?
11. As women business owners, we are often tasked with “doing it all” in regards to work life and our personal lives; do you think this is a realistic expectation?
When I was younger I would have answered this differently, but now I know that "doing it all" and doing it all well and as perfect as we want it, is crazy. Life is short, do what matters and makes a difference to you and those you love, right?
12. Favorite quote, song or poem.
Song: Alive by Sia
Quote: "Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken" - Oscar Wilde