In this episode of “The Fire Inside Her” podcast, host Diane Schroeder invites Andrea Kelly, a trailblazer in the outdoor apparel industry, to share her inspiring journey towards inclusivity. Andrea’s story takes us from her role at Columbia Sportswear, where she spearheaded the creation of an inclusive sizes business unit, to the founding of her own organization, Make Plus Equal, dedicated to changing the industry from within. We’ll learn a lot as we take this journey with her; you may be surprised to learn how many individuals in the US are considered “plus” size by modern sizing standards. Along the way, Andrea overcame challenges, championed body positivity, and saw the impact of her voice in helping all bodies feel valued and represented in stores. From breaking barriers to finding self-acceptance, this conversation dives deep into the importance of embracing individuality and building a more inclusive world. Don’t miss out on this empowering episode.
Voted by Outside Business Journal as one of 2022’s Twenty Most Influential People in the Outdoor Industry, Andrea Kelly has been championing Size Inclusion in the apparel industry for 12 years.
Her efforts, expertise, and experience not only doubled the revenue for the Inclusive Sizes program at her former employer, but has also positioned her to serve on various industry panels, keynotes, podcasts, and magazine articles. In May of this year, she launched an advising consultancy, Make Plus Equal, to help outdoor apparel brands become more size-inclusive in their product offerings and media representation.
She is mom to an 18-year-old son who’s heading off to college in the fall and has lived in Portland, Oregon over 30 years.
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Diane Schroeder [00:00:00]
Welcome to The Fire Inside Her podcast. I'm your host, Diane Schroeder, inviting you to kick back, relax, and join myself and other travelers on the journey to authenticity. You are in a safe space to open your heart and mind, soak in inspiration, soak up wisdom, and feel all the feels. Let's get started as we stoke the flames of your authentic self.
Diane Schroeder [00:00:37]
Hi, friends. Before I introduce this week's guest, I just wanted to let you know that the community I've been working so hard on creating is launched. The Fiery Souls community is for spirited and adventurous, middle-aged women who want to explore the magic of self-care rituals to ignite our souls so that we can build capacity in our lives and live authentically with purpose and joy. Head on over to TheFireInsideHer.com/community for more information. Okay.
Diane Schroeder [00:01:17]
Have you ever been curious about what percentage of women in the US are size 14 plus? Or, what the average size of a US woman is? I was shocked to hear the results and the answers to these questions from my guest this week, Andrea Kelly. My top favorite three things about Andrea is that number 1, she is absolutely hilarious and very kind. She recently started her own advising consultancy business and she was voted by Outdoor Business as one of 2022’s most influential people in the outdoor industry. Andrea simply is a badass. She is a trailblazer in the world of outdoor apparel, and she's here to share her journey of breaking barriers and creating inclusivity in an industry dominated not only by men, but by smaller sizes. From her early years of wearing ill-fitting clothes to her groundbreaking work at Columbia Sportswear, Andrea has taken on challenges head on to ensure that everyone, regardless of their size, deals comfortable and confident while exploring the great outdoors. We dive into her experiences, the power of using her voice, and the incredible impact she's making through her new organization, Make Plus Equal. So, grab your headphones and get ready to be inspired by Andrea's story of empowerment and self-acceptance. Welcome, Andrea Kelly, my new friend from the Pacific Northwest. How are you doing today?
Andrea Kelly [00:03:12]
I'm great. I'm happy to be here.
Diane Schroeder [00:03:14]
I'm so happy that you're here. And our random question of the day is, are you a hot sauce person?
Andrea Kelly [00:03:24]
I'm a mild sauce person. I like a little Tabasco in anything creamy. So, like, I'll put a little splash of Tabasco in clam chowder or sometimes in chicken noodle, if it needs a little mmm, but I'm not globey globee, this isn't a hot one's interview, is it?
Diane Schroeder [00:03:43]
Andrea Kelly [00:03:45]
Diane Schroeder [00:03:46]
I mean, we could make it that. I'm just like, you know, on the flame, they give the little flame indicator of how hot hot sauce is. And I'm pretty, like, between a 2 and a 3. I'll be honest.
Andrea Kelly [00:03:58]
Yeah. I'm there too. I think when I eat Thai food, I usually say mild and it's perfect.
Diane Schroeder [00:04:03]
Yes. When I worked several years ago, for my former fire department, and there was this amazing Thai food restaurant. And it was like the soup Nazi from Seinfeld you couldn't just go in and order. You'd have to call ahead, and she'd ask what type of spice you wanted. And I'd be like, regular spice. She's like, no, no, no. You get baby spice. Baby spice is going to be spicy enough. And so, I always think of that. Like, Okay. And baby spice was a good sweat. So, I would sometimes do no spice, and it was still pretty spicy, so.
Andrea Kelly [00:04:38]
Well, and I think coming from your background, from your industry at calling anything like 3 alarm hot, rings a little different to you probably.
Diane Schroeder [00:04:48]
It sure does. And, you know, my digestive system is just not built to handle that. I'll be quite honest. Anyway, I am so excited to talk to you, and I think I say that to every guest. So, it just makes me a really excited person. But we chatted last week. We were introduced by a mutual friend who just thought we would click and he was absolutely right.
Andrea Kelly [00:05:13]
Diane Schroeder [00:05:14]
What I'm so excited for you to share with my listeners is about who you are and your latest adventure and what you believe in. And I just, I want you to say it because I can gush all over how important it is when it comes to body image, but you just let us have it. Tell us about you.
Andrea Kelly [00:05:40]
Sure. So, as you mentioned, I live in the Pacific Northwest. I'm up in Portland, Oregon. I've been here for about 30 years. And I grew up in Southern California, which is where our mutual friend lived. That's where we met. I'm growing up in Southern California. I grew up at the beach. I spend my weekends in the water. That was what we always did. We didn't really camp or backpack or hike or any of those things. So, when I moved to Portland, obviously, there was a whole different type of recreation here, and I got really engaged in basically what's out in our backyard. We have the Columbia River Gorge here, which is a beautiful place for hikes. We have Mount Hood an hour a half away. Obviously, we have the coast, which is very different than the beach, lakes, and rivers, and streams, and forests, and such diverse outdoor experiences compared to what we had in Southern California. So, I quickly got involved in rafting and hiking and took mountain classes and actually climbed a couple of mountains. And what was interesting is at the time when I started doing all of that stuff, I was a fairly slim, young woman. I was leaning into my dad's tall skinny genetics. And but over time, I ended up leaning towards mom's genetics, which were a little shorter and squatter. And, eventually, my career ended up taking me sort of through the back door into the apparel industry of a psychology degree. I didn't go to fashion school. I never wanted to be a designer. I was actually a systems geek and a nerdy girl with social skills. So, I actually had gotten into high-tech. I was doing software training, and at the time, Nike was looking for someone to come in and learn their systems and train all of their staff on the tools they needed to use to build outdoor apparel, well, all apparel, actually. So, I ended up training at Nike for about a year and then decided I really did want to get involved in product because anybody who's outside doing things in gear always has an idea of how it could be better, right? Never good enough. There's always room for improvement. So, I ended up joining the ACG team, which stands for All Conditions Gear, all the things you would do outside in any condition. And I started as a product developer in, you know, nutshell. Basically, that means taking the 2-dimensional sketch from the designer and working with factories overseas to turn it into a 3D garment or sample for testing. So, that was my role for a few years in ACG, but the challenge was while I was there, I'd become a mom. Genetics were shifting. I was getting bigger in my body, but I'm still doing all the things I'd love to do, but the problem was I wasn't able to fit in any of the product that I made. So, even though I got a great corporate discount, it didn't really do me any good unless I wanted to buy the men's version. So, I wore lots of men's gear, which doesn't quite fit the same, which means it doesn't quite perform the same. There are limitations, but that was sort of the only option. I was at Nike for 6 years, my family, and I moved down to Southern California again for a while down to San Diego, and I worked for DC shoes for a while. I worked about 5 years, and I was part of the development team for their outdoor gear line also, so they have skateboarding, obviously, that everybody knows about. But they have a very competitive business in snowboarding as well. So, I moved down to Southern California. I did product development for DC shoes on their snowboard gear, and my boss was great. It was a really small organization. So, every year, she'd offered to buy a siege of the kit so I could pick out a snowboard pant and a snowboard jacket for the season. I could buy the latest stuff. It was super great. But, again, I couldn't wear the women's stuff. It didn't fit me. So, what was really nice and the fact that we were such a small company is we were close with a factory, and they'd say, okay. Well, pick the best fitting “men's garments” that we have, but we're happy to put it in the women's fabrics for you. So, I at least got to look like a woman because I got to wear, like, the seasonal floral or the cool new plaid, but I'm the only one who knew that it was actually a men's jacket. So, it was custom, but, again, it didn't fit great. And I knew that it was a compromise, so may do. It was fine. I moved back to Oregon in 2011 and joined Columbia Sportswear as a product developer, again, working on outerwear. And to my surprise, I didn't even know that Columbia Sportswear made plus size product or big intel product. I had no idea. So, as I'm talking to somebody in the interview, I'm, like, poking around on the website, like, I hadn't even planned on interviewing with them. I was coming up for another interview. And I was like, I should probably call somebody else, and somebody gave me a name, and they were like, where have you been? We have been looking for a seasoned developer for 6 months. Get in here. So, I was poking around on the website, and I was like, holy shit. They have plus sizes. Oh my god. I could actually wear what I make. How amazing to, like, wear what I worked on for 16 months a year with pride that, like, I did this. And people that I knew, my plus-size friends, my family, my cousins, like, everybody could actually wear the stuff that I worked on. So, that was pretty spectacular. I was in product development with Columbia for 3 years. So, if you're keeping track at home, that's 15 years of product development. And then I moved to the merchant team, which in the path of how product is made. The product line managers are the ones who determine what the business process is going to be, what the goals are for the season, how we're going to achieve those goals. And what that means is, what are we going to make to sell, to hit those goals? So, I was sort of at the front end of the business saying, okay. Here's what the goals are. Here are the products we need. We need a jacket that competes with this competitor at this price point, we need one jacket that features this new fabric we've developed and then sent that information off to the designers. They did their sketching, then they passed it on to development and so on and so on. So, all of a sudden, I was at the beginning of the business, and I actually had the opportunity to get some direction on what we were building. And at the same time that I joined the merchandising team, it gave me a lot of access to consumer insights and customer data and market data that I didn't have visibility to as a product developer. It wasn't a job, but one of the things that came out through is a group called Circana, and they are a market research group that specializes in the outdoor industry and consumer goods that tells you, like, the top 5 selling jackets and the number one blah, blah in the marketplace. And so, we used a lot of that information to sort of gauge our direction. And in 2015, they came out with an article that stated 69% of women in North America were size 14 and up which is considered to be a plus size. I will repeat that. 69% of women in North America are plus sized. Which are most women. It's actually the majority. And I get chills every time I say it, I just got chills now. So, to me, as a person who'd been plus sized, who'd been settling, who'd been wearing men's stuff forever, I was like, wait a minute. I'm not niche. I'm actually the majority. Like, what, there's some funky math going on here. Like, you know, math is not always my strongest skill, but there's a problem there. And if you look now at the stats, I think 8% of apparel brands in the United States manufactured plus sizes. That’s it.
Diane Schroeder [00:12:50]
So, 70% of their customer base on the female demographic, which is 50% of the population, only 8% of brands are catering to that. And I think, with plus size, so it's the conditioning we've been through our entire life because size 14, size 12, 16, that's not in my brain. That's not plus size.
Andrea Kelly [00:13:17]
Diane Schroeder [00:13:17]
But I understand in the fashion industry it is, and I think we are so conditioned that we have to be a single digit number and that's just not reality.
Andrea Kelly [00:13:27]
Well, the average sized woman right now is a size 20 to 22. Average.
Diane Schroeder [00:13:34]
Andrea Kelly [00:13:36]
So, yeah, so that information that came to me personally was like, holy cow. I'm not alone. Like, I'm the norm, actually. So, you know, then I started, like, fist waving it, goddamn these companies who are treating us terribly and not representing us. And then I was like, wait, what do I do for a living? Oh, shit. I work for these companies. And not like as an accountant.
Diane Schroeder [00:13:59]
You are them.
Andrea Kelly [00:14:01]
Ah, yes. I'm like, goddamn us. Wait. Uh-oh. So, I pitched an idea to the executive staff. We have this, they still do this at Columbia. They have, like, a shark tank week, or they call it design tank now where designers come in and they do a whole presentation and you get 6 minutes and there's a timer and it's a party and it's fun, but the idea was to get ideas going to, like, decide what mission was going to be for the next season. And it could be, like, purple is the new black. It could be, we're going to build hammocks. It could be anything. And I came in with a pitch about, you know, what we had this mantra of winning with women. And I was like, well, I hate to tell you, but if you want to win with women, these are the women you need to win with because they're the majority of the business. I told them a lot of stories of my own, of what it was like to be a plus sized person in the outdoors, a series of stories of other people who had had those experiences, talked a lot about the stigma around being plus sizes and the assumption that people who are in bigger bodies are lazy and don't care about their health. And then I talked to them about the market and how many people are really waiting for this stuff and I showed them the money, and they're like, all those reasons, this is a really good thing. Yeah. You should probably get on that. So, I took on managing our men's big and tall product for both outerwear and sportswear and our women's product for outerwear and sportswear and plus sizes on top of my full-time job.
Diane Schroeder [00:15:25]
Well, that's a little bit.
Andrea Kelly [00:15:26]
Yeah. So, it's a good thing. I was really passionate about it. Let's just say that. And, you know, there's a lot of back and forth throughout the season of, like, much time they wanted me to focus on it, and then they weren't really sure, and then they wanted me to focus on this instead of that. So, there was a lot of back and forth over the years. But I had always had this goal, like, so my idea, my pitch to them was to change the outdoor apparel industry from the inside out. Like, there's a zillion influencers and ton of them that I respect so much are really making way and making change. But the fact that I was already, like, in the middle of the industry, and I know what the challenges are from a corporation point of view, like, I know what they're going to push back on. I know what they're afraid of. I know how to help them. Like, I can do this from the note. So, I started doing that. And then in 2020, my goal had always been for them to break it off as its own business unit, all of our inclusive sizes. And in 2020, they actually did that. And we had a reorganization in the middle of COVID, and I was looking at the chart for the team that I was always on. I'm like, wait a minute. Why is my name not with all those names? Oh, but I'm still reporting to what's this box over here? And I was like, oh, inclusive sizes. They built me my dream job, and they were like, I said, well, what are the targets? What are the goals? And they're like, run it. You tell us what we need to do. We'll see if we can make it happen. It was like, no. It's arrived. So, that started, so, that started in 2020. Over the course of the years before that position had even become available, I was focusing primarily on building more product because when I started at Columbia, less than 20% of everything we made in women's product was offered at plus, which is great, if you're used to nothing. But that's also why I was still wearing men's snowboard pants because we didn't make everything in plus. So, my goal was always, you know, if 69% of women are wearing plus sizes, then 69% of our products should come in their size. And I would say, before I left, we got pretty close to that number. But the challenge was because I was managing it in addition to a real job, I could only pay so much attention to it. So, at that time, in the early days, I was focusing primarily on, let's get people more products so they have more choice. So they can find what fits them, so they can find their price points, so they have the option to choose. And I had some pushback early on. I was like, well, okay. Well, you grew the size offering by 40%, but we've seen no revenue. And I was like, did we tell anybody we were doing it? Because that's not my job. Right? Like, I built you the product, but, like, if we don't get marketing involved and if we don't get retail involved, and we don't get social media involved, like, if somebody walks past the store knowing that they don't serve them, why would they one day magically go into the store for shits and giggles? Like, you have to communicate that it's happening.
Diane Schroeder [00:18:06]
Right. Because it's frustrating, right? You go into a store and you know that, man, I can't go in there. Nothing is going to be in my size, and it's humiliating. And tomorrow,
Andrea Kelly [00:18:14]
I’ll buy a hat.
Diane Schroeder [00:18:15]
I think so,
Andrea Kelly [00:18:15]
Diane Schroeder [00:18:16]
Yeah. Yeah. I have a lot of hats.
Andrea Kelly [00:18:17]
I do, I do too. I don't wear them, which is ironic, but I have them. So, with this new role that got created because they took me off of the full-time job and made this my full-time job. Not only could I continue working on the assortments, but I could spend time talking to the designers and giving them some insights on considerations to keep in mind if you're building this product and it's going to be for all bodies. I could work with social media, and talked to them about influencers that I recommended them working with, and I got to host Instagram lives. I can't believe they gave me the password to the 1938 account in Colombia and, like, let me loose on the line. It's crazy. This has, like, given me the code to the nukes, like, but I got to do some really amazing things. I got to work with a retail team. I got to work with our E-comm team to really encourage them and give them an education to get the message out. And in the time before the job became the full-time job, we'd already doubled the revenue for inclusive sizes. People have been waiting for brands to pay attention to them and honor them and serve them. So, I was in that role up until May of this past year. I decided to branch out on my own. So, my goal was to change the industry from the inside out, which I am really proud of the work that we did at Columbia, but Columbia is just one brand. And if Columbia is not your brand or they don't fit your body exactly or you don't like the colors they came out with this season, you should be able to go to another brand and of choice. So, I founded with somebody called Make Plus Equal, which is interesting because we've talked about 69% of women being size, and men too, the number is roughly the same for men. So, in theory, we should be the majority. Like, somebody asked me once on a podcast, what would your dream be? And I said, well, if for the majority, it would be amazing to walk into a Macy's or a Dillard's or whatever your local department store is. And the majority of the store be plus sized. And then in the tiny back corner, you had straight sizes. Now, I don't want that. All bodies are good bodies. I just want us to be equal. And that's where the name came from. Make Plus Equal. Instead of us being marginalized and shoved in a corner and thought of his niche, we do all the same things that everybody else does. The shape of the vessel that we are in tells you nothing about our health, and even if it does, it's really none of your business. So, we just want to be treated equal. That's where the name of the company came from. And the role of this organization, this advisory consultancy that I have is to help outdoor apparel companies become more comfortable in serving bodies that they're not used to. They're so used to the norm, the straight size, the thin, that they get nervous. They don't want to piss people off. They don't want to hurt people's feelings. It's a risk because they're not comfortable, even though it's the majority of consumers, they're still, you know, doing something new is challenging. So, because I come as a plus sized person who's had these experiences, and from the community of people who have all had these experiences, I can give the consumer insights that they need. I can connect them with more people if they need that. But I've also come from inside the apparel where I know about costing and in construction and in design and marketing. And I've spanned the gamut and everything that I've done at Columbia Sportswear, and I want to bring that knowledge to other companies, big or small, to either get them started or help them stay on course with serving people of all shapes and sizes so everybody can get outside.
Diane Schroeder [00:21:42]
Thank you for sharing your journey. And I just have to say, bravo. I am so freaking excited and like, it's blown my mind. I can't stop thinking about it since we first chatted last week because I'm like, oh my gosh, just the numbers and the data. And as someone who has spent, I spent over half my life in a 96% male dominated profession where I had to wear male uniforms and bunker gear didn't really fit. And because I'm more athletic and a little bit bigger than some of the other women that I worked with, I really felt bad for them. So, I think, you know, starting somewhere with outdoor apparel, because that is so true. I can think of times back in my life where I was like, I'd try to buy something, and it wouldn't fit. And I, too, okay. Well, I'm used to wearing dude’s pants, so I just buy men's pants, and it doesn't really fit the same. And it takes a lot of that. I think for me, it really took a lot of the feminine out of my life because I felt just that more masculine apparel and, like, for some reason, those subtle and really not so subtle messages and influences that I was not enough. I was too much of something or not enough of something else, and I just, I couldn't be, like you said, outdoorsy, but I was. And it just wasn't celebrated. And I love that it seems to go in waves that more industries and beauty industry and fashion industry is like celebrating all body types and making it more inclusive. But it still has a long way to go. And so, you have a great, great opportunity to change not only the physical clothes, but the mindset and the conversation.
Andrea Kelly [00:23:31]
Yeah. Well, and it's interesting too because I started focusing on this in 2015 when that news came out. And I remember thinking about, you know, at some point, I'm going to do a consultancy. I had actually started talking to some people, you know, working on branding, everything before the pandemic, and then the pandemic came. And I thought, oh, you know, I pretty much like getting a paycheck every 2 weeks. I think I'm just going to ride this out, and it's great that I did because that's when they gave me the new role. I'm like, this is perfect. This is great, but I was worried that I'd left my former employer. I'm like, did I miss the wave? Cause a lot of brands have come to the table now. A lot of small brands, I'm like, I'm going to the wave. I'm going to miss the wave. And I got here and I'm like, oh, this wave isn't stopping. It's a tsunami. Like, if there's so much work to still be done, so much work to still be done. And I am over the moon that there are so many brands out there now that are coming to the table, and staying at the table. That's the other thing that's been really tricky. And, and part of the reason also why I'm doing what I'm doing is I've seen a lot of brands who are like, we're all in. We're going to do this, and they try it for the year. And they're like, shit. This is hard. We're out. Like, I understand that from a corporate point of view, but I also know, like, building a business takes time. But if you look at the flip side of that, the customers who are so excited that you're finally doing it, when you pull the plug, that says to them, you're not worth the effort.
Diane Schroeder [00:24:54]
Mhmm. Which feeds to,
Andrea Kelly [00:24:55]
Yeah. Which feeds to, this world isn't built for you?
Diane Schroeder [00:24:58]
Yes. So, if I can ask you how has your work impacted your self-esteem and kind of your vision of yourself and not saying that you had poor self-esteem to begin with, but has it been empowering and kind of, like, just how has it changed you?
Andrea Kelly [00:25:17]
I am grateful for the role that I played at Columbia. I am grateful for the people that I work with, the Columbia, for the most part, the folks that I work with were all about improvement and growth. Columbia's mantra is connecting people with their passions. And as an advertising slogan, that's more like we want to get you out in the woods or whatever, which is valuable, but it also sort of applied in house. Like, the man voted me into this position knew what I cared about. He was the one who green flagged it and made this role for me, and seeing my ability to take a risk with something that I believed in and actually have it come to fruition, it was like, holy shit. My voice works. I can speak up, and I can make change. And it's interesting. I have an eighteen-year-old kid living in my house right now who's convinced that anything he does in the world doesn't matter because he's just one person, like, have you watched my career? Like, your voice does matter. And I and, you know, everybody says, like, speak up even if your voice shakes. My voice is shaking a few times, but the fact that I was able to bring a change to an eighty-five-year-old white male dominated company, it’s a big ship to turn. And the fact that I came to them with a business opportunity, and they were completely aligned with it, I was like, I can get some shit done. And what's interesting is that, that changed my perspective in my personal life too about using my voice. I think at the time, I was in really messy sort of relationship, and it wasn't healthy. And I was like, you know what? If I can make these changes by speaking up and standing up for myself at the office, then, you know what? I can do that in my personal life too, and I got out of this toxic relationship, and I think that taking the risk and having that success has definitely had him have impacted his, I mean, I was pretty confident to begin with, but that just boosted it beyond belief. And I think the other piece that comes with it, you know, I've been doing this for a really long time, so I'm really not afraid of failure. Failure is just another way to learn. I've been bobbing and weaving all my life and figuring stuff out. I'm an amazing problem solver. So, the confidence helps with that. And then I think the other pieces, you know, I'm in my fifties. I kind of don't give a shit about things anymore. Right? So, you know, I've been on some threads on Instagram this past week where there are some hateful, hateful people, coming for plus size people on brands that are advertising their stuff. And I was like, you know, I have a reputation. I'm trying to maintain here, but every now and then I'll get in with clap back, but think what you want. This is my body. This is my choice. This is my life. And so, it's sort of all connected, but I will say for those of you who are younger, fifties is this shit, because you just kind of don't care anymore. It's great. It's pretty great.
Diane Schroeder [00:28:02]
Oh, yeah. You know, I'm getting closer to 50. I have a birthday coming up pretty soon. And so, I'm definitely on the sidewalk knocking on 50s door. And I see that. And when I hear you talk, you know, I have all these, I have goosebumps. And I'm just like, yes. Let's dominate the world. And also, I don't believe that you can separate personal from professional. And it's kind of a, you know, you can be thriving in one and not thriving in the other, but that's not sustainable. And really what happens is, like you said, you change.
Andrea Kelly [00:28:35]
Right. For sure. For sure. I think what you said about not being able to separate it, like, you can't separate the personal from the professional. And I think that through, if you're passionate about the professional, if you're clocking in 9 to 5, don't give a rat's ass. Yes. You can certainly do it, but this is what drives me. So, yes, it's all in one. It's who I am, and that's what I stand for. And I'm sure my friends are tired of hearing me talk about it. Because it's what makes my heart beat. You know?
Diane Schroeder [00:29:05]
Yes. And you can hear it in your voice and you can sense it in your energy. And I do think even if you're phoning it in professionally and you're just clocking in and you're just doing the bare minimum, no judgment in that because people do that. You have to pay bills, but I think they're also holding themselves back to some extent because there's so much out there, this infinite possibility of impacting the world. Like you said, one person can do that, that, you know, tapping into what are you passionate about and how can you translate that to bring, you know, we only get this one life and the beauty of being in the middle of life and headed towards the other side of it is, you don't give a shit about a lot of things. You realize things that you worried about so much and spent so much time focusing on her, like, the tiny things. So, you might as well make the rest of it matter.
Andrea Kelly [00:29:54]
Exactly. I hate being cliche, but, like, seriously don't sweat the small stuff. Like, some shit just doesn't matter anymore.
Diane Schroeder [00:30:01]
Right. So, how do you find time to take care of yourself with being so passionate and now being really busy doing your own thing because, you know, we, as being an entrepreneur, is a lot of hard work. And how do you carve out time to make sure you're showing up for yourself as well.
Andrea Kelly [00:30:21]
Well, I will tell you it's this experience of working for myself is very different from being in the corporate world, which is where I've been since I left college. So, you know, 30 years in corporate to now, like, me sitting in my office, sitting in my little house, looking out in the backyard is, I got a taste of that during the pandemic, obviously, when we were working remote, but my time is definitely more flexible. I'm not in the way that my last role, they weren't crazy about, you clock-in at 8 and you leave at 5 and you, it was never like that. It was obviously a very comfortable workplace to be, but now, you know, the meetings I have for the people that I need to be with and the time that I spend working is for something in particular, and I have more freedom to do what I want with my schedule. You know, my kid just got his wisdom teeth taken out Monday, and I got to spend all day on the couch with him nursing in with all the things because I didn't have 27 meetings that I had to be in. So, there's definitely flexibility in working for myself. If there's a day that I know that I need to run errands, first of all, that's part of my job now. You know, I think, oh, did I get enough done today? Well, I spent 2 hours at the bank setting up checking accounts for the business. That's a job too. So, my responsibilities definitely look different, and my schedule looks different. If I want to meet a friend for coffee, I work later in the night. And, you know, the work is not 8 hours of crawling work every single day. It sorts of ebbs and flows. So, there's a lot more flexibility and a lot more freedom and breath in working for myself and not being at a corporation. That makes it easy to build in things like, taking a walk or running down and working from the coffee shop. If I feel like doing that or sitting out in my backyard and working there and I think it's probably very similar to what a lot of us experience working from home during the pandemic. It's just that that's my whole job right now for the time being until it starts, you know, traveling to clients and doing some of those things.
Diane Schroeder [00:32:14]
Which sounds exciting. Yeah. You know, I never stopped working during the pandemic because we couldn't. So, essentially, my life really didn't change. I still went to work for 48 hours at a time. Except for when I came home, it was, I now was a teacher with a very upset 2nd grader. And, you know, it's funny because he would tell me I was the worst teacher in the world and that I and I was like, good because I don't want to be. I'm glad I'm not good at it.
Andrea Kelly [00:32:45]
I'm glad I'm not succeeding at this. That's perfect.
Diane Schroeder [00:32:48]
Exactly. But I think now it really, it's taken me the last 3 months to really kind of this freedom and this time and trying not to do too much, or am I doing enough, like you said, has really been a lot more challenging because I'm such a structure-oriented person.
Andrea Kelly [00:33:06]
Yeah. Where are your processes now, young lady?
Diane Schroeder [00:33:12]
Right. I'm like, ah, what do I do now? And when do I, you know, so I do agree with you that scheduling the time and the flexibility is beautiful. The other thing that I'm learning is to really set boundaries and say no. Because I want to help everyone and I want to do so much for everyone else that I have to pause and say, is this part of what really is moving me forward. And I think that's probably sage advice for everyone regardless of what you're doing, like, is that boundary because that leads of self-care and some freedom, even if you don't own your own business. What do you think about that?
Andrea Kelly [00:33:50]
Yeah. So, I mean, boundaries are huge. I got that coming out of the relationship that I mentioned boundaries are key. And from a business point of view, from a personal point of view, there are things that are just not acceptable anymore. You know, in the past couple of years, this is something that happens as you approach your fifties too is I've had friendships that we let dissolve because they don't, they serve me sounds kind of crass, but for what I'm giving out, there's certain things that I need back in relationships, and there's been a lot of boundaries where I'm like, you know, what? That isn't working for what I need in my life right now. So, yeah, I've seen that a lot more in personal, like, friendships and relationships as of late from a boundaries point of view. We'll see how it goes with the business. Some of the clients that approach me because I've got some values that I'm really sticking to, and I'm going to be pretty particular about who I work with because I get to do that. I get to decide who I invited in my life. Right? So, yeah, I think boundaries are key, and I think that's where the whole, like, I'm fifty now. I don't really give a shit about, like, that's a wall right there. Yeah. I get to build those boundaries.
Diane Schroeder [00:34:56]
Man, that's really powerful when you say that about friendships because they do change. Your personal relationships change and I wonder if, you know, because when you have a personal relationship, friendship, whatever, people expect something, you know, it's a relationship. So, it's give and take on both ends, but when you start to change and you start to step into a different space or start your own business or whatever it is, you may make other people uncomfortable,
Andrea Kelly [00:35:24]
or they do.
Diane Schroeder [00:35:25]
Or they do, right? Like, it happens, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I think every relationship can teach you something and it's still important for me and some of my friendships that have changed over the years is to grieve that and to wish them well and try not to have any hard feelings. It's just kind of weird. You know, who you spend your time with really influences how you live your life.
Andrea Kelly [00:35:47]
Yeah. For sure. Because of the energy that it creates. Right? And I'd gotten to a place where these relationships that I had where the energy was not healthy. Had to Marie Kondo some stuff. Right? Let go with love. Release with love. I have a friend who used to say that all the time. Release with love.
Diane Schroeder [00:36:05]
I love that. As I'm sitting in my closet, you know, I can look around. I'm like, I need to Marie Kondo. The heck out of my closet now. But, anyway, is it exhausting and how do you refill your cup when the conversation about making size inclusive in organizations, do you ever get exhausted? And when you get to that point, what sets you back grounds you again to be like, nope. This is what I need to do. Because this is for the good of the grader.
Andrea Kelly [00:36:34]
You know, unfortunate that I haven't gotten to that point yet because I absolutely love what I do. And I care about what I do. And I, and I've been doing it long enough that I see brands out there and, like, come on, I believe in you. You guys can do this. You're so close, and I know that I have the opportunity to help them. I have not gotten fatigued by what I do yet. I think if anything where I need to refill my cup, is with parenting. For god's sakes. I have an eighteen-year-old who's convinced he's an adult, except he's terrified about the responsibility of being an adult and he's not ready. So, we're navigating that fun little thing, but, yeah, I mean, there are a lot of things that I do to refill my cup. As I mentioned, the Pacific Northwest is great for being outside. I have a great group of friends, and we camp pretty regularly one to two times a month during the summer. So, we just get outside and sit in the sun and soak our feet in the river and throw in a hike and spend a lot of time in my backyard. One of the little treats that I did for myself this year. I have this great patio. Some of the ways I recharge, I'm a napper. I love taking a nap, and I have this great patio. And I have a sliding glass door to my bedroom so I can have the window open like, but I want too really just be outside. And I went, and I have, you know, lounge chairs and patio furniture, but nothing really particularly comfortable. And I just went and bought, like, a double wide lounger. And I just sit out in the backyard now under the patio with my cat next to me, and I can literally smell the roses and hear the wind in the trees, and I can do that whenever I want. Like, I could pick up my laptop, or we could be recording from out there, but I don't, then you'd have to listen to the crows, so we're not doing that. They're obnoxious. So, outside is really, really important to me. The fresh air is important to me. I think because I grew up in Southern California, salt air just resets my brain. So, every now and then, I'll take a trip out to the Oregon coast regardless of the weather, which my California parents do not understand. I'm like, you'll never get it. It's in this thing. But just the salt air and the breeze, just it sort of grounds me too. So, being outside is one of my best ways to reset for sure.
Diane Schroeder [00:38:44]
I love that. What advice, what would you tell the people listening to this episode, do you have any advice towards loving yourself? Regardless of what size you are, regardless of what size you used to be, regardless of where you are now in life, do you have any words of wisdom to kind of help accept and love your body?
Andrea Kelly [00:39:10]
You know, it's a tricky one. I think if I could give the right advice for that, I might win the Nobel Peace Prize, frankly. Cause I know it's something we all struggle with, and I don't think the answer comes from the outside. It comes from within. I mean, I want to tell everybody all the cliche things that we all hear, like, your body is a vessel. You are so much more than what you look like on the outside. Don't judge a book by its cover. All of the things that we know and love, but it's something that I think each of us has to go inside and find and how you get that if it's alone time, if it's being with people who support you, if it's meditating or journaling or whatever, it's something that you have to unlock on your own, and the key, unfortunately, is different for every single person. Sometimes it's therapy, sometimes it's life experiences, sometimes it's travel, and seeing different people in different places and different environments to sort of expand your horizons and your belief about what the norm actually is. You know, I would hope that that, that 69% fact that we talked about is this life changing for other people as it was for me. I mean, that was a huge eye opener, and that really just shifted my perspective. So, as much as I'd like to give advice, it's going to be different for every single person. There's a great quote that I'm going to screw up, but it's something that I posted on the Make Plus Equal Instagram about, you know, when we're out in nature, all the trees and all the plants and all the flora and fauna are all different shapes and sizes and colors, and we love it because that's what's expected. So, why don't we see that about ourselves? We're nature, too.
Diane Schroeder [00:40:47]
That is beautiful. That is perfect advice. Thank you for that wisdom.
Andrea Kelly [00:40:52]
Why don't we hold that same expectation to ourselves? That we give the rest of mother nature.
Diane Schroeder [00:40:56]
That is a mic drop statement, I believe. And one of the things you told me was curate your social media feeds. If you're going to get on social media, don't follow people that make you feel bad about yourself. Whether it's politically, spiritually, religiously, physically, fashion wise, like, don't do it. So, you can take that out of your carousel and stop beating yourself up for a photo that's been, you know, retouched and imaged and everything else. So, that's a practical step, but I think you're right. It comes from the inside. And, you know, I always say you cannot outrun the work, and it is hard. And even when you're in the middle of the mess, you've got to go through it to get to the other side, or you're still just going to be floating in the mess for a while.
Andrea Kelly [00:41:44]
Exactly. Exactly. And, I mean, if we want to talk about the middle of the mess, someday, we should do another podcast about parenting because I've seen some shit, and I've made it through. So, yeah, I mean, this time in our lives is a lot. So, having your network and having your people and your sisterhood and your family and the people who have your back is so important. And even if that, if your community is an online community, that matters. I mean, I remember, and I don't think it was you. I think somebody else asked me, like, what do you do when you see all these thin Photoshop, blah, blah, blah. I'm like, I don't see them. And they were like, how do you not see them? I'm like, I don't follow them. And they were like, oh, well, you can curate that, but I think with this time in our FC, you know, we all hear it takes a village, and it sounds so trite, but it really does. And I have certain friends in my circle that I call for some things and certain trends that I call in my circle for different things. And, you know, it's nice to have diversity in your friendships and relationships. If you get through the mess, whether the name of the answers or not, it's nice to have a hearty team around you. And I'm grateful for mine if they're listening.
Diane Schroeder [00:42:55]
Yes. Absolutely. And likewise, I'm really grateful. And I realized probably in the last couple years, just how important and crucial my community and my people are. And I guess what I tell myself is, man, if it's important for me, it's probably important for everyone else too. Because it's really easy to lose sight of that need for community, especially in a post COVID world. I think that was very eye opening. You know, when people became very isolated and I'm like, oh, wait. No. We need to change this. We need to have a community, like a genuine community, not a, oh, I feel connected because I've seen pictures of you, but no. A way to interact even if, like you said, if it is virtual or online to create that. Well, Andrea, thank you so much for sharing your story and you know, we didn't really specifically talk about leadership, but I just got to say, girl, you are a badass and you are leading this powerful, important movement, and I'm so grateful that you have the courage and the passion to do it. And to make such incredible change in the world. So, kudos to you. Thank you. Thank you on behalf of all women and just you know, thank you.
Andrea Kelly [00:44:10]
Diane Schroeder [00:44:11]
Thank you so much. And I would love to have you back.
Andrea Kelly [00:44:14]
Yeah. I think that'd be well, and we're going to talk outside of this anyway because, girl, we're friends now. So, it's a requirement. But, yeah, I am, thank you. I appreciate that. I am grateful that I found my calling. I think, it's hard. You don't always know what your passion is, and this just happened, like, the planets aligned or the timing was right or whatever. And it hit me at the right time, and I'm grateful to have the confidence and the risk taking to try something new and scary and different, but the fact that I believe how important it is and the community that I'm part of drives me to make it a better place. And, you know, and I also want to set an example for my son that, you know, one voice does matter, and change can be made. And it's important to make an effort. So, yeah, I'm kind of doing it for everybody.
Diane Schroeder [00:45:02]
Well, I love it. And I will put all of your contact information, Make Plus Equal, your website, your Instagram, where people can connect with you, and follow you and I am excited to see all the change you're going to make, and I'm excited to see more shopping options for myself down the road from outdoor apparel companies that are a little more feminine and, you know, that fit my body. And so, I thank you for that.
Andrea Kelly [00:45:28]
You're welcome. I will do my best.
Diane Schroeder [00:45:32]
Another great conversation. Thank you for giving the valuable gift of your time. And listening to The Fire Inside Her podcast. Speaking of value, one of the most common pot holes we fall into on the journey to authenticity is not recognizing our value. So, I created a workbook. It's all about value. Head on over to TheFireInsideHer.com/value to get your free workbook. That will help you remember your value. Until next time, my friend.