What kind of image comes to your mind, if you think of a young entrepreneur? Probably not a 19-year-old college dropout, am I right? But Ria Patag who graduated high school in 2020 is exactly that and so much more. She has already done what a lot of people dream of, she has founded her own business. Bolt Active is a fitness brand for young women. It focuses on empowering women to lift and be strong. Today, we are talking to Ria about her career, her advice for others, and the perception of women of color (WOC) in the fitness industry!
What does “career” mean to you?
To me, the difference between a career and a job is the mission. Jobs are to get extra money or pay the bills. A career is finding a way to monetize your passion. People usually classify careers as something that is financially sustainable, such as lawyer, dentist, teacher, etc. To me, if these people aren’t passionate about their work, it’s simply a job and not a career.
What did you want to become when you were younger?
I didn’t have one specific career that resonated growing up, but when people asked, I said different ones that seemed cool to me. Architect, journalist, actress were a few of my answers. The responses I gave were always related to creative fields rather than analytical fields. It’s interesting how this creative energy carried on into my career today.
What would you call your current job description and how did you get to where you are now?
What I do can be labeled many different things. I call myself an entrepreneur. At first, I was intimidated to use such a loaded word to describe myself, but that’s what I am. Business woman, founder, and other words are also applicable, but entrepreneur encapsulates who I am and the working style I have.
Would you rule out ever going to college again? If yes, why? If no, why?
I’ve ruled it out. The time commitment, the financial investment, and the return of investment aren’t worth it for me and the path I’d like to take.
Let’s Discuss: Womxn of Color in the Fitness Industry
You’ve started a fitness brand and said you perceive a gap for WOC in this industry – why and what can be done against this?
Women’s fitness is perceived to be limited to the 5lb dumbbells or the brisk jog. In society, strong is synonymous with manly. That’s where the fear of looking manly from lifting weights comes from. Girls can be strong, not “strong for a girl.” Just strong. This gap widens for WOC. Lots of influencers get to break this stigma with their platform- and that’s awesome! But they are typically white.
It’s hard to feel accepted in a space where you’re not represented. More and more fitness experts certified personal trainers, and more people generally need to speak about this gap to acknowledge it. It’s being taught. There is no such thing as “workouts for women” or “workouts for men”.
Have you encountered situations in your career where you felt that being a WOC has affected your career path (positively or negatively)? How do you handle these situations?
As a young WOC in business, a lot of people struggle to take me seriously. However, being a WOC gives me a different perspective, which I leverage! Anything can be a disadvantage, or an advantage, depending on how you look at it!
Tips for Other Young Womxn
2 tips for young womxn who are in the phase between school and starting a career:
- Balance is everything. Do not feel like you have to spend every second working your tail off. It will backfire and you will burn out. Work hard, but also live life. And stay 100% present in everything you do.
- Action faking is the sneakiest form of procrastination. Do not do silly “busy work” to avoid doing what you actually need to be doing.
2 things you wish you had known before starting your career:
- Put your customer first. It’s so painfully cliche but so true. Don’t sell what you think your market wants. Ask your market directly what they want.
- If something is not profitable, it’s not a business. It’s a hobby. If you’re not making money, something’s not working. Do something about it.
2 things you think young WOC need to hear at the start of their career:
- Due to cultural differences, it may be really difficult for you to venture into a different career space than what your parents prefer. Remember, it’s your life, and your parents will love you regardless. It’s okay to deviate from the norm.
- No one is as judgemental as you think they will be. What you’re doing is pretty impressive! If anyone is not supportive, that’s someone you don’t want in your life anyway.
Ria had an idea, or in her words a mission. She wanted to create activewear for women who lift. For her, a gap in the market that needs to be closed since a lot of women’s activewear brands only cater to runners or yogis. Women can run, do yoga or lift and so much more. Don’t let your fitness be defined by society but rather by whatever you choose for yourself.
If you want to read more about the different career paths you can take, make sure to check out our other articles:
- Why Your Age and Gender Should Never Stop You From Starting Your Own Business
- Why You Don’t Need to Study to Be Successful
- Dropping Out of University: Why It’s OK to Quit!
The interview was conducted and compiled by Ally.