Never Stop Conceptualizing : Amanda Sima

Meet Amanda Sima, “an entrepreneurial engine, constantly churning out ideas” and dedicated to enriching the lives others. Mother of three and focused woman boss, read about her journey to success and her remarkable growth.   What did you eat for...

Meet Amanda Sima, “an entrepreneurial engine, constantly churning out ideas” and dedicated to enriching the lives others. Mother of three and focused woman boss, read about her journey to success and her remarkable growth.

 

  • What did you eat for breakfast?
  • Peanut butter and honey toast and a cup of coffee!

 

  • What’s your workout?
  • Right now I’m recovering from child birth but, under normal circumstances, I try to get in an hour of spinning every day.

 

  • What picture is on your phone’s home screen? Share it with us.
  • A photo of Mila Kunis wearing an Alma Mater sweater:

 

  • Tell us about your work. What inspired you to start your business? Where did you start and where are you now?
  • I’m an idea person and I always knew one day I would invest in this strength by starting my own company.  My inspiration to start Alma Mater is my family and my desire to provide them not only with financial stability but the story behind that success as a first generation business owner.  I started with merely an idea and now we are a bi-coastal operation with offices in both Los Angeles and Columbus, 10 employees and selling in over 45 markets nationwide.

 

 

  • What do you see for your future?
  • I believe we’ll continue to see exponential growth and I think our next phase will be evaluating both merger and acquisition scenarios to grow even further.

 

  • How large is your business? How many employees do you have?
  • We are in the $1M-$10M range and have 10 employees.

 

  • Tell us a success story about funding your business.
  • I only pitched about 4 investors before we got our first yes, although at the time it seemed like an eternity to find that match.  I searched very far and wide, inquiring with companies and individuals across the country.  I was convinced that if I was going to have any shot at funding an apparel company that I’d have to find a way into the impenetrable angel investor scene in California or New York.  But by reaching out to a contact I had in Ohio for some fundraising advice, it led me to not only our funding source but the perfect partner right here in Columbus, Ohio.  This chance encounter turned investor relationship, to me, is truly divine intervention for our company and still has me convinced that we are on a path to great things.

 

  • What do you see as challenges for you and your business? What are some opportunities?
  • In our current state, our greatest challenge is keeping up with the growth.  Many entrepreneurs experience this, and it’s probably difficult for many to understand how, after beating ridiculous odds, that rapid growth can be a bad thing at all!  But it is true:  with growth comes even more forks in the road and more than ever you see the impact your decision making can have on the health of the company.  So at this stage, there is a very delicate balance between business prudence and aggressiveness.  The most exciting aspect of course with this growth comes more opportunities.  More than ever we have gained the ability to produce really innovative products in licensed team apparel which is very much an earned privilege in our industry.  Most fulfilling for me personally also is the continued ability to hire more people and create more jobs.  It’s very gratifying to me to be able to hire and invest in such talented people.

 

  • Tell us a story about a success in your business or a mistake you overcame?
  • The first success we experienced was gaining the license to sell Ohio State University apparel.  This is not only my alma mater but also one of the largest collegiate markets in the world and it was truly a turning point for our company.

 

  • What do you love about being an entrepreneur?
  • Working for yourself allows you to maximize your time and talents with very little constraints and the returns are direct results of that.  I love the rewards that come with taking on risk, working long hours and achieving goals.  I also love the idea of building a company that ultimately my daughters can run and call their own.

 

  • What about your business matters most deeply to you? How does it engage your values?
  • I would say what matters most deeply to me is the lives I can potentially affect of the people that work for me.  Financially I want them to be more successful than they would at any other company and rewarding them for the time and talent they bring to the growth of Alma Mater is a direct reflection of my values.

 

  • What would you say is your “entrepreneurial superpower?”
  • Definitely innovative ideas.  I am an entrepreneurial engine, constantly churning out ideas, whether it be for Alma Mater or new business concepts completely.

 

  • Who is the entrepreneur you admire most right now? Why does s/he inspire you?
  • Donald Trump.  His ascendancy to the presidency is probably the greatest modern example of the idea that entrepreneurs can achieve anything.

 

  • What’s the best and the worst thing about being an entrepreneur, as a woman?
  • As a woman in business, I’m definitely outnumbered but that actually plays to my advantage because often times women are underestimated.  So my accomplishments as a woman in business definitely carries weight and my runway for opportunity grows as a result of that.  The worst part is just that:  being a woman.  I’m also a wife and mother of three beautiful girls and balancing my domestic self with my professional one is extremely challenging.  This is something that men largely do not compete with, both externally and internally, and as a result it definitely gives them an upper hand.

 

  • Do you think male entrepreneurs are “different” from female entrepreneurs, and if so, how? If not, why not?
  • I believe people are born entrepreneurs first, and this does not discriminate based on gender.  We are all highly driven, creative thinkers, visionaries and endless believers.  I do think men and women tend to have different styles:  for example as leaders, the men I know are very married to their visions and averse to change while women are more amenable to pivoting strategies based on outside opinions.

 

  • What the best advice you ever got, and from whom?
  • Anyone who ever told me I wouldn’t make it or to give up.  It’s by far the most motivational advice for an entrepreneur.

Connect with Amanda Sima.

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