BY BLOG EDITOR LAUREN MAULDIN
Today’s equine entrepreneur has an incredible story behind how she founded her company, Benefab® by Sore-No-More®. Not only that, but she’s recently published her first book — how’s that for staying busy! Today, Kat Chrysostom, chats with us about her experience with far-infrared light therapy, process getting where she is today and passion to get up and work hard every day.
Growing up, did you dream of having your own company one day?
My father is a successful business owner and was always a leader by example. Because of him, I grew up with a basic understanding of entrepreneurship and was always interested in being my own leader. I dreamt of large success but didn’t know what that would look like (i.e. being the CEO of a company, owning my own, or finding a successful career).
What’s your background with horses and the equestrian industry?
Both of my parents were horse lovers. I grew up on a farm where we played outside all day, and horses were a big part of my outdoor “playground”. I joined the “equine” industry starting with my first formal lesson as a four-year-old, pony-loving little girl. I started showing at the young age of eight and fell in love with the competition and strive for perfection. As a young adult, I suffered a major riding accident that changed those aspirations, but my passion and love for horses never faded.
What did you study before going into business, and how has it helped you run your company today?
We are a family made up of medical professionals—Dentists, Registered Nurses, Pharmacists and Doctors. I always imagined myself following, in some fashion, to the medical field. Little did I know that it would be in the alternative medicine space. From a science perspective, I feel that I understand the human and animal bodies to the extent of which I should to design, develop and recommend products for healing purposes.
From an actual business perspective, I studied nothing beyond my own fathers’ success and reading many business books (a few I’d recommend: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, and The 4-hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss). I have learned so much from reading about and watching others success and replicating their techniques in my own business as well as surrounding myself with highly successful people.
Why far-infrared clothing?
Because the therapy gave me my life back. In March of 2011 I had a tragic riding accident that left me temporarily paralyzed with a triple fracture in my C2 vertebra. In addition to the break, I had an array of injuries including pneumothorax, torn muscles, and bruised bones. Three months post-injury, after removing the halo traction device, I was put into a hard neck collar—my mobility issues persisted, and my emotional wellbeing was at its lowest point. After exhausting all sorts of pharmaceutical drugs and chasing symptom after symptom, I was recommended to try far-infrared light therapy. The results were amazing, and I knew that it should be shared to other people and animals alike. And what better place to start than the animals I’m so passionate about?
What inspires you to get up every morning and get to work?
I’m the type of person who loves a challenge, so regardless of the day, I can always find something to look forward to. Above all though, the people and animals lives that are being changed on a daily basis from the work we are doing, is what keeps me going.
What’s been a challenge that you didn’t predict or expect?
Relationship building in a scalable manner. People buy from brands they trust—establishing that trust in a noisy marketplace is hard.
What about your greatest success with Benefab® so far?
Three years ago, I was approached by Arenus Animal Health, makers of Sore No-More®. They were looking to partner with the best therapeutic wearables on the market and chose Benefab®. It was a huge honor and I couldn’t be more pleased with the aligning synergies between our brands.
Second to that, last year there was a third-party study of our SmartScrim conducted at North Dakota State University proving a significant reduction in back soreness (over a 6-week period) in moderate to high exercises horses. That study was presented at the ESS (Equine Science Society) meetings and published in May 2017. We are officially the first therapeutic wearable on the market today with clinically published data!
Congratulations on recently publishing your book, Broken to Branded. How is writing a book like starting a company? How is it different?
Thank you! Writing a book requires a lot of work, attention to detail, and strategic decisions. In that sense, it could be compared to starting a company. The flow of the message has to remain cohesive, the cover has to be appealing, and the marketing has to effectively speak to the target audience. All of these things are the same in business.
One thing that I have found to be very different about selling my books versus my products, is that the book keeps giving. I find that people who love a book, lend it to loved ones or other people they feel would benefit. That’s been really neat and rewarding to see from afar.
What are your goals for the future with both business and writing?
From a business perspective my goals for the company naturally align with growth. Our primary focus is user education and customer expansion across all disciplines. As for my writing, it’s turned into an excellent platform for public speaking which is something I’m very passionate about. I speak to many groups about finding their purpose and overcoming adversity. Some of the many groups include prisons, schools, and community groups—many of the people I speak to become readers of my work.
Why do you feel it is important to have women entrepreneurs in the equestrian world?
Empathy. As our world is becoming less connected (counter-intuitive, I know) through technology, humans have a longing for real connection and empathy. Women have more natural tendencies in this area so from a service standpoint, it’s important they remain in all businesses, but especially one with deep connections to animals. Women also have great attention to detail so in product development of any kind, they play a vital role.
If you had to pick three character traits every equine entrepreneur should have, what would they be?
Persistence, enthusiasm and good character.
Do you have any advice for young people who dream of starting an equestrian company of their own?
Intern! Get as much hands-on experience as possible. Dive into the good, the bad, and the ugly. Learn all aspects of business from the ground up. If you decide it’s for you, go in ready to fight. It’s an uphill battle, but if you keep the right attitude, it’s so worth the ride.
Thank you to Kat for giving us thoughtful insight to her business. We especially agree on the subject of good character — it’s essential for any successful endeavor! Whether your goal is writing a book or starting a company, what kind of hands-on experience can you go out and find in the world today? Like Kat said, dive into it all – you never know where it may lead.
About the Author: Lauren holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of California Riverside, and is a lifelong rider and writer. Beyond equestrian journalism, she explores body positivity, mental health and addiction through personal narrative. She enjoys showing on the local hunter/jumper circuit in Austin, Texas.
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