They say luck is just a function of being in the right place at the right time. See how that’s ringing true for one powerhouse exec who’s finding herself in a new place: Cincinnati.
Empower. Give forward. Mentor. Reach out to other women. Make time for yourself. Not only have these words become a way of life for Heather Harris, President of CycleBar Franchising, LLC, but a lesson she shares with anyone who crosses her path.
However, the full-circle story as to how Harris got to CycleBar is certainly a serendipitous one. After graduating from Denison in 1994, Harris and her sister – both college athletes – decided to run the New York City marathon for team in training. “We went to Denison for parent’s weekend, and I expressed to my parents that I wanted to nail my 20 mile run – since it’s the longest run you do when training for a marathon,” says Harris. “After four miles of our 20-mile journey, I quit.”
The following day, Harris and her sister went to their sorority to collect money for raffle tickets, where ironically, Alex Klemmer, co-founder of CycleBar, was the president of the house.
“Many people came up to me that day asking how my running was going, and I kind of told a fib – I told them it was going great,” she says. “Then for whatever reason, I told one woman that it was going terrible. I told her I had been focusing on getting a job in merchandising and that it had really caught up to me with my running schedule.”
Much to Harris’ surprise, this woman just so happened to be the CEO of Estee Lauder. “From that point on, she helped me navigate through retail,” says Harris. “I was living in Cincinnati, interviewing for jobs in Manhattan and had opportunities between Bloomingdales, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.”
Harris chose Bloomingdales, and was off to New York. During her time in the big apple, Harris launched one of Calvin Klein handbag businesses, ran Calvin Klein’s jeans business and re-launched Donna Karan Intimates across the globe.
“Then, my hero, Rich Hanson, called me one day and said ‘Heather, you’re so sporty and you love brand development – you need to take a look at this business’,” she explains. “So here is a guy who’s in Pennsylvania, who works in New Jersey, who is telling me about CycleBar.”
“Low and behold, I found that the parent company, St. Gregory Development Group, was freakishly based in Cincinnati,” Harris continues. “I knew something was pulling me to this company, so I sent the CEO a message on LinkedIn.”
The next morning, Harris received a phone call from the CEO about the need for a woman president to run the CycleBar brand. “I came out to Cincinnati and was enamored by the brand and talent I saw,” she says. “I knew they were onto something big. My only filter was whether this was a job I would take in New York – and the answer was yes.”
Since taking the job at CycleBar, Harris expresses that there isn’t much that they HAVEN’T accomplished. “My role is to successfully open the studios – I bring experience of global brand development, a history of solid execution and strong leadership skills,” she says. “Our team’s responsibility lies in the execution.”
As for herself, Harris was just recently nominated for Top 25 Women to Watch in Retail Disruption, which celebrates a group of women who are solving business problems in the areas of operations, marketing, commerce, supply chain, logistics and globalization. However, despite her success, she has never lost her “girl from Cincinnati” mentality.
When asked what she loves most about what she does, Harris explains that it’s all about building teams, birthing and building a strong global – while also being able to get a good, hard workout in between.
“The most rewarding aspect is seeing our studios grow and prosper, and in 2016, our goal is to do just that,” she says. “I hope to successfully open 100 studios by the end of the year, and so far, we are on pace!”
To learn more about CycleBar or upcoming events, make sure to check out the CycleBar App. If you’re interested in becoming a RIDER, Harris encourages you to meet her at the BAR. CycleBar Cincinnati is located in Rookwood Commons, with locations in Kenwood, Mason and downtown set to open this year.