In March, 2014 Kristin and Ben Shane planted their family’s roots in Medina. For the previous 9 years Kristin and Ben had worked a whirlwind schedule at Target headquarters, having both been recruited right out of Indiana University’s MBA program. Prior to their move back to Minnesota they worked a 27 month Target stint in Canada – the Shanes had moved their family of four (with 3 year old Dylan and 1 year old Sydney) from Plymouth, where they had lived since July of 2005, to Toronto in December 2011 for a job relocation with a handful of Target expats. There in Canada Kristin headed up the home and hardlines division; Ben led the health care and beauty business.
To make life more interesting in Toronto, Ben and Kristin became pregnant, then had Austin, their third child. “He moved back with a Canadian passport,” Kristin laughed. “It’s cool he has dual citizenship. It was awesome living in Toronto!” Upon her return, Kristin became the vice president of beauty & personal care at the Target Minneapolis corporate office. “That was a really fun job. I’ve always been in merchandising working different businesses.” Ben came back to running a private label business at Target. He left in 2014 shortly upon returning to go lead a sales team for Coca Cola, still maintaining his Target ties with Target as his major focus. Kristin left Target in 2016 after growing personally and professionally for 11 years.
When asked how FlyFeet came to be, Kristin explained, “I have always wanted to start my own business. I had to travel a lot for work, so on the road I would attend boutique fitness studios in the mornings before work. One morning I was sitting in a class and I started doing the math. I thought, ‘how much it would take for instructors? What must the capital investment look like?’ and so on, and then ‘I could do this! Wow, I love fitness, I love running businesses.’ Before long, I had my business plan in place and in November 2016 we launched our first location in Minneapolis. Over the summer I recruited Ben to help me get the business started. I’m a great recruiter,” Kristin laughs. “He’s still working with FlyFeet!”
As Kristin talked about the transitions of her life and of the members in her family, a commonality emerged.
Passion for Fitness
A busy 5th grader, Dylan is passionate about hockey at Minnesota Made where he currently plays at the squirt level. He manages to fit in basketball and tuba during hockey season with his studies at Providence Academy. In the off season Dylan is a baseball player for Plymouth-Wayzata and soccer for Providence.
Eight year old Sydney is on the competitive gymnastics team at Mini Hops Gymnastics, and at the time of this writing just completed her state meet. Her love for the sport earned her a spot on Mini Hop’s junior olympic team ~ already she’s practicing her sport 12 hours a week. In addition to gymnastics, Sydney likes to play soccer, is in third grade at Providence Academy and active in Girl Scouts.
Austin, now 6 and in 1st grade, also plays hockey, baseball and soccer. “You know.” Kristin smiles. “As the third kid he’s always trying to keep up!”
Ben grew up playing baseball, football and basketball. Kristin was on her high school and college competitive dance teams and played tennis in high school. Living an active life has been important for each of the Shanes.
“I have always been a runner and obsessed with fitness.” Kristin continued, “At Indiana University I started to teach group fitness classes. When I graduated, I moved to Chicago to work for Accenture, and continued to teach group fitness classes as a side hustle. For me, I’ve always held onto fitness as my mental release. After having children, it was difficult getting to a class so I would just go for a run really early in the morning. I solved the world’s problems on my runs.
Passion for Business
“I also love running businesses, which is why I loved all my jobs at Target. In my first position out of college, I had a $250 million P&L at Target for the Candy division, it was nuts. Beauty & personal care were over $6 billion. Target was the best training ground for me to figure out a plan and gave me a true understanding of how the business comes together. At Target I was in 9 jobs in 11 years, it fueled my passion, yet I’d never be able to do that without leveraging my mentors. It helped tremendously having people I was able to be very vulnerable with ~ to say ‘I’m not really sure how to do this, can you help me?’ is important.
“People ask, ‘Isn’t it hard to start and run a business when you have a young family?’ When I was at Target, I used to travel three to four times a month, I missed a lot. I never travel anymore. Work hours are no different from having a corporate job, but now we have ultimate flexibility. I can pick Sydney up at 3:00, go to Starbucks and work on math together until her gymnastics at 4:00. I could never do that before with my job at Target. This was a nice benefit to my original thought process to the three reasons for going off on my own.
My dad was an entrepreneur, so as I child I looked to him and thought, ‘that looks easy. I’m going to be like him!’ Our kids have been with us through it all, from the Minneapolis location starting as rafters, to coming with us on the weekends throughout the build. For them, it was very tangible and real. The reality is, with as busy as all five of us are, Ben and I can’t be at every single one of our kids’ events, but they understand. We talk with them about hard work, fear of failure, the vulnerable side of running a business.
Positive Impact on Others
I met with a lot of people and picked their brains, getting all the perspectives I could. Fitness is very personal and vulnerable. I always thought we could shed a different light on running ~ all the time we hear, ‘I’m not a runner.’ but at FlyFeet we usually only run between 30 seconds up to 3-4 minute intervals, everyone can do that. We wanted to build something with big growth potential, but also with the big potential to impact people’s lives.
“What unites everyone who comes to Fly Feet is their willingness to work hard. And hard is a relative term, hard for you is different than hard for me is different than hard for the person running next to us. But if we all have the mindset that we’ll give it our best, that’s where the magic happens. In this fitness industry, it tends to be you versus the workout, and that isn’t how it should be. It should be you versus you. Our workouts are written to help you find what your best is on that day, every day is different. 69% of the US population is overweight or obese. The fitness industry is not regulated, there is so much out there that is not advantageous, and a waste of your time. Pro athletes are getting fitter and faster every day, we’re not going to be the next pro athlete, but if we can train like them, then we can see meaningful results. The workout should be scalable so everyone can do it, whether you haven’t worked out for 5 years and 100 pounds overweight, or Miguel Ibarra, superstar soccer athlete (he trains with us in his off season), you should be able to work out side by side and have the same feeling doing the same workout at different levels of intensity.
Now Ben is the CFO, COO, the HR Director, he runs the operations and financials as well acts as general manager at Wayzata. We started Fly Feet because we think there’s an opportunity to scale and in order to do that you have to do every job so you understand it. “I’m the CEO, plus I fold towels, post on Facebook,” Kristin chuckles. “A jack of all trades.”
When I asked why Fly Feet launched in Minneapolis, Kristin replied, “Good question. I was looking through the lens of launching a brand and less than launching a fitness studio location.” Anyone who owns a business knows that it IS like having another child. “If described as a person, I’d say FlyFeet is inclusive, approachable, inspirational, has an incredible work ethic. Yet, Fly Feet is also cool, fresh, edgy and fun. We don’t take ourselves too seriously.”
Lucky for us all, Kristin and Ben have chosen our community to call home for both their personal and business families.