Alumni Success Story: Rachel Tuttleman, ’10, ’11

Rachel Tuttleman BBA ’10, MBA ’11 believes working at Shefit, Inc. a Grand Rapids based startup company, is “the most rewarding, yet hardest job” she has ever had. Learn why below.

Tell me about yourself, Rachel

After growing up in Rockford, MI, I moved a few miles to Grand Rapids to attend Davenport University, where I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Accounting in 2010. I immediately began to pursue my MBA in Healthcare Management. After earning my MBA, I secured a job at Spectrum Health in their Process Improvement Department. For several years, I worked on implementing Lean Improvements for their entire organization. In 2015, I moved to Michigan Office Solutions where I lead quality and lean process initiatives. Around the same time, my friend, Sara, started a sports bra company called “Shefit, Inc”. It was exciting to see her progress as she started building a brand. I have a strong passion for women’s health and knew Shefit was where I wanted my career to thrive. In 2016, I joined the Shefit team and haven’t looked back since.

In a nutshell, what do you do?

As a small business, we all wear a lot of hats. I am currently the Director of Operations and Financial Management at Shefit, Inc. I manage financials, budgets, assist with strategic planning, build relationships with vendors, support inventory control, and help with anything else our team needs. Sometimes this may mean packing bras and shipping to fulfill countless customer orders, other times this is working with our strategic partnerships to develop the next big product. As a startup, you must do whatever it takes to keep the day-to-day business needs successful.

What made you want to leave your 8-5 job to work for a start-up?

For me, I wanted to find a place where I could put my passion into action. Working for a startup has been the most rewarding, yet hardest job I have ever had. I remember having early conversations with Sara about wanting to work for her. I admired her drive and passion to help others. She gave me a chance and I started helping her at night with packing and shipping. My passion for the products only grew from there. Then, Sara and her husband, Bob, appeared on the popular TV show, ABC’s “Shark Tank”, where they landed a deal with a Shark. Shefit sports bras’ exposure skyrocketed overnight and Sara approached me about the operation and financial role, and I couldn’t say yes fast enough. I took a risk and left my “safe” career for a startup company, which has proven to be the best decision I have ever made. Shefit started as a home business, with operations out of a basement. They hired their first full-time employee in 2015 and have grown to 6 full-time employees and 3 part-time employees since. We’ve also moved out of the basement and have a warehouse in the Hudsonville area. We affectionately call it the Jenison Garment District.

Walk us through your typical day.

Normally my day starts at 6:00 a.m. at the gym, obviously in my Shefit sports bra. By 7:30am I am diving into my emails, reviewing financial transactions, wire information, HR duties and answering any operational questions. By mid-day, I’ve most likely had several meetings with our accounting firm, vendors or staff members. At nights, I am frequently at a tradeshow or bra fitting home party discussing the benefits of the Shefit Ultimate Sports Bra. My day is non-stop, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s the life of a startup and it’s exactly what I expected.

How has Davenport had a role in your journey?

Davenport provided an excellent education for a career in business. I should admit; no education can ever prepare you for working at a startup. It’s crazy, because every day is different! The projects we completed in school directly apply to the real-world, which helped me translate what I learned in the classroom to my day-to-day work.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

Two things – earning my Master’s Degree and helping Shefit grow. I am leading the charge in creating instrumental procedures to help scale the business quickly and successfully. Not only am I working to change and improve the organization, I know deep down in my heart this product is changing and improving the way women are working out.

What is your dream job?

This is my dream job! I love making people feel comfortable in their own bodies and seeing them happy. I love the work I do and love this company with my whole heart, and I always will. We not only focus on sports bras, we specialize in empowerment and want to give women the power to be who they want to be, at whatever stage they are at in life. We want to help women love the body they were given, not wish it were different. So, for me, this is my dream job because our entire team is helping so many women across the globe.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Lead with compassion. This means being mindful of how we treat others and ourselves. It means taking an honest look at our behaviors and actions, and making small adjustments. By doing so, you will notice a happy working atmosphere and satisfied staff and customers, which overall will improve productivity and profitability. We believe the only way to grow the company is by building a great team and encouraging women to be the best they can be.

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy spending time with my boyfriend, Patrick, who by the way, I met at Davenport. We often hang out with friends and family, as well as our black lab, Derby. When we find the time, we enjoy skiing in the winter and boating in the summer. It’s nice to live in a state where you have so many opportunities to experience the outdoors in all seasons.

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