Melissa Moo Harkins launched MooMotion, which has been making and selling women’s triathlon gear since 2012, in a bid to break free of a unfulfilling career on Wall Street. An avid triathlete, Harkins combined a love of the sport and a degree from the Parsons School of Design to create a line of workout wear that could make women “feel and look great,” she told us in her 1,000+ Stories profile. “The women’s endurance market is highly underserved.”
Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone — it’s a demanding job that requires time, money and energy. In many ways, it’s much easier to work for Corporate America, where you can earn a steady paycheck, accrue vacation time and contribute to a retirement plan (and maybe even get a company match). But being a cog in the wheel of a giant corporation can also bring about feelings of boredom, malaise and general dissatisfaction.
“Prior to starting my company, I had what most people would define as a successful career on Wall Street,” says Harkins, who spent nearly a decade working for big players including Banc of America Securities and Nasdaq. “I found myself complacent and the work uninspiring.”
During this time, Harkins started racing and training. “It proved to be a nice outlet and a place where I could be my best self,” she says. “I have always been inspired by each athletes individual motivation to push their bodies and minds to the highest limits.”
In starting her own business, Harkins combined her various skills sets, namely, an expertise in finance with a passion for sport and a flair for fashion. That’s something other aspiring entrepreneurs can learn from. It’s never too late to explore other interests — and you can even do so while still working at your corporate job. Many people start sidelines while still enjoying the security of a steady paycheck, eventually quitting the corporate machine when the startup is thriving.
For Harkins, running her own company is certainly more challenging than working for someone else. “I love being held accountable for [my] own successes and failures, however, it can also be overwhelming especially when I’m thinking about it 24 hours a day,” she says. At the same time, “I love combining my interests and passion and creating a role that I love.”
In recent years, Harkins has focused on expanding her company’s product offerings, incorporating customer feedback into each new design. MooMotion gear has also found a place with retailers around the country. Harkins says loves it when she sees other women wearing her items out on the race course, adding that “getting the product from initial concept to being on a complete stranger is one of the coolest feelings ever.”
Harkins relishes the flexibility the entrepreneur’s life affords her. It has given her more time to spend with her three children, to take part in the sport she adores, and to co-organize an event called Wall Street Rides Far, which benefits autism research efforts. But most of all, she’s thrilled to have the opportunity to work with and for women — something her previous career in finance rarely provided. “Now, all I do is for women. It’s fantastic.”