Brittany Rose More Than CheerBrittany Rose wanted to change the stereotypes often held about cheerleading. A former NFL cheerleader herself, she knew there was a way to flip these negative stereotypes on their head and instead use the sport of cheerleading to empower young women. She started More Than Cheer in 2007 in Ashburn, Virginia with just that goal in mind. Now they offer after-school programs, classes and summer camps to over 200 girls every week and Rose has plans to expand nationally.

Rose’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:

I’ve taken an activity used to trivialize women and girls and turned it into an opportunity to empower the next generation of girls who will lead their communities into a brighter future. Often times cheerleading is associated with archaic stereotypes of what the activity was before it became an athletic vehicle for female empowerment.

My company uses the SPORT of cheerleading (versus the activity of cheerleading) to help teach leadership, self confidence, athleticism, perseverance, and life long lessons that help our students become leaders on their teams, in their classrooms, and for their communities.

Lifting women up is a priority for me, because if we’re not going to do it, then who will? As a woman, we have all seen and experienced the unique challenges that come with womanhood. We have a responsibility to ourselves and each other to help uplift and create opportunities for one another. Women need to stand in their authority and be comfortable leading and being in charge. We need to create a culture where everyone knows that any kind of disrespect is intolerable.

“Often times cheerleading is associated with archaic stereotypes of what the activity was before it became an athletic vehicle for female empowerment.”

– Brittany Rose, Founder of More Than Cheer

I wanted to be able to pass on the life skills that helped me become successful to the girls that were coming behind me. Success is the ability to identify who you are, what makes you happy, and to make choices to live a life that aligns with that vision. I stepped away from my company to focus on expanding at a national level. In my place I hired a director and left day to day management to my co-owner.

I started to see red flags and when I stepped back into the business we were facing the most challenging financial position we had ever been in- losing up to 50% of our clients in some of our programs, covering an exorbitant payroll, and falling behind on a rent payment that had doubled due to our expansion before I stepped away. Coming back to the company and helping to restore it to profitability has been my biggest success to date.

My top challenge has been to develop systems and processes to create a true business. I want to build a company that can run with or without me. I’ve addressed it by seeking mentorship and guidance from experts in my field as well as studying other industries to find the best business practices. Drowing myself in personal development content and constant education. I am always listening to and reading material that will help me become a better business owner and person.

My role model is Shelia Johnson – she’s a local entrepreneur that I met while working on a local youth project in high school. Seeing all that she accomplished in her life and what obstacles she overcame to reach her goals has always been inspiring. My mom and dad are also role models. It sounds corny but their hard work and perseverance has been the truest example of who I hope to become. My boyfriend – I’ve never met anyone who is as curious has he is. His example has taught me that there is always an answer to be found if you look deep enough. I think as entrepreneurs we all come to a place where we are tired and ready to throw in the towel. I’ve been at the place and come very close to letting it all go but my support system carried me through those times and helped me climb to the next level.