There isn’t really one specific reason that led to my decision to start Terra Strenua. I’d say it was more of a perfect storm-all of the right elements at the right time. I’m a pretty driven person and I am always looking for ways to challenge myself; I grow unsettled and bored if I’m not. As a young twenty-something adult this was manifested in my attraction to education, which led me to complete 2 Masters Programs in just shy of 4 years (MS & MBA). After finishing my undergraduate work and moving into the workforce it became pretty clear that there were two ways to move forward in a career: experience or education. It seemed like every job that I was attracted to required a degree that I didn’t have or a lot of time on the job. I don’t see myself as an impatient person…but I’m kind of impatient! I was not willing to put time in at a low level job just to put time in. Don’t get me wrong—I am a hard worker but if I’m not challenged, I check out. I hate not being challenged intellectually. Every job that I’ve had seems exciting for a few months but inevitably, I feel like I’ve outgrown the position and more often than not, the company I worked for didn’t have any growth opportunities for me.
I can’t explain it. I have just always felt like I was preparing for something. I haven’t always known what I was preparing for; just that I wanted to be ready when it arrived. This feeling always has me pushing forward and looking for the right fit for me. I can track my initial idea that led to starting the company to a specific point in time. About 3.5 months after graduating from the MBA program, I went backpacking to celebrate my 30thbirthday. The next morning I joked with my partner about waking up and feeling like I slept through 30 years and felt 60. That’s when the seed was planted. Over the next few months I started to look for a comfortable sleep solution. I found none. I saw a real hole in sleeping options for backpackers. I just remember feeling utterly disappointed that no one had proposed a better solution. As my juices began flowing about the idea, I thought, “You know what? I’m tired of carrying all this stuff with me that only has one purpose.” Shortly after coming to these realizations I decided to start working on developing a lightweight and multifunctional cot. Once I committed to the idea it was game on—I was like a terrier with a bone. When the idea evolved enough, I officially registered my business and have been moving forward ever since.
Upon being selected as a Spring Class Finalist, my first thought was: “How am I going to manage this?” Second thought: “Well, it can’t be much different than working full time and being a full time grad student.” Third thought: “This is kind of like a class. The structure will be really good for me. And while I’m at it I’m going to meet a lot of great people.” So far, I’m really enjoying the program. I do really well with structure and I get my energy from being around others and by being engaged. Yes, there have been some people along the way that have been a part of Terra Strenua in one way or another, but I was craving more of a connection with like minded people. BGV fills this need. My favorite part is having people around me who have more or less been “vetted.” It’s hard to trust people and put yourself in such a vulnerable position. I feel that with my SCORE mentor and the coaches we meet with every week are there to help-not to judge and not to take advantage of me. It’s relieving to be surrounded by people who want you to succeed. BGV has been an invaluable resource in that it has connected me with people in my community that I can work with in real time. I’ve met some people who are pretty darn savvy in their field, people who I can get some sound perspective from.
Kristen Alvarez, Bad Girl, Owner of Terra Strenua
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