Episode 106

Soul Strap

Meet the Founder and Inventor Rosie Schepisi

by | May 5, 2022

Show Notes:

Hey Lake Norman, welcome back to the podcast. In this episode, we’re going to introduce you to a local startup that’s helping to make yoga a little more accessible to us mere mortals.

Rosie Schepisi sits down with me to share the story behind her startup, Soul Strap. Soul Strap is a Yoga accessory that assists users who struggle with balance and mobility to achieve those impossible yoga stretches. The Soul Strap was inspired by Rosie’s own Yoga journey and she designed and developed the prototypes all on her own. Now, with the help of mentors at Launch LKN, Rosie has a roadmap for entrepreneurial success.

We’re talking about the twists and turns of launching a new product concept in this episode of Lake Norman’s #1 small business podcast. Lean in with me, and get to know the fearless founder of The Soul Strap, Rosie Schepisi.

The Soul Strap

Recommended resource:

“Start with Why” ~Simon Sinek, Ted Talk

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Transcript:

Narrator
Welcome to The Best of LKN, a podcast featuring the best small businesses and the most influential professionals around Lake Norman, North Carolina. Each week, we spotlight those businesses and individuals that are making a positive impact here in the Lake Norman area. Thanks for joining us, enjoy the show.

Jeff
Hey, Lake Norman, welcome back to the podcast. In this episode, we’re going to introduce you to a local startup that’s helping to make yoga a little more accessible to us mere mortals. As always, I want to thank our sponsors for their support of The Best of LKN project. The goal is always to elevate our small business community and give our listeners a personal introduction to the founders of some of the very best small businesses in the Lake Norman area. With that, I want to welcome aboard our newest platform sponsor and brand partner, John Hassell with Farm Bureau Insurance in Huntersville. John is a Cornelius resident and has been representing Farm Bureau Insurance for over 20 years. After eight years of running the office in South Charlotte, John is back in Huntersville to lead the North Mecklenburg team. I find John to be passionate about serving his clients with an uncompromising work ethic. He’s going to be a great addition to our team here at The Best of LKN. And we’re so thankful for his support. You can learn more about John and all of our sponsors by going to our homepage, thebestoflkn.com and clicking on their logos. I’ll also have links in the show notes for this episode. Speaking of this episode, Rosie Schepisi sits down with me to share the story behind her startup, the Soul Strap. The Soul Strap is a yoga accessory that assists users who struggle with balance and mobility to achieve those impossible yoga stretches. The Soul Strap was inspired by Rosie’s own yoga journey, and she designed and developed the prototypes all on her own. Now with the help of mentors at Launch LKN, Rosie has a roadmap for entrepreneurial success. We’re talking about the twists and turns of launching a new product concept in this episode of Lake Norman’s number one small business podcast. Lean in with me and get to know the fearless founder of the Soul Strap, Rosie Schepisi.

Jeff
Rosie, welcome to The Best of LKN podcast.

Rosie
Hey, Jeff, thanks for having me.

Jeff
Great to have you. I’m glad we finally got to coordinate this. You were introduced to me and recommended to me by a mutual friend, Matt Santos over at Davidson Provision Company.

Rosie
Good old Matt.

Jeff
And I also recently had a meeting, an introduction with the folks that Launch LKN. I had their founder and one of the board members as well on the podcast recently and attended one of their meetings. And one of the mentors also introduced me to you as well. So, shout out to Launch LKN, very cool.

Rosie
Yeah, they’ve been instrumental. Oh, my goodness. Definitely.

Jeff
Very cool group and a lot of really great work that they’re doing over there for local startups and entrepreneurs. Rosie, before we get into your startup and the product that you’ve developed, share with the listeners a little bit of your background. Where you’re from, your day job, so to speak, in quotes, your previous career, and just a little bit about you.

Rosie
Sure. So, I grew up in Michigan in a little farm town called Mason. And my father was a mechanic and a handyman of all trades. So, I kind of spent my days with him learning how to work on mobile homes and fix this and build that. And so, that’s how I spent most of my early days. And then I, with my mother’s guidance, ended up in histology, which is the study of tissue to lead to diagnosis, which I’ve been doing now for 22 years. So, but I’ve always been a tinkerer. So, that’s how I ended up here. But yeah, it’s just been a long journey of finding different things to do and fixing them and making them better.

Jeff
Yeah. Well, the product and the company, the startup name is Soul Strap?

Rosie
Correct.

Jeff
Tell the listeners, share a little bit about the product, what inspired it and what inspired going into business for yourself?

Rosie
Sure. So, the product is called Soul Strap, because it was originally designed to be worn around the sole of your foot in yoga class. And I designed it to help me through my class because I was struggling to do all of the poses, and I just wanted to enjoy the moments that yoga brought me. And I was always having to stop and grab that long strap and it was driving me crazy. So, at the end of class one night, my little tinkering mind said, how can I fix this? There must be a way. And that was when Soul Strap was born in my mind. And I spent the next year really diving into the prototype. I bought a sewing machine and taught myself to sew. I did different like equations for the measurements. And I really put a lot of thought into the design of it. So that other people too, could get the same peace of mind that yoga can give you if you can stay in the moment. So, now I’m just trying to get it out there so other people can enjoy the benefits.

Jeff
Yoga is not easy work.

Rosie
No sir. It’s very difficult.

Jeff
I’ve only briefly experienced a couple of the movements. It’s been a long time ago, but I remember how challenging the movements can be. I have a hard enough time when it’s just a mobility workout at the local gym, let alone yoga.

Rosie
Well, right. And also, people have problems with balance during these positions and having to stop to get a tool really disrupts your balance. So, using a Soul Strap can really keep you connected in that flow. And even through your unbalanced moments, you can regain it quite easily.

Jeff
When did you start developing this product?

Rosie
It’s been about two and a half years now. My patents just about come through. I’ve got my trademark on it. And the group at The Hurt Hub has been so helpful in helping me learn how to do all the computer stuff and paperwork and taxes and all of these things. So, it’s been a very intense education.

Jeff
Yeah, for sure.

Rosie
Yes.

Jeff
Yeah, that’s a lot of progress in just two and a half years and starting your own company can be really overwhelming for sure.

Rosie
It is to say the least, especially because I have a child who’s 10. And I’m doing all of my own housework and maintenance and repairs and all these things. But I have always been one for a challenge. I always love getting pushed to the max. I love slipping right underneath deadlines. It’s just always how I’ve been. So, this is par for course for me.

Jeff
Yeah, there’s so much more to a startup and to your own company than just the product itself and product development. All of that, all the back-end work.

Rosie
It’s crazy. I had no idea how much work. Honestly, if I knew how much work it would be I don’t know if I would have done it. I’m glad I just went blind. It was, it’s been really fun.

Jeff
Yeah, that’s awesome. Launch LKN is providing a lot of support in the area of the operational side of the business. Is that correct?

Rosie
Yes. They’ve been so key. Oh, my goodness, I wouldn’t be anywhere near here without them. They have directed me every step of the way. Here’s what you do now. Here’s how you got to go do this. And here’s who to talk to over there. And here’s this email. And of course, getting me to you now. So yeah, they have helped my dreams come true really. This is so cool.

Jeff
I love it. Yeah, very cool. Share a little bit of your yoga journey. How long have you been studying yoga? How did you get into it?

Rosie
Well, I’ve been doing it for about three years now. And I went through a really crazy part of my life. I went through a divorce and all of the upheaval that that brings. And when the dust finally settled, I really didn’t know who I was anymore. And I found myself like having nothing to do. And I said I gotta do something different with my life. What is the weirdest thing I could choose for me? And it was yoga. I’m like, alright, let’s go get weird. So, I found a local yoga place, Charlotte Family Yoga, and they adopted me into their family. And it’s crazy, the first probably six months to a year, albeit I ended every class crying. It was either physically painful or mentally painful, or, you know, all these emotions. And it really day by day, it changed every part of me and made me better in every way. So, it’s been very necessary for me.

Jeff
So, it’s really, it’s been really therapeutic?

Rosie
Yes.

Jeff
Yeah. Charlotte Family Yoga, are they, do they have a location in the Vitality building in Concord?

Rosie
Yes.

Jeff
Is that the location where you go?

Rosie
Yes, by that church, I think.

Jeff
Okay. Factory, I think?

Rosie
Yes, that’s it.

Jeff
Yeah, so, Steve Pinkerton, the owner, along with his wife Jess, of Vitality Fitness, and that complex, was a guest on my Charlotte podcast.

Rosie
Oh, fun.

Jeff
He was actually the first guest. He was actually the first interview I ever did on a podcast a little over, I guess two and a half or so years ago. So yeah, I know that building very well.

Rosie
Yeah, cool.

Jeff
Very cool. So, what, explain again, just kind of in a little bit more detail, how does the Soul Strap work, and how does it assist in the movements?

Rosie
Okay. So, it’s designed by three different bands, and you would put your hand or your foot or your calf through the main band. And then it has two elastic straps that look pretty short, but they actually pull pretty far. And there’s two straps so that as you progress in your practice, you can get closer and closer to what you would think is perfection or however that goes. And because the straps can’t adjust in length, I’ve made it so that you can wear it on your foot, if you can’t reach your foot, you just slide it up over your calf, because then you can reach your calf, so you can really get the options that everybody gets in their movements. And that’s it, it’s super simple. The inner band is also a safety feature so that if for some reason it were to break, then it won’t, you know, fly back and hit you in the face. But they’ve all been tested for strength. And as I call it, strongman tested, my boyfriend couldn’t break it, so therefore we’re good. He’s the strongest man I know. So, and also, you know, people who have, like physical therapy situations have gotten a lot of good use out of this too. My mother has some bone challenges in her shoulder, and she was able to gain five inches of range of motion using this.

Jeff
Wow.

Rosie
So, I hope to someday also get into the PT side of things to bring some relief for people in that way.

Jeff
Yeah, it seems like it would be, you could apply it to physical therapy as well, for sure. Rosie brought a couple. Listeners can’t see, she’s demonstrating sort of like showing me the Soul Strap. And so, it’s scalable to the users’ flexibility and range of motion so they can, it’s adaptable, the more flexible and the greater range of motion you achieve, the less you can become dependent on it, kind of as you progress. Very cool. I would need like the furthest setting, whatever, however far it will stretch, that’s how far I would need it.

Rosie
That’s all right. Nothing wrong with that. Gotta start somewhere.

Jeff
That’s right. You got to start somewhere. Charlotte Family Yoga, cool. And what has been, when did you actually launch this startup? How long has it been?

Rosie
November. This past November.

Jeff
Wow, so it’s only been a few months.

Rosie
It’s only been a few months. I’ve gotten into three locations with them. I’ve got them at the Davidson Provision Company, of course. Thank you, Matt. And iShine Yoga studios in Huntersville. And Charlotte Family Yoga in Concord. And also, of course, you can buy them at www.thesoulstrap.com.

Jeff
There you go.

Rosie
You can see my video there, too.

Jeff
Yeah. We talked a little bit about the video in the conversation leading up to this interview. And you had mentioned it was one take and it felt awkward.

Rosie
It was so awkward. And bless the girl who helped me, she was on her way to move to California the very next day. And she’s a student here at The Hub. So, she was helping me with this video. And it was crazy. It was one take and it’s not my finest work, but gotta start somewhere. Right?

Jeff
That’s right. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I can totally relate. I’m in the middle of recording the first series of videos for a YouTube channel that we’re going to launch. Yeah, I know all about the awkward, the awkwardness of getting started with videography.

Rosie
It’s so challenging.

Jeff
Yeah, I went through the same thing with this podcast early on. So, if I go back to my early episodes and listen to them, which I do once in a while, it’s a great reminder of how far we’ve come, you know?

Rosie
Do you feel a little embarrassed sometimes?

Jeff
Oh, yeah. But you know, really, if you don’t look back on your early work and feel a little embarrassed, I think that there’s probably something wrong, you know?

Rosie
And the way I got through that was watching The Simpsons. Their first episode is crazy prehistoric looking compared to their last episode. And it’s like, you know they look back and they’re like, oh, my gosh, what was I thinking? You know, so if they can get through it, so can we, Jeff. We can do it.

Jeff
Yep. Absolutely. So, share a little bit with the listeners, you’re a fresh startup, just launched a few months ago, what have been the biggest challenges so far, of launching this concept?

Rosie
Time management and dedication, I think, because of time management. I have so few extra hours during my day that I was shoving it in wherever I could get it in. Like on breaks at my other job, I was on my laptop trying to do Canva and, you know, figure out billing and all these things. And so, it’s been very difficult to get it all in.

Jeff
Yeah.

Rosie
And then when I would have blocks of time, I was like, I just need a nap. But if I didn’t have those obstructions, I’d probably be like, another year ahead by now. But yeah, that is the biggest challenge. And then on top of it was, of course, finding the money to make all this happen.

Jeff
Sure.

Rosie
I was really adamant that I wanted to do this myself. More of a principle thing than anything else. And so far, I’ve done that. I don’t know how, the money just showed up in weird ways. And then I actually just recently started a GoFundMe because it’s not showing up anymore and I needed a little help. So thankfully, people have come through on that. But that’s really scary, you know, as a single mom, and you know, I’ve got a regular job. But, you know, things can happen at any minute, and everything can change. And so, it’s been a little bit unnerving to put all my finances into it. But that’s how strongly I believe in it. It’s an incredible product. I’ve not had one person use it and tell me they didn’t like it. It’s helped everybody that’s tried it. So, their words of encouragement have kept me moving forward with it.

Jeff
Yeah, it’s very stressful. Starting out is very overwhelming.

Rosie
Yes.

Jeff
No question about it. And time management is a huge challenge for sure. It’s still a huge challenge for me, too. And I’ve, this is my second go around with a business, and yeah, it’s a huge challenge. Do you have partners or team members, or are you doing it all yourself?

Rosie
It’s just the people at The Hurt Hub. And that’s, I mean, I have a website man, Harry. He’s incredible. But otherwise, it’s just me.

Jeff
Yeah. Yeah.

Rosie
And I kind of like it that way. Because I like to march to the beat of my own drum. So, I didn’t want people telling me how to live my dream out.

Jeff
Yeah.

Rosie
You know, because this really, I have my first patent I drew as a child from when I was seven years old, hanging in my office. I have literally been designing things, and a handful of them have actually been done. So, you know, it just keeps me going.

Jeff
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I can relate to that too, wanting to kind of follow your own vision and not have to be hamstrung by business partners who might want to take the vision in a different direction, or that sort of thing. So yeah, I can relate. At some point to scale, you’re gonna need a team.

Rosie
Yes, that’s right. But the hard part’s been done. Coming up with the idea, in my opinion, coming up with the idea and engineering it to be right was the hardest part. I must have gone through 20 or 30 iterations of this product before it encompassed every function I wanted it to. And to me, that was the hardest part. So, if somebody else wants to run the business now they could.

Jeff
Yeah.

Rosie
Hear that? Come on. But my ultimate goal would be to license this product out. That’s what I really want to do. I am too busy in my personal life to continue the idea of running a business year after year after year. I really would love to just license it out and have somebody else deal with that part.

Jeff
Sure.

Rosie
So, that’s my dream. My patent comes through, I think in a couple of weeks. So once that happens, I’m gonna start trying my hand at that.

Jeff
That’s exciting.

Rosie
Yes, it is. I can’t wait.

Jeff
So, the heavy lifting, so to speak, has already been done.

Rosie
Yes.

Jeff
The product development, the concept is in production. You’re in three locations and online. E-commerce of course is where it’s at for sure. But we love brick and mortar too. Obviously, we’re very Mainstreet right here on The Best of LKN. So, we love to feature a local brick and mortars too. Yeah, that’s awesome. I’m really excited for you. It’s very exciting, but very stressful too, isn’t it?

Rosie
Yes, it is. And I didn’t even bring up the manufacturing. That was a headache. All oh my goodness, I looked at everything from Vietnam to Huntersville. And I eventually found a company in Mount Airy called ESP. And Josh and Mark have been the coolest people to work with. They had no problem with doing small orders. They were already doing some tactical stuff, so the materials I was using wasn’t out of the question for them. And they were so accommodating. And really, you know, if it weren’t for them, I have no idea how long it would have taken me to get this to market. So, they really have been awesome.

Jeff
So, looked at manufacturing worldwide, really, and ended up right here in North Carolina in Mount Airy. That’s very cool. What was the name of their business again?

Rosie
ESP. Equipment Service something, forgive me (Equipment Solutions & Personnel, LLC). It was important to me to keep it here. Because when I looked at the one in Vietnam, they were really nice and everything, but I couldn’t be a part of the product. I couldn’t see the journey through and put my two cents in where it needed to be. And I really wasn’t impressed with the samples I got back, unfortunately. And I thought if this goes out, and even one out of 10 breaks when someone’s using it, it’s a deal breaker. I can’t have that happening.

Jeff
Yeah.

Rosie
So, then I came locally and that’s when I found them. And I’m just, you know, delighted, just delighted that they’ve allowed me to be a part of what’s going on with it. But yeah, that was important to me to be in with it.

Jeff
Have you had an opportunity to, so you’ve had an opportunity to go up there and view the manufacturing process?

Rosie
Yes.

Jeff
That’s cool.

Rosie
Yes. And he just recently opened his business here, too. So, you know, I’ve been watching his business grow too. He went from like a handful of sewing pieces of equipment to like a whole bunch of them and filling up his warehouse. It’s so exciting for them. So, I’m glad to be on board their ship, too.

Jeff
Yeah. Excellent. Excellent. Well, you brought up a few local businesses already. And that’s one of my favorite topics in these conversations, is to kind of give local businesses shout outs. They could be local small businesses that are good partners for your business, or just local businesses that you and your family love. Do you have a couple others for me? We mentioned Davidson Provision Company of course, Charlotte Family Yoga, iShine Yoga in Huntersville, who I think is part of a recent yoga article we did about the best yoga spots around Lake Norman, and ESP in Mount Airy. Who else? Any other businesses come to mind?

Rosie
Well, I do enjoy my time at the Corkscrew in Birkdale. And, of course, my pizza across the way at Brixx. So, I do like spending time there. And there’s an Indian restaurant just down the street from the Davidson Provision Company, and I can’t remember its name, but it is delicious.

Jeff
Masala Mastee.

Rosie
That’s it. Yes. I recommend that place highly. It was so yummy. But yeah, those are my tops for sure.

Jeff
Masala Mastee was, the owner was a guest here on the podcast. I forget which episode, I’ll have a link in the show notes. But they are yeah, wonderful family and the food is so good.

Rosie
Oh, my goodness, so good. I might actually get it after this.

Jeff
Yeah. And Corkscrew in Birkdale also featured in one of our articles. I think we did a list, a 10 best list of the best wine bars around Lake Norman. And Corkscrew was one of them. That was an article, we enjoyed researching that article.

Rosie
I bet you did.

Jeff
Yeah, very cool. Well, thank you. I know there’s always like dozens and dozens that we would love to give shouts out to. So, I appreciate you just bringing a couple with you today. I appreciate that.

Rosie
I also want to give a shout out to Poly-Tech too. Dan Cedrone runs the show there. And they also were trying to help me get this into production with their equipment. And they were the ones who eventually led me to ESP. So, really mad props to them because that, you know solved a lot of problems for me too.

Jeff
There’s a lot to be said for a company, I have a lot of respect for a company that if they, and I’m not sure what the situation at Poly-Tech is for, you know 100%, but for example, if a company, if we approach a company to do something for us and for that company to say, you know what, we may not be the best fit but we’re going to help you find the right people. And that’s, I think that’s, I respect that a lot.

Rosie
Yeah, absolutely. I love that.

Jeff
Rosie, what advice, again, you’re a new startup, what would be a couple pieces of advice, or just one piece of advice that kind of stands out for a listener who might be aspiring to start their own company, and especially one that revolves around a product launch? What have you learned so far that you would recommend?

Rosie
Well, I’d have to say, the most important thing that I’ve learned is to always ask why. It doesn’t, I don’t think it matters what you do. Why are you naming it this? Why are you choosing these colors? Why are you going in this direction? And even if your answer is the same at the end of the question, sometimes it’s not. And those few times when it’s not, are really important. I think those are what lead to pivot points in your product. And also, if you have that feeling that doesn’t go away, like oh, I think I should do it this way. I think I should do it this way. And it keeps sticking, you should listen to it. Because it’s usually right. And that’s kind of when I go back to, I had a certain vision and I didn’t want people to change it. And I’m glad I listened to that little voice because it proved to be very, very right. But yeah, always ask why and always trust your gut feeling.

Jeff
Trust your gut. Yeah, for sure. I love that. And are you familiar with Simon Sinek?

Rosie
No.

Jeff
Okay. So, he’s an author and his seminal TED Talk speech back in, I think it was 2008. I might be wrong, it might have been 2012, I’m not sure. But it was called Start with Why. And he wrote a book on it. And it’s amazing. I’ll email you the link to the YouTube video of his TED Talk. It’s only about 15 minutes. But you really encapsulated a lot of his points in his book and his speech.

Rosie
Wise man.

Jeff
Yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah. Simon Sinek is, he is a very wise man. Yeah, for sure.

Rosie
Cool. I look forward to that.

Jeff
Yeah, I’ll send you the link. It’s very cool. But, you know, starting with why and following your why and keep revisiting it and don’t deviate.

Rosie
Right.

Jeff
Thank you for that advice. I really appreciate that. That’s really good advice.

Rosie
Sure, I hope it helps someone.

Jeff
Yeah, absolutely. And before we close, share with listeners how they can learn more about the Soul Strap.

Rosie
Well, if anyone is interested, they can visit my website which is thesoulstrap.com. I have a video on there again, the one we talked about, and it goes through how to choose a size and what would work best for you and how to use them in different ways. Because it is a little bit difficult to explain it. It’s always best to just watch the video. And then, of course, you can always email me at hello@thesoulstrap.com. And I’ll be happy to answer anybody’s questions.

Jeff
Thesoulstrap.com is the place to go online. And also, of course, as we mentioned locally Davidson Provision Company on Main Street in Davidson, iShine Yoga in Huntersville, and Charlotte Family Yoga, and I’m sure more places to come.

Rosie
Yes, hopefully.

Jeff
For sure. Rosie, this has been great. Thank you so much for joining the podcast. I’m looking forward to featuring the Soul Strap on the podcast and sharing this with our audience and all the social media accoutrements that come along with that as well. So, Rosie Schepisi

Rosie
That’s it. You got it.

Jeff
The founder of the Soul Strap. Rosie, thanks again for joining the podcast.

Rosie
Thank you, Jeff. I appreciate it.

Jeff
Congratulations to Rosie on the successful launch of the Soul Strap and big thanks to her for joining the podcast. Friends, you can learn more about the Soul Strap at www.thesoulstrap.com. I’ll have that link as well as the links to the other small businesses and organizations we mentioned during our conversation in the show notes for this episode. As always, you can find the complete show notes for all of our episodes at the home for Lake Norman’s number one small business podcast, www.thebestoflkn.com. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for our free weekly email newsletter. It’s packed with links to our latest content and upcoming events around the Lake Norman area. If your small business or organization has an event coming up that you’d like listed in our newsletter, send us a note and we’ll be sure to include it. The contact form is on our website. Thanks to our sponsors and a big welcome to John Hassell at Farm Bureau Insurance in Huntersville. John will be joining us for a podcast episode soon, you can find links to his business and all of our sponsors businesses on our homepage at thebestoflkn.com. I also referenced the Simon Sinek TED Talk in this episode, I’ll have the link to the video of that talk on YouTube in the show notes. If you haven’t watched or listened to that talk, I highly recommend you do so. It’s only about 18 minutes long and has to be one of the most inspiring TED Talks ever delivered. The book Simon wrote following that speech, Start With Why, is also highly recommended. Okay, Lake Norman, that’s going to do it for now. Thanks so much for joining us and following along as we get to know the best and brightest small business owners and entrepreneurs throughout the Lake Norman area. We’ll be back next week with another episode. Until then, cheers Lake Norman. Bye for now.

Narrator
We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of The Best of LKN. For more information about this podcast, show notes, video episodes, and links to our feature businesses, please visit www.thebestoflkn.com. We publish episodes weekly, so be sure to subscribe and stay up to date. Until next time, cheers Lake Norman.