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Interview with Whitney Quaresma and Kevin Dorey, Founders Of Athletic Apparel Brand BELOFORTE

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BELOFORTE founders

By combining high fashion and athletics, Whitney Quaresma and Kevin Dorey created BELOFORTE, an eco-friendly athletic apparel brand cut and sewn in California. The Founders shared a vision in building a women’s lifestyle brand that promotes positive change in their local and global community through sustainable practices. Whitney uses her experience in athletics and combined it with her admiration of fashion working alongside Kevin’s branding expertise. BELOFORTE was recently picked up by Revolve and will be releasing their new athletic apparel collection in March. We had the chance to ask Whitney and Kevin about the athletic fashion community, their team, and lessons learned along the way.

Beloforte founders

 

What was your inspiration for BELOFORTE?

BELO, at its core, was inspired in our passion for health and wellness. Both of us have such a deep rooted love for taking care of oneself so that we can all live life to it’s maximum potential.

We have always been creative minded people with a lot of drive, and we decided to refocus that drive into a brand and products which promote movement and strong women. We don’t underestimate the power a well styled outfit can have on your mood.

Ultimately, we want to show the world what BELOFORTE really means, and it goes way beyond our clothes. We want to be remembered not only by our core products, but by how we brought the words that make up our name “beauty and strength” into the lives of people all over the world. We believe they should be synonymous and our apparel is created with that in mind.

What are your backgrounds?

Kevin: Worked as a civil engineer prior to a brief endeavor in developing a business associated with wellness. Former athlete, and current adventurer with a passion for people, community and the beauty in the world.

Whitney: Health and Fitness Specialist, Strength and conditioning Coach, Fitness fanatic, Fashion enthusiast! I love helping people find their best selves.

What does the brand mean to you?

BELOFORTE literally means ‘beauty & strength’ in Portuguese. To us, it it means finding your best self through fitness and one’s fashion. It means defying the odds, not giving in, not giving up! Being kind to others, and true to yourself. Shining your best light on the people around you and leaving them with that positive energy and power that we all have inside of us. Living the life you dream of!

Apparel is the one of the easiest ways to express yourself and give people a glimpse into who you are. BELO means, walking out the door every morning with confidence and a purpose, while empowering those around you to find their Beauty and Strength!

How does the fashion and athletic community affect your brand?

The intersection of these two communities drives our business. The athletic community is so powerful, and they are passionate about every aspect of their lives including their active apparel. We were part of this community, and ultimately we saw a hole in the market for active apparel with a more fashion forward aesthetic. We didn’t think there needed to be a clear division. It makes a lot of sense that these two influence each other and overlap in a big way. Everyone wants to be comfortable and look good, and that is exactly what our apparel is about. Brands are now bringing you functional, stylish, transitional pieces that you can wear anywhere! Our aesthetic is very tastefully sexy! You can wear our pieces day and night, out shopping or with some cute heels, as well as to your favorite workout or group class! Everything is made functional for any active endeavor and looks beautiful and unique!

How has your lives changed since launching BELOFORTE?

You always hear about how hard it is to start a business, but until you’ve done it, I think it’s tough to really understand how challenging it can be. What you find however, is despite those things, just how incredible pursuing a dream can be. We work a lot. There are really no days off, but the feeling we get from conceptualizing products, developing them, and working through all of the hurdles is incredibly gratifying. Let’s just say it has been the most beautiful chaos of our lives!

What were some obstacles you encountered along the way?

There were and still are a ton. Everything from building our infrastructure to identifying our sourcing and production partners. One of the biggest hurdles has been getting our product timelines figured out as far as development, sourcing, and production. Right now, our biggest challenge is simply getting the brand in front of as many people as possible.  

Describe your team.

Our core team is just us at this point. We work with a development and manufacturing consultant that assist in driving our product development and manufacturing and they are great. In addition, we work with a great PR team that is great at branding, marketing, and promotion. And last, we just brought on a great sales rep to help us reach more customers.

What are they like?

We are all hard working and fun individuals. We find that to be really important. It makes it easier and more enjoyable to take on the challenges of our days. Also, with exception of Kevin, they are all strong, intelligent, driven women.

What is the biggest lesson you learned?

Enjoy each day! There will always be so much to do and sometimes you will have bad news. I have learned to make the best out of a bad situation and push forward. Understanding what is in your control versus what isn’t and simply focusing on doing your best. Making mistakes is inevitable, but making the same mistake twice is not. So learning everyday and applying those lessons to be better prepared for what the future holds.  

Describe what it’s like being picked up by Revolve.

It was an absolute thrill. We couldn’t be more excited. Revolve is Whitney’s favorite place to shop. And they are the top destination for today’s generation of women to find trends, inspiration and buy incredible clothes. We were honored that among all the new brands available they put their confidence behind BELO and what we are doing. A dream come true.

Beloforte exercise

Beloforte white top black leggings

beloforte black outfit

beloforte

Beloforte long sleeve

Jie writes about influencers and startups in various industries. She is a designer turned techie, and when she is not writing, you can find her in her workshop working on her next big project.

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Business

Scooterboard By InMotion Adds An Edge To Rideables

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scooterboard

After almost 3 years of product development and testing, the Scooterboard by InMotion has entered production, thanks to an impressive Kickstarter campaign where they were able to reach their funding goal in a mere 48 hours. The Scooterboard is a cross between a scooter and a skateboard, and the resulting product is a lightweight, front-axle steering rideable that is both easy to learn, is safe, and is sporty. Here is everything you need to know about Scooterboard.

scooterboard

The Scoop on InMotion:

The Scooterboard is the brain child of CEO Rose Wang, founder of InMotion, a company based out of San Diego, CA (You can read her full interview with Owner’s Magazine here). Formed in 2014, InMotion has been testing multiple prototypes and gathering user info from people all over the country, using that to tweak each iteration into what is being produced today. Thus, the Scooterboard is a product that is based solely on user feedback, merged into the creative idea that InMotion had. After three years of testing and re-testing, the final result is this unique rideable that caters to just about everyone.

Specifications

The Scooterboard weighs about 22 lbs, can carry up to 264.55 lbs, and has a top speed of 15.5 MPH, which it accomplishes through its 250w electric motorized rear wheel. It runs on a rechargeable, interchangeable lithium battery mounted on the undercarriage of the Scooterboard’s rider platform. Charging time is around 2.5 hours, which will grant its user about 7.5 miles of driving range. The included charger is equipped with an intelligent over-discharging system, which will cut off the power supply once the battery is full. The Scooterboard also has regenerative braking, a useful feature that pioneered the way for Hybrid Technology to be successful and gain traction (get it) in the motorized vehicle industry. How it works is that braking will generate kinetic energy, which will then be stored and reused as battery life.

There are two driving modes for the Scooterboard: Casual, and Power each of which changes riding experience drastically. Casual Mode keeps the motor quiet, the speeds smooth climbing and the brakes soft. It’s a mode for the leisurely rider to cruise easily. Power Mode is a different beast: Engine noise is heightened, acceleration is faster, and the brakes are firmer. Late to work? For a date? Want to feel more wind under the raw open-air of electric rideables? Use Power Mode.

scooterboard

scooterboard

Ergonomics

At first glance, the Scooterboard looks exactly like a spruced up, aggressive scooter, but that’s exactly what it isn’t. The Scooterboard sports three wheels instead of two, thanks to a front-axle, fork mounted steering system. The standing platform is sandpaper textured to avoid slipping in dry and wet weather, and gives the user a firm, planted feel when riding. On the single, ergonomic handlebar, there are two switches for acceleration and braking. Both are conveniently located right next to each other, but are situated where the thumb controls the brake, whereas the index finger controls the acceleration. Both are pressure sensitive, similar to the pedals on a car, or the handlebars on a motorcycle. There is also a mechanical brake in the rear wheel. Step on the rear wheel cover plate to brake via a small hidden brake pad. At 22 lbs, the Scooterboard is easily transportable, and the front handlebar folds down, allowing the user to carry it like a suitcase, or pull it along like a carry-on.

scooterboard

Rideability

With the unique concept of such a vehicle, rideability should be at the forefront of priorities. After all, being unique means it hasn’t been done. For a product such as the Scooterboard, rideability should be a special experience, but it should also be attractive and intuitive. The Scooterboard does just this by combining the best qualities of two popular terrains, the scooter, and the skateboard to allow its rider a fun, sporty platform that is also easy to learn (users claim it can be learned in a single session), practical, and convenient. To do this they crafted a single handle that curves like a cane right under the single handlebar. That allows for a perfectly balanced center of gravity. No other rideable on the market has employed this design, yet it works brilliantly with the Scooterboard’s ergonomics. The feet are planted sideways like a skateboard, or a snowboard (for the snowboarders, with the fork-mounted steering system, carving is possible, and encouraged), and steering is done in one of two possible ways: tilting the handlebar left or right, or by leaning the body. Leaning allows for sharp turns, and even full U-turns in small spaces, a useful feature not found in many other electric rideables. For novices, leaning to steer is a skill that takes some practice, but once attained is immeasurably helpful. For those wanting to get on the road right away, the handlebar exists to easily compensate. It is easy to use, and the mastery is almost immediate. Together, the handlebar and the lean to steer system combine to create a useful method of steering that is as useful as carving on a snowboard, without the months of learning associated with carving. It can be employed to take quick, sharp angled turns, and control speed which, on the Scooterboard, is surprisingly sharp. On a flat, level plain, the Scooterboard can hit top speed in about 4 seconds.

With the motor turned off, it can be kicked off manually. Conveniently, there is no resistance from the motor when it’s off, so users can kick off and enjoy a manually powered vehicle post shut-off.

Learnability

InMotion prides itself in the fact that its product has a very low learning curve. Users agree that through intuitive adaptation, riders can be comfortable on a Scooterboard by the end of a first session. There are a few things to get used to, however. 15.5 MPH may be drab in a car, but on a vehicle as small as a Scooterboard, the speed can be intimidating, especially for beginners. The lean-to-steer system has the biggest learning curve, there is a feeling associated with the vertigo of being close to falling that users have to overcome to fully utilize this method. But regardless, the Scooterboard can be driven any which way, however the user is most comfortable. CEO Rose Wang said herself that during conceptualization, she wanted to:

create a unique and accessible vehicle that is easy to learn and more affordable. With Scooterboard, we want to make the e-board culture more inclusive so that more people can participate in the electric vehicle movement. We want to challenge the e-board industry to innovate with inclusion in mind so it’s not just a cliché. E-boarding is a fun and awesome experience that’s good for the environment – why wouldn’t we want to get more people involved?”

The Scooterboard by InMotion is now available for pre-ordering here for $649.00 (early bird pre-orders currently receive $50 off the full retail price of $699.00). Because InMotion wanted to keep prices low, they will be working closely with distributors and retailers. There are currently two colorways available: the one found on the final tested prototype of a sleek black and blue, or the more enigmatic, bold black and green.

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Tesla News on Hurricane Irma Response

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tesla news

Tesla came to the rescue by unlocking the full 75 kilowatt-hour of energy within the car’s battery pack once a Tesla owner immediately needed about 30 more miles to escape their mandatory evacuation zone during Irma. When Tesla realized that an additional 15 kWh jolt could give 30 to 40 more miles to other car owners, the company temporarily unlocked more Tesla vehicles in that region so they could reach safety. It became Tesla news when the company assisted in many escapes during Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma striked Florida for 11 days, receiving a record as the longest-lived Atlantic hurricane since 2004 with Hurricane Ivan. The storm left traces of tree debris, destroyed buildings, and even 26,000 bugs that were caught in the hurricane. Irma has devastated Florida with trails of wandering trash and floods, concluded Irma’s impact as the strongest storm in Atlantic history. Donations and help were given towards the tragedy, one of the most unexpected came from entrepreneur Elon Musk and Tesla.

Tesla is unlike other car manufacturers. The company is enabled to limit their battery capacity in its vehicles through a software. The Tesla Model S and Model X cars have a capacity of 75 kWh but are restricted to no more than 60-70 kWh. Tesla owners typically have to pay $9,000 more to unlock the extra 15 kWh of battery power, but in the time of need, Tesla came to help by offering all customers a temporary upgrade to escape the dangerous hurricane. Although most state laws demand customers to bring their cars into the dealerships to collect upgrades, Tesla has neglected traditional routes by deleting the third-party to connect with the company directly. Creating sparks of Tesla news and attention, the company is praised for being unique and away from traditional values. 

The CEO of Fetch Robotics, Melonee Wise commends Tesla’s act of courage during Irma. “One of the major benefits to being first to market is not only the ability to move quickly and decisively, but to offer a certain level of innovation and creativity that might not be available within a more established industry,” says CEO Melonee Wise.

Tesla is giving a prime example to other companies by doing their part in a time of disaster. To implement a sense of community and trust during tragic times will do more than just create sales. While Tesla is shaping that company culture gradually. What drives Tesla is innovation, their core branding is represented in how different they are from other manufacturers. “As a new, disruptive force in the automotive space with no established revenue base or embedded infrastructure to cannibalize, Elon Musk was able to completely reengineer the way cars were produced, serviced, and sold.” says Skywire Networks CEO Alan Levy. Tesla’s reply to immediately help during Hurricane Irma, further instructs the dependability of the company as a whole. Tesla is able to respond to their customer’s needs instantly.

Carbon Robotics CEO, Rosanna Myers emphasized on the issue that other companies face: don’t bite the hand that feeds you. “While disruptors can do what’s best for the customer. Tesla unlocking range to save lives is a prime example of how that agility is shifting the landscape.”  CEO Rosanna Myers also speaks upon a bigger topic trend: all major companies need to be software-centric. “Customers now expect continuous upgrades and improvements to their hardware, but a lot of old-school execs barely know how software works,” explains Rosanna Myers. “As we move to a world of connected devices, they’re being left in the dust.”

Among their activities, Tesla’s hurricane Irma response gave them copious amounts of praise, as they should. The bold act became the biggest Tesla news, for fans have more reason to purchase their cars. Their immediate reply to help can be used as an example for others to reshape company values. 

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Succeed As A Veteran Owned Business

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Starting and maintaining a business may be hard work, but can be made easier with the right network. Having the right support and connections may be the thin line between success and failure. If you’re a veteran entrepreneur with a business idea, you can receive funding to help bring those ideas to life. We will explain the steps to succeed as a veteran owned business.

Find Out If You Qualify

If you have previously served in the military and/or have an injury-related disability, you may be eligible for government contracting and additional funding. In order to receive this certification, the individual must own at least 51 percent of the company that they are applying for, and manage the day-to-day operations of the business. There is also a procedure that you’ll need to follow in order to prove your veteran and/or disabled status. In order to prove veteran status you will need to provide a Department of Defense Form (DD214). If you are applying as a service-disabled veteran, you will need to get a letter from the US Department of Veteran Affairs proving that you are actually disabled. In many cases, if you are not interested in securing government contracts for your veteran owned business, these steps are not necessary.

Register with The VA

Another crucial step in the qualification process is to register through the VA or Veterans Affairs. Registering will not only assist with the strategic marketing of your business but will also add a legitimacy factor in being known as a veteran owned business. People are generally supportive of service men and women and want to support your endeavors, so proudly promoting that you have a veteran owned business will add to growth. The VetBiz Registry, which acts as a business database is the first step in registering with the VA. You will need to have your DD214, letter of disability status, tax forms, bank statements, business license, any partner agreements, and some other additional documents may be requested at the discretion of the VA.

Utilize the SDVOSBC

The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act was created in 1999. The goal of this act is to generate over $15 billion of contracting dollars for businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. Being that some veterans return from duty with disabilities stemming from conflict, this program sets aside a certain amount of contracts to service them first. As long as you are considered disabled from service no matter your rating, you are eligible to securing a contract. However, if you do have a 100 percent disability rating the government has contingencies in place to allow a spouse or caregiver to run the business in place of the veteran. It’s very convenient and an amazing opportunity for vets who have served to be able to get their ideas out no matter their status.

Marketing Your Veteran Owned Business

Veterans are normally praised and promoted for their service in the armed forces, but the magnitude of entrepreneurship in this demographic is overlooked. According to Forbes, there are over 3 million Veteran owned businesses run in the United States, 5.7 million people are employed by Veterans, and Veterans are twice as likely to own a business than non-vets. These statistics show that there is a strong thread between the personalities of veterans and the interest in entrepreneurship. Strength, discipline, and leadership are all valuable traits to possess in business. Registering your business with BuyVeteran.com can also be a great resource to use for promotional items. When you register you will receive badges to display throughout your business/store, along with apparel (T-Shirts, Hats), Magnets, and other marketing items. Using the local media in your community, as well as social media, can help with promotion. Using your veteran status to appeal to an audience who already has admiration and respect for you will surely render growth.

Know Everything About Your Industry

If your chosen business field is completely out of your realm of knowledge be sure to research as much as possible before requesting support/investors. You should be an expert on your business idea as well as having a solid business plan ready to execute. Doing research includes finding out who your target audience is, how to price your products/services, who your competitors are, and what laws are in place in that industry. Will you need a license to provide certain services? How does paying taxes change for a business owner as opposed to an employee? These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered before you move forward with the business. Once you have completed all these steps you are ready to take on the world as a Vetrepreneur! Good luck!

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