Last Fall, we had the pleasure of meeting, BJ Dowlen, the founder of BodyworksBall, at the Entrepreneur 360 event our CEO, Dan, was speaking at. She was kind enough to give Dan a free sample of her product – a self-massaging tool that helps relieve muscle aches and pains. Dan loved the product so much that he reached out to BJ personally to thank her and offered to help her business in any way possible.
BJ connected with Jared on our Merchant Relations team and a beautiful friendship was born.
Because of the uniqueness of BJ’s business and product, we wanted to share her story with our other small business owner clients. She was happy to discuss her growing business, Superstorm Sandy, living with no fear, and the adversities she has overcome to get her where she is today.
GP: What were the biggest challenges you faced when starting your business?
BJ: I thought I had everything under control until a giant wave hit me (literally). On October 29, 2012, I was wiped out by Superstorm Sandy. My house, car, personal possessions, office, and inventory were all gone in one night. Even though I did everything right, paid all my insurances on time, I still have not been made whole by FEMA. In addition to launching my first product (of 8) in the Bodyworks line, I’ve been fighting for my rights, and the rights of others impacted by the storm.
That’s the bad part, now, the GREAT thing that came out of losing most of my worldly possessions is, I have NO FEAR in business, and I know for certain who really loves and supports me in life. In my fight to protect the rights of victims of natural disasters, my business has expanded into new directions, which include two new books I am writing, and working with the top meditation and mindfulness experts in the world.
GP: What inspired you to open BodyworksBall?
BJ: I’d been working with elite pro athletes for years doing sports performance work. I was also writing global HR, compliance, Code Of Conduct, and hiring policies for Fortune 500 companies. On a rare afternoon off, I was getting a pedicure, and my athletes were texting me that they “slept wrong” while on the road. They asked if I would fly out to help get rid of the cricks in their necks and shoulders. At the same time, I received a text message from the COO of a company saying he had “slept wrong” and his feet were killing him from his aggressive travel schedule. The people who were texting me had a combined income over $100 million, and could afford to have ANY solution, yet they were texting me.
At that moment, the kneading massage balls of the massage chair I was sitting on hit my shoulders. Yet I was disappointed that the massage motion was only there for a few seconds. Immediately after my pedicure, I went out and bought a massage chair pad, took it apart, and watched the motion of the moving parts all night. The next day I started making my first prototype.
I realized that the product both my athletes and my business clients needed was a lightweight, portable, self-massage tool to get rid of their neck cricks, shoulder knots, and sore, achy feet. I was fortunate that I was able to test out the size and density on over 350 of my athletes.
Now that The Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and Harvard all agree that sitting 10+ hours a day hunched over tech devices is as bad as smoking, I’ve been going around teaching office workers how to take hourly two-minute breaks to stand and roll away stress and knots with the BodyworksBall.
GP: How has it been working with Gravity Payments?
BJ: I met Dan at the Entrepreneur 360 event in the Fall, and he was kind enough to send me a thank you for the BodyworksBall sample that I gave him. He then introduced me to Jared, who was super kind, patient, and easy to work with, right from the very first phone call. It’s unusual to use this word in business, but Jared was “cool”, right from the beginning. I’m not a “tech” person, and that was never a factor.
GP: What is your number one piece of advice for small business owners?
BJ: Network your butt off. Be relentless. Use social media to “get” to your targets, but then be sure to follow up in person if you can. I give myself 48 hours to follow up with people I meet. I’m also a BIG fan of sending personal notes in the mail. People get hit with SO MUCH email, that my hand written notes seem to stand out. Finally, always be sure that whatever you write is from the heart, nothing fake or forced.
GP: What is a fun fact that you can tell us about BodyworksBall?
BJ: The BodyworksBall is used by two SuperBowl MVP’s, an NBA MVP, the CEO’s of some huge companies, top rappers, and it was selected by Oprah as one of 17 items to be healthier in 2016.
Want to learn more about BodyworksBall? Check them out on social media and stay updated!