Ashley Futris is no stranger to the entrepreneurial community. She recently had a soft opening for her new boutique downtown, Bolt. On August 24th & 25th, she will have the grand opening, and we could not be more excited for her! She touches on all the Good of being an entrepreneur:
Who do you look up to for inspiration?
I’ve always looked up to my parents for inspiration. While that may sound cliché, they’ve been grinding their entire lives and always striving for more. My Mom grew up in a large family, if she wanted something, she worked for it. My Dad grew up in his parents’ restaurant downtown Chicago. They both grew up with the work hard, dream big ideals. My Mom, Marcey, worked hard her entire life, always creating, always scheming up something. While we owned Rosati’s pizza, she had a vision for a way to display your marathon medals. She and her running buddies had been accumulating medals and it just didn’t feel right to keep them in a box and the wooden displays on the market just weren’t her style. She knew she couldn’t let this idea slip away and in 2007, SportHooks came to life. Eleven years later she is cobranded with Disney (nearly unheard of), partners with St. Jude’s and various other large races and charities across the country.
My Dad, Pete, played football and baseball in college, opened his own very successful restaurant in Chicago called My Partner’s Place. Soon after his friend Mike Stefanos has been developing the Dove Bar and asked Pete to be employee number 1 and open the first Dove Chocolate ice cream plant. When Mars purchased Dove Chocolate they hired him to build their other ice cream plants and he stayed on with Mars in various roles until he retired in 2005. After Mars, Pete never really retired, and was hired on by Panera Bread as VP of Contracts, etc. He now works side by side with my Mom at SportHooks and they continue to grow and prosper.
They’ve always encouraged my sister and I to dream big, work through the lows, never give up and never stop learning/exploring! Because of this I am passionate about travel and experiences and I think having a broad range of experiences and travel has allowed me the opportunity to be inspired, think creatively, and bring that inspiration to Waco.
What sparked the fire that inspired you to start?
Seeing my parents be successful, I never shied away from hard work. I took my first ever huge leap of faith when I was working as VP of Sports and Special Events for the Waco Chamber. I had taken on the role and kept the current events rolling along improving them where I could, but I had ideas for new events that I wanted to try. My second year in the role I wanted to try The Texas Food Truck Showdown, I had the concept in my head of what I had wanted it to be and started reaching out to people as resources to make it happen. Chris, my right-hand guy and I would travel to Austin and Dallas talking to food trucks personally, gaining any knowledge we could to make it successful for not only the food truck community, but also the attendees. The Chamber staff was behind me on the idea, I had pulled together a plan and presented it, while the staff was wary, I stood strong in my belief it would be a success. In 4 short months, we pulled it off. It was more of a success than I had even imagined. As with any first-time event, you learn A LOT and we knew exactly what we needed to improve upon next year. Next up was the George’s Big O Cup tournament, I knew this would be a hard sell because how many golf tournaments does one city really need? What would make this different? Well, I had this vision from a concept I had seen to make golf more beginner friendly and not as intimidating. Make the actual golf holes larger…genius. George’s seemed to be a natural fit with the Big O’s so I pitched it to Sammy and Kyle and thought who doesn’t love George’s and a golf tournament? We sold out double rounds the first year and we haven’t looked back! All this to say, there will always be someone telling you why it won’t work, stay strong in your vision and everything else will follow. This is how I feel about Bolt, I’ve always loved giving gifts and finding products that are off the beaten path. My friends joke and say just be a professional gift giver, so this is sort of my outlet to do that. The vision is a little different than what Waco is used to, but I think the community will love it…(I sure hope so anyway 😉)
What’s the best thing that’s happened to you on the job?
The best thing that’s happened to me on the job is seeing your vision come to life and people enjoy it just as much as you’d hope they would, if not more! Putting a smile on someone’s face, having them find something that speaks to them and is special to them, is everything and more I could hope for!