It is always inspiring to meet a woman who is living her dream. Kyra Lawton is such a woman. She is a busy mom to three school-age children, wife, architect and CEO of Women- Run. She did what many women only dream of one day doing: Growing their passion into a business.
I met Lawton at her S. Dartmouth garage turned studio/shop where she greeted me with a warm hug and some questions about my coastal visit. In her studio/shop, Lawton designs products; plans road races, like the October 2013 Sanity race; coordinates photo shoots; edits material; and sells her clothes. She is adept at giving a business pitch while handing over a few t-shirts for you to feel and all the while engaging you. Photos of her three kids ages 14, 11 and 9 adorn the walls, and there are plenty of race medals proudly displayed. "I've run road races for over 30 years. I run six days a week to stay in shape, maintain my sanity. I design (here), order, pack, ship, answer the phone, work every expo, run the races, run my household".
Around three years ago, she was at a Mother's day road race, and embroidered the words "Women Run" on hats. They were sold to help raise money for a local women's charity. That was when Lawton hatched her company: Women Run. The words are a double meaning and a play on words. Her emblem, a high heel, flip flop, flat running shoe and barefoot reflects a lifestyle brand. Women are constantly multitasking and either running to someone (i.e., child, employee) or running something (i.e., meeting, household). Lawton considers herself "Chief Runner. I literally and figuratively run. I run my kids to three different schools, to the grocery, to business meetings. I run my household. I am like a reality show with no commercial breaks".
However, Lawton did take a break in her busy afternoon to talk with me about her business background and the growing pains that accompany any new business. She graduated with a major in architecture from the prestigious Cornell University BARCH program. Later, Lawton went on to work at Pottery Barn Kids, where she was one of three who helped launch the new product line. Eventually, she left and started an architecture firm with her husband, but desired more.
After that 2010 Mother's Day road race, she turned 40 that same month, trademarked her brand and went forward splitting her time between the firm and Women Run. Worried that she took on more than she could handle, Lawton reached out to her close friend to forge a business relationship. As the two started to disagree about the direction the business was headed, the friendship turned sour. "I lost a friend but learned a very important lesson. I learned to stand up for myself and protect my ideas and my integrity. After all, as a creative person sometimes the most valuable things I have are my ideas".
Lawton's early childhood design ideas came in the form of creating and selling greeting cards from her bedroom. She was twelve. "My dad encouraged me to try new things and always gave me a hand when I wanted to do something especially hard, daunting or out of the ordinary. My creativity was highly encouraged".
Like her parents, she is also a firm believer in teaching her children how to pay it forward. She donates a portion of her proceeds towards charities that serve women and children. Lawton realizes that there are working mothers who don't qualify for traditional charitable resources, and her aim is to help these mothers. As a mother of two young daughters she is conscious of the negative messages young girls receive. As a result, she created, "Girls Run", with a foundation built on the idea that girls run on self confidence. "I intend to grow Women Run to a well recognized brand that has a positive influence on the lives of women and girls everywhere".
To Learn More About Women Run visit http://www.women-run.com/