Living the Dream

Have you ever gone to your job and, after a while, realized you want to do something else in your professional life? Maybe you have enjoyed what you built your career on, but always had a passion or hobby that you did not take further because you did not know how to make a living with it. It takes planning, saving, a lot of hard decision-making and old-fashioned guts to make a major career transition. Countless Frisco business owners have made it work. It might have something to do with their success in a previous career or it might be because they knew this is what they were really called to do.

Anytime Fitness – Hayes Carter

Hayes Carter began his career in the oil and gas industry. He spent seven years as a vice president and land man of a land services company. He recalls the job was amazing, but natural gas prices dropped significantly in the larger market and the company’s clients pulled all of their projects. Wanting to get away from the wild ups and downs of the oil and gas industry, Mr. Hayes decided to purchase multiple Anytime Fitness locations. Anytime Fitness is a nationally-recognized gym. He adds, “I have always had a passion for weightlifting and business development, so I decided to merge those passions.”

When he looks back on getting started in the fitness business, Mr. Hayes says, “I was learning on the fly about how to operate an Anytime Fitness. There were a lot of new challenges every day. Signing up a new customer was not just going to be another person working out in the gym; it was a new member with real struggles and real goals. I quickly learned that my job was to learn about those struggles and help them accomplish those goals on their fitness journey.” He says this career change has given him the opportunity to not just work with great people, but to also learn more about himself and how he is capable of much more than he thought possible.

When asked what he finds fulfilling about his second career, Mr. Hayes says, “I get to challenge myself every day to learn, grow and develop several businesses. I know it sounds cliché, but being able to interact with your customers is an amazing thing. I have members in my Rowlett location who have been there since I opened that club. We still text and call each other from time to time.”

Oasis Accents – Karen White

Oasis Accents opened in March 2017 at The Shops at Starwood, although the business was officially born in September 2015. The boutique specializes in home accessories and small furnishings with the idea of providing unique, quality pieces that are timeless. Karen White notes that after the market downturn in 2008, she was frustrated by the lack of smaller home accessory retail outlets in the Frisco area and dreaded going to the big box stores to wander aisle after aisle finding the same stuff. Opening the store became a year-and-a-half-long journey to create her vision and make it a reality.

Ms. White spent 27 years as a human resources executive in the corporate world, including Yum! Restaurants International, Frito-Lay® and Quaker Oats. When she made the change, she remembers, “With my entire career spent in human resources, taking a leap into a brand new unrelated venture and starting a retail business was terrifying. However, it is so rewarding to leverage my understanding of business and apply these learnings to a new store concept.” With the timing of the market downturn and her being at a crossroads in her career, it made sense to develop her passion. She adds that she loves being able to have her store in a community where she has shopped and lived for 11 years.

When asked what makes her shop unique for Frisco, Ms. White says, “Over the last decade, there has been a big focus on big-box furniture outlets in Frisco. Oasis Accents offers and intimate boutique experience with contemporary, modern and transitional offerings, while delivering unparalleled customer service.” She also adds that she takes great pride in curating her store’s accessories, art and small furnishings, as well as meeting and developing relationships with her customers — something that can be much more difficult to find with a larger store.

My Gym – Jenny Swain

If you have younger children and you have not attended a birthday party or enrolled your child at My Gym, odds are it will happen soon. This fun play area, designed specifically for younger kids, is a popular Frisco spot for parents to let kids burn off some energy. 

Owner Jenny Swain knew her numbers working for Union Pacific Resources out of college as an internal auditor. She went back to school to earn her Master of Business Administration at Southern Methodist University and became a CPA. Ms. Swain then worked for a couple other companies between 2002 and 2008 before buying the My Gym Frisco franchise in 2008. And if that was not enough, she tried going back to the corporate life for a few years while owning My Gym. When asked about changing her career path, Ms. Swain says, “I wanted more flexibility to raise a family and I was intrigued by the entrepreneurial aspect of buying a franchise.”

These days, Ms. Swain says she loves getting to work with very young children and their parents. “Seeing their smiles and excitement every day makes me feel good about what we are doing. My staff is typically younger and it is rewarding to have a positive impact on their lives.”

Ms. Swain will admit it was not easy at first. “In the early years, you have to be prepared for the ups and downs of getting a business off the ground. Until you build a trustworthy team around you, it is just you. It is hard work and there is sacrifice involved. The reward comes in getting through it. I can look back now and see how the blood, sweat and tears paid off.” 

Today, My Gym is celebrated by Frisco families as a fun-filled, safe place to bring their young children. Their kids develop many skills that help them throughout childhood and the variety of activities allows My Gym to interact with more than 500 kids and their families. Talk about rewarding!

Whether you are looking for more flexibility to take care of a young family, if larger market forces are strongly suggesting you find a new path or if you are an executive who wants to solve a different kind of problem, a second career can be equally rewarding (or more so) than the first. Each of these Frisco businesses and owners faced different challenges, followed their passions and have become part of the community that makes Frisco unique and special. Perhaps these individuals’ journeys will inspire you to take on that challenge you have always left on the back burner.

Christi Redfearn is a wife, mom and Aggie in search of that perfect lap time in her weekend race car.