A leader for the fitness industry: a conversation with Sidney Baptista
We love the community we have had the pleasure of creating over the years; filled with Founders, Thought Leaders, and Go-Getters. The opportunity we have to coach small businesses and assisting them in realizing their goals is one that we hold dear in our hearts. I had the pleasure of reaching back out to one such 'go-getter' in our community. We originally met Sidney through a City of Boston project. Immediately his enthusiasm and business savvy stood out. But most importantly, his mission of inclusion within the running space which has historically been a community with next to no diversity is what won us over. When the idea was tossed around to add a business profile to our next email newsletter, Sidney immediately came to mind. I have on at least three separate occasions remarked on how much he reminds me of fellow Portland native Phil Knight. Driven to solutions, innovative, and a natural entrepreneur, he graciously allowed me to pick his brain. I know the following conversation is one that all can learn from. We at Revby are honored to cross paths with leaders like Baptista. (note: the following has been edited for clarity.)
What was the spark that caused the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey? Entrepreneurship is in my blood. My maternal grandfather used to be a shoemaker in the Cape Verde Islands in West Africa before moving to Angola where he opened a small grocery store. When my family came to the States in the late 70s / early 80s, they went into business for themselves, opening small shops all over Boston. I grew up selling products in these stores and at flea markets on the weekends. I started selling burned CDs in middle school and launched a business in college called Kicks & Tees where I sold sneakers and t-shirts I would buy from Canal Street in NYC. My family continues to run small shops in the city today. What is your favorite part of being a business owner? My Favorite part of being a business owner is being an owner. I have this saying.. Ownership over Influence. A lot of people want to be influencers and social media sells the influencer lifestyle very well. The major brands/companies are happy to use influencers to help grow their market share. But the real winners are the owners. You've been very vocal on PYNRS mission of creating a more inclusive space within the running community, when did you first notice a problem and think, "I can do something about this"? After becoming a big part of the Boston running scene between 2014 and 2017, I was tired of being one of the few people of color in the spaces I was frequenting. I found myself leaving my Dorchester neighborhood to go and run with other people. At the time I would bike, take the train, or drive 2-3 miles out from my house - only to run 2-3 miles when I got to the start point. So in 2017, I decided to bring running to my neighborhood and I created PIONEERS Run Crew. More on that here. Take us through a 'typical' day for you and the PYNR team: A typical day at PYNRS starts with packaging orders that might have come in the night before and getting them into the mail first thing. I try to structure my days so that I have meetings and cover easy emails in the mornings and save my time-consuming work for the afternoon. We also try to create an hour of content each morning. What was your first hurdle after starting your business? The first hurdle after launching my business was figuring out how to drive more paid traffic to our website. We have a pretty established local community and so organic traffic was amazing that first month. After the initial launch and initial buzz died down, we found ourselves not understanding the new landscape of Facebook after the iOS 14 update. It has become a lot harder to convert traffic into customers via paid ads on Facebook. If you could accomplish one goal today what would it be? Personally, if I could accomplish one goal today it would be to catch up on emails! For PYNRS, our number one goal right now is to establish a marketing funnel that works for us. We want to be equal parts community builders, storytellers, and profitable. The apparel business is notorious for being complex, what's an unexpected lesson you've learned along the way? An unexpected and expensive lesson I’ve learned along the way is to use international shipping carriers for international shipments! I made the mistake of using UPS (which primarily focuses on domestic shipping in the US) to ship samples from Asia and it was 3x the cost of DHL. Go-to running playlist: Go-to running playlist: I don’t run with music! I come up with some really good ideas while running alone without music, kind of going through my thoughts, and then when I’m running with people, I just talk to them. What's next for PYNRS: We are hosting a pop-up shop on Newbury Street for the entire month of April to coincide with the Boston Marathon. Join our newsletter to follow along and get updates on everything PYNRS! (If you want to keep up with Sidney and PYNRS join their newsletter here).
We look forward to seeing what Sidney and PYNRS accomplish this marathon season, and I wouldn't be surprised if I catch the logo while walking down the street in the near future.