Welcome back to the series where I have the pleasure of interviewing some of Canberra’s most fascinating women.
This week I met up with the lovely Michelle Walton at Me & Mrs Jones in Kingston. We talked all things sport and business and here’s what I discovered.
Who are you?
What do you do?
I am a Director and General Manager of Merchandise for Sportsmans Warehouse. My right hand woman Leah Robinson and I travel quite a bit to source and buy all the latest, coolest products that you see in Sporty’s.
Some people might find it interesting that the entire buying team at Sportsmans Warehouse is made up of women! In fact my business partner and fellow director Alannah Magee has also been with Sporty’s for over 25 years and heads up the branding and marketing team.
I’m also the director and designer for Red Corner which is a hugely exciting new fitness boxing brand that we launched in October 2014.
What attracted you to the fitness industry?
My parents owned a squash complex and they often joke that I was born on court number 3, because as a child that is where I spent most of my time. I guess it has always been in my DNA. From a very young age I was right into sport and when I moved to Canberra back in 1986 my first job was in sales for Sporty’s. It just seemed right for me.
The retail fitness industry is diverse, challenging and constantly evolving – that’s what I love about it. You have to be adaptable, innovative and forward thinking to be the best in your field. I have also met some amazing people from many different walks of life that have truly inspired and challenged me to be best that I can be.
Tell me about these boxing gloves for women….
After over 25 years in the fitness industry we recognised the under representation of quality functional fitting boxing gear for women. There is gear out there for women, but very limited choice. The fits are just not as good as ours, the majority being men’s fits in disguise. Inspiring women to increase their fitness, is one of our primary goals.
We are driven to get more women to feel comfortable with fitness boxing. If we can make gear that is functional and funky, then more women might be inclined to give it ago. The latest range that we have designed is a global first and something that the whole team is very proud of.
How long have you lived in Canberra?
I moved to Canberra from Coffs Harbour in 1986 so that makes it 29 years!
What’s the best thing about living here?
I love that Canberra is like a big country town it is a really easy place to live. I love trail running, hiking, bike riding and Canberra has great facilities on offer and right at my door step. The Canberra community is very generous and supportive in many ways. If I need a big city hit it is only a three-hour drive to Sydney.
What do you have coming up?
Sporty’s is gearing for the summer sports and Christmas season so all hands on deck ensuring our customers are well looked after.
Red Corner is debuting at Hustle and Scout on September 12th which we are very excited about.
I’m heading off to India to supervise the production of our new product range in early November, due to launch January 2016. I enjoy working with the team in India. They are all very keen to learn and do well.
In particular, I work very closely with two sisters. On my last trip they said “we can’t wait to see you!”. I said “why is that?”, they explained that they were excited to show me how much weight they had lost! Wow, I was so impressed and asked them how they did it. They said we were inspired just by me talking about the importance of exercising and eating well. So they changed their diets and went walking every day. One sister lost 14kg and the other, 10kg!
I was amazed and felt so proud of their commitment and hard work. In fact, on my trips I feel like I spend more time talking to the team about the importance of diet and exercise than I do working on product development. I have just completed my Certificate 3 Personal Fitness and just about to start Certificate 4. I’m hoping to implement more of my leanings with the guys and girls in the factory on future trips.
My goal further down the track is to spend an extended period of time helping implement better systems and procedures in the factory as well as educating the employees the importance of health and wellbeing. This is a something that I am really passionate about. If I can make a difference to just one person’s life that would mean a lot to me.
Why should women get into fitness boxing?
It is a great whole body workout, great for toning, great for aerobic fitness, great for strength, great for cardio fitness and is also exhilarating and empowering for women.
Where is your favourite place to eat?
I love food and I love that Canberra has so many new and innovative foodie experiences. The breakfast at Local Press, the shared plates and drinks at Monster bar at Hotel Hotel, Lunch or Dinner at Pomegranate. In summer I often grab some tasty bits and pieces at Fyshwick Markets and head down to the lake for a picnic with friends.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Tricky question but I often think about what it would be like to fly!
Three words to describe you?
Determined, disciplined and passionate.
What do you do for me time?
Love the great outdoors. My partner Teresa and I have a few acres just outside of Braidwood with a couple of close friends. It’s very simple comfortable and relaxed way to spend some time (when we are not mowing or planting trees!). Think generator for power, water tank, gas for cooking, slow combustion for heating, fabulous outdoor fire pit. Total chillaxing way to spend time with great friends and family.
I also love to challenge myself by competing in off road ultra-marathons usually ones in the mountains. My partner and I have done the North face 100k up in the Blue Mountains twice now and after the first one I swore I would never do it again… but back we went again. We have just started training to attempt a third time! Crazy but we love it! I’m not one to sit still. Actually whilst training for the first North Face 100k is when my idea of Red Corner was born.
What makes you smile?
My beautiful black standard schnauzer Archie. He is a fun loving adorable boy and a day doesn’t go by where he doesn’t make me laugh, I love him to bits.
It was so great sipping tea with this inspirational lady. I might have to get her to send us some before and after photos of these two sisters that have dramatically changed their life for the better after meeting Michelle.
Is there someone you would like to read all about in this segment? Please let us know by sending us an email or commenting below. We always love hearing from you.