Emily Morris has been running her whole life. As an athlete, she was a cross country runner and team captain. Her leadership role of playing 'mother' to her teammates, led her to a career as a personal trainer as she studied nutrition and wellness. Emily knew she wanted to do more.
She saw the need for more convenient fitness options and healthier food choices. This idea would lead her on a journey that almost took her to Germany, but instead led her to buy an old VW bus and the creation of two businesses. The Shoe Bus, a mobile boutique and traveling fitness center, and Bovega, affordable, vegan meal prep and delivery.
Her entrepreneurship skills and strong need to connect people with better lifestyle choices are what keeps her running.
One fall afternoon, I visited Emily at one of her events in LoFi Park in Greensboro, NC. Young women were walking towards the park wearing yoga attire and carrying mats rolled up in their arms. Suddenly, I saw this beautiful VW van drive up and stop. Out hops Emily. She slid the doors open, and the standard looking VW van converted into a mobile shop. She had shoes, yoga gear, and clothes ready for purchase. "It started just like a shop, but it became more," Emily states.
"My husband, Jake, and I, originally, we were just gonna pick up and move to Germany and buy one of these," she gestures to the VW. "We were gonna restore it and live in it," Emily continued. However, the cost of moving and other complications kept them in the states. Out of the failure of that dream came another. The Shoe Bus.
"The Shoe Bus can bring your work out to your home, to your office, to your favorite park, and we've created services like yoga, strength, HIT, bar, and running," Emily says.
They put their cash into the bus, restored it, painted it from margarita orange to vibrant blue, and had a local designer create a logo and other graphics. The Shoe Bus came to life in the fall of 2018. But that didn't stop Emily's pursuit of helping people. That's when Emily and Jake's culinary skills come in.
"Bovega is mobile meal service, order your meals through the website weekly, and we'll deliver them to your home or a designated drop-off location, which we partnered in Downtown Greensboro with Scuppernong Books," Emily says.
At the event, I saw Jake setting up buffet style trays. After the yoga session, they had attendees try their food out to celebrate their first business anniversary. Sampling the menu, many people went back for seconds, so did I!
"I want to make wellness easier for people. A lot of people have a hard time getting to the gym, or they are too tired or busy to health-conscious prep meals." Emily notes. Both healthcare, fitness, and wellness options are high, with the cost averaging $58/mo in the US. Vegan food options are still fighting their way on to tables. "We're trying to change that," Emily says. "Everyone wants to eat healthier, but options are limited, or consumers haven't gone over the hurdle of what plant-based meals can be."
When it comes to training and The Shoe Bus goals, Emily believes that team workouts and togetherness are what make it more accessible. "I was always on a team of six plus women, as a captain, you have to control where people go and navigate for your team to get to places safely. You become 'Mom,' I think that's why I've always needed to help others, from coaching and starting my business."
Emily's dream day is driving around on the bus, going to people's homes, giving her clients work out to either start or finish their day, feeling like they accomplished something without compromise.
"We're bringing the gym to you; we're making the meals for you. You don't really have an excuse," Emily laughs.
The team is an essential part of her business. Without her staff and partners, The Shoe Bus may have remained a dream. She knew a critical part of her business was getting a website up and running but kept having setbacks at the start.
"I got a website from one of the builders that do television ads. They claim 'anyone can build a website' I bought it, and it was hard from the start," Emily states. "I didn't know what to do, so I hired a designer from the school I was teaching at, after two months, 'crickets.' Nothing happened."
Frustrated, Emily thought she would have to do this on her own, till one morning run. She ran past Zibster headquarters in downtown Greensboro and saw our signs. "Websites! I made a mental note, and as faith would have it, I got back to my home, and my designer emailed me saying she was too busy to help me. I went to Zibster right away," Emily exclaims.
She looked over her finances and realized it was affordable. "We had no income at that time, and we thought this was doable!" Emily says. She met with the Zibster team; she told them her business wants and needs for the website, how she wanted people to book time with her, and be able to purchase Bovega meals and see upcoming events. The Zibster consultants and designers helped her realize what was doable, and Emily got the We Do It For You Plan.
Zibster set up and designed her website, moved her content over, added her photos, and set up her SEO to help them get found online. In a week, theshoebus.com was live. Now Emily was able to manage it and do it herself.
"I update the pages and blogs now and it super simple, and if I get stuck, I call their support team. They don't make you feel like you don't understand either they make it easy. Zibster was an amazing decision and partner for my business."
Emily's dream continues-- she hopes to combine Bovega and The Shoe Bus into a brick and mortar one-stop-shop called 'Fuel' one day. "Work out, shop and eat, what else could you want?" Emily says.
Running made has been serendipities in her life. As a leader, teammate, and stumbling on to an online solution for her business, Emily keeps running toward a better lifestyle and stronger company, and Zibster is there along the way.