smilingrid: #HStoHC (part five!)

May 01, 2014

#HStoHC (part five!)

Lunch at #HStoHC was glorious. You want to know why? Because it was catered by Chipotle, that's why. Emma and I were practically drooling in anticipation while walking back from workshop #2... and I'm pretty sure we weren't the only ones!

Hoards of hungry pre-collegiettes (and bloggers, don't get between me and my burrito!) descended upon the spread...

...But it kept getting replenished! The Chipotle that never ended!

Like I said, glorious.

There was so much deliciousness that Emma got to grab a bag of chips to go! Her Campus is the hostess with the mostess, don't let anyone tell you differently!

With full bellies and smiles on our faces, we settled down to listen to the keynote address. Our keynote was delivered by none other than Northeastern grad, entrepreneur extraordinaire, and The Handle Bar owner/manager, Jessica Bashelor!

She didn't start out with a "how the HB (as she lovingly calls it) got off the ground" spiel. Instead, Jess told us about herself, her life story. It was wonderfully personal and really gave us a sense of how she ended up crafting her own path in this way.  For example, she grew up in a military family, which she says taught her to embrace change and see it as an eternal good. This served her pretty well, considering she changed majors and life tracks several times before graduating with a degree in biology. BUT! This inability to choose one thing has helped her be a successful entrepreneur as she's been able to become a Jack(ie) of all trades.

Proof of how personal this keynote was! Those are her parents (who were also in the crowd!)

Her mom said that she "knew she'd land on her feet" when asked whether her daughter's entrepreneurship ever scared her. Her dad added that Jess has "always been very bright, very upbeat... it's are not to root for her and to trust her." Don't you just love family?

Jess also told us a bit about her boyfriend- whenever the whole craziness go to be too much, he always tell her "hey bud, stay the course." Pretty great advice whether you're writing a final paper (or any other school work, I just have papers on the brain!) or starting a company! Stay your course, pre-collegiettes, and love where you end up!

This is her freshman dorm room at Northeastern (even I'm jealous f that view and my living arrangements are stellar!). Interesting thing about Northeastern- high school Jess called in her safety school! Present day Jess told the pre-collegiettes in attendance, "your 'safety school' might be the best thing that's ever happened to you... see it as a chance to embrace the unexpected." How awesome is that?

Jess became a bio major and was very happy with her choice even though she doesn't use her major now. ALL of her courses were difficult, so she couldn't allow herself to not care about any of them (see below!) She has some really awesome advice about your college years:
  • Don't get lazy! "Easy A" courses put on the backburner yield less-than-expected-A-grades
  • Enact changes that you want to become habits for the rest of your life. YOU get to shape who you become!
  • DON'T ask when you'll use something in the real world
  • "Make it count, put hurdles in your own way, and learn to get over them"

While in college and after, Jess worked as a waitress. She was able to casually chat as a form of networking- something all of us can implement! This job and taking a gap year after college graduation helped her realize her own passions and have time to do a lot of thinking.

It was one of these casual networking conversations that led to her first "real" job- in which she got paid to work out! She wore this small company's clothing to classes in studios around the city to spread the word. She gradually started taking on more tasks- like marketing, social media, e-commerce, Photoshop & graphics, and more. Even though she was "working more, more, more and more" she had no stake in this company... so, she went back to witnessing, realizing that she wanted to be the boss.

While back in her college job, she started reading books and researching how to start a business. She had already gotten to know all of the owners and founders of other studios through the accumulated tasks she'd been doing, and she knew that she wanted to open her own studio, focused on spin classes.
During this period, Jess faced a lot of naysayers, people who couldn't believe she'd left her steady job to enter the tumultuous world of entrepreneurship. But, Jess says, they "will never be asked to give an inspirational speech!" Jess ignored these negative voices. Instead, she dove headfirst into achieving her dream with the outlook of "failure is not an option"

On a very memorable St. Patrick's Day, Jess got her first investor. He helped her meet others and after rounds of "no, no, no, no" they received a "yes!"
This cycle repeated again with investors and leases, but The Handle Bar team pushed through. And on June 15th of last year, The Handle Bar opened its doors for the first time- the culmination of two years of blood, sweat, tears, and hard work! It was a bit slow going at first, the HB gradually accumulated its first group of regulars and "the Handle Bar community began to take shape."

We got to watch the Handle Bar promo video in the middle of the keynote address! The HB looks like it has a LOT of cool things going on- black light and other effects with music driven awesomeness makes classes "a dance party on a bike!" (watch the video here!)
Not only does it look like a blast, Jess-in-video stressed that "self-betterment is just as important as physical gains," which is SUCH an important outlook for your gym-of-choice to hold. You go, Handle Bar!

With over 4,000 individual riders through the now open door of their first location, Jess decided to start the cycle (spin bike cycle? Anyone?) over again in a new location. Two weeks ago on Saturday, new doors opened in Fenway! They recently had their first sold out class and that crazy number on individual riders is only going to grow. "And to think" Jess said, "it all started with an idea."

Jess had an amazing story to share and did such a great job telling it! I definitely need to try a Handle Bar class ASAP!  


  1. I've loved reading through these posts, and that story is so inspiring :)

    xo, Hima

    Hima Hearts

  2. Thank you, Hima, that means so much :) and, she is SO COOL!