Q&A4Her with Kimberly Martinez, President and CEO of Bonitas International
When did Kimberly realize she wanted to be a business owner and why?
Kimberly always envisioned running her own business, a goal that was part of a larger series of personal and professional ambitions. Her plan, which involved making the move from being an executive to an entrepreneur, emphasized completing this transition before turning 50 while also paying off her mortgage and raising her three children. In many respects, particularly concerning reaching this milestone before her 50th birthday, Kimberly is well ahead of schedule: she is now the President and CEO of Bonitas International, makers of a series of critically and commercially acclaimed fashion accessories that transform traditional workplace items – like lanyards, name tags, ID badges and other workplace products – into stylish forms of affordable and durable jewelry.
The success of Bonitas International was and is part of Kimberly’s dream of creating a business environment, which reflects her values and independence. The company’s many achievements, as symbolized by the flagship line of BooJee Beads, are an inspiration for all aspiring entrepreneurs: that there is a desire to establish something that resonates with consumers, while also building a legacy based on vision, leadership and perseverance.
What in hindsight would she do differently if she knew then what she knows now?
Kimberly’s advice on this matter is simple: do not let fear impact decision making. Too often, entrepreneurs may make choices based on anxiety, without taking the time – and distance – necessary to reach a different conclusion. Kimberly has a better appreciation for this phenomenon, having faced this circumstance herself, and her recommendation to other entrepreneurs is to maintain the independence necessary to execute policies without apprehension or worry.
What were the biggest challenges of bringing her unique project to market and why?
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for Kimberly, on behalf of the launch of BooJee Beads, involved finding a reputable manufacturer in China. This process also includes overcoming a language barrier, meeting with a variety of local representatives, judging the credibility of different managers and evaluating a facility’s ability to bring products to market in a timely and economical fashion. None of these tasks is easy; all of these projects can be overwhelming, unless you approach this assignment with a well-articulated plan. The reason this challenge is so great is rather obvious: Kimberly had to visit a foreign country, liaison with emissaries who would introduce her to several manufacturers and then make a decision – a determination that would influence the fate of her company – to partner with someone who could handle the large number of orders on behalf of Bonitas International.
What is the best business related advice she’s ever been given?
The best advice Kimberly received, about running her own business, involved understanding the finances of her company. Far from being a boring subject, this material can influence the success or failure of a business. For example: just because a company is profitable does not mean it has enough cash to survive. Without sufficient operating capital, no business – no matter how popular or recognizable – can flourish. Period.
What does Kimberly love most about what she does and why?
Kimberly loves the many opportunities – the proverbial blank canvass at her disposal – where she can create new products, discover untapped markets, interact with consumers and fulfill her vision. By introducing BooJee Beads to such a varied audience – teachers, nurses, doctors and other professionals – Kimberly is part of a daily experience filled with education, feedback and excitement.
What does Kimberly as a woman business owner does she feel is the biggest challenge of running her own business?
As a woman, Kimberly recognizes that her gender can be an issue when doing business in certain countries. For, while the United States celebrates and provides many opportunities for female entrepreneurs, those same benefits do not always exist abroad. The good news is that, as a buyer and company president, Kimberly has the leverage necessary to negotiate deals and partnerships without regard to regional bias.
How does Kimberly define success?
For Kimberly, success is a state of mind and being: a chance to realize your goals, and approach each day with excitement and discovery. Running her own business, Kimberly has that privilege — a luxury she encourages others to experience and enjoy.
What is her favorite food and why?
Kimberly is, in her words, someone with a “severe addiction” for stone crabs. From May 1st through October 1st, when stone crabs are in seasons and the lines form outside Joe’s Stone Crab, Kimberly feeds her addiction with this delicious treat. The taste and texture — all of these features make this food a delicacy Kimberly loves to savor.
When she’s not working how does Kimberly like to spend her time?
As a mother of three children, two boys and one girl, Kimberly is at many soccer and baseballs games — she’s the ultimate fan! On those days where she has extra free time, Kimberly likes to relax at Siesta Key Beach and enjoy the sun and surf.
About Kimberly Martinez
Just 10 years ago her life was completely upturned by September 11th. A successful executive in the travel industry, Kimberly was playing the corporate game well. However, following 9/11 and vicious cutbacks in travel, she was suddenly laid off. Alone with three kids under the age of three, Kimberly was in damage control mode.
She was also at a critical fork in the road.
She could hit the streets, resume in hand, and bang on doors for another job… or she could seize the opportunity to finally design the life she truly wanted.
For Kimberly the choice was clear. She filed her resume and set out creating her own business. After months of missteps and false starts, she was smacked with a startling revelation…
The key wasn’t to decide what ‘business’ to start. The key was to decide what ‘lifestyle’ she wanted to live – then design a business that would cater to that lifestyle.
This was an earthshaking moment of realization for Kimberly and the birth of a system that would change not just her life but hundreds of others too. The system is called “The Entrepreneur’s Journey” and is a process where you get really clear about the lifestyle you want and the passions that flame your heart, then construct the perfect business to make it all happen.
Once Kimberly got clear on the life she wanted, creating the perfect business was easy. In January 2003 she launched Bonitas International, a company that creates specialty fashion accessories for business women. It was an immediate success and rapidly grew into a million-dollar business in just three years.
Her company’s innovative product line quickly caught the attention of everyone from the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Entrepreneur and Vogue to the Today Show, HSN, MSNBC, and FoxNews.
In Other Words…Kimberly’s “Lifestyle Design” Plan Worked.
Since then, Kimberly has taken on a larger role as, not only an inspiration to would-be entrepreneurs, but also an advocate. She routinely joins the fight to protect entrepreneurs and small business interests through lobbying and education.