7 Questions with Shelagh Stoneham
Name: Shelagh Stoneham
Current title: Founder & CEO Power WearHouse
Current organisation: Power WearHouse Inc
Ms. Stoneham is the Founder and CEO of Power WearHouse Inc.
Power WearHouse is a health and wellness company that specializes in weighted wearables. Ms. Stoneham founded the company in 2020. Retailers across North America are starting to carry Power WearHouse products such as the largest sporting goods retailer in Canada, Sport Chek. First year sales are projected at $1.375M.
As Senior Vice President Marketing, Ms. Stoneham’s key accountabilities include: brand, consumer and marketing strategy, development of brand identity and essence, customer experience, customer relationship management, digital development, leading multi-channel design including store and visual merchandising, advertising, agency management, marketing creation, media planning and investment.
Prior to launching Power WearHouse, Ms. Stoneham was Senior Vice President Marketing for several Fortune 500 companies including Chico’s, Shoppers Drug Mart and Rogers Communications.
Ms. Stoneham is a dynamic and innovative senior executive with tremendous experience and success optimizing shareholder value for top tier organizations. She is highly collaborative, equally skilled at creating, building, and revitalizing brands as developing, inspiring, coaching and managing strong professional teams.
Her experience spans a broad range of sectors including fashion, retail, telecommunications, packaged goods, high tech, airline, brand-name and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. Ms. Stoneham is an award-winning brand thought leader with a relentless drive for innovation and excellence.
Ms. Stoneham has served on many boards including: Canadian Chair of the Alliance for Audited Media North America (formerly Audit Bureau of Circulation North America), Vice Chair of the North American Board, a Director of the Women’s College Hospital Foundation Board and a Director of the Vividata Board (formerly PMB and NadBank).
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
We are forging new relationships with key stakeholders such as major retailers. Meeting our commitments has been really challenging given COVID has disrupted manufacturing and shipping channels.
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
For as long as I can remember, sports and fitness have been part of my life. I have taught Pilates, sailing and scuba diving and enjoy yoga and tennis when I have time. I love the power and vibrancy exercise gives me. I’ve made staying fit and active a priority, and I’m always looking for ways to improve my own strength and endurance.
Recently, I discovered that a weighted vest can significantly accelerate calorie burn and build muscle tone without changing my exercise routine. I found I could build core strength and muscle even while walking my dog!
But I also discovered that most weighted vests are ugly, bulky and ill-fitting. I like to say they’ve been purchased by many and abandoned by most because they are one-size fits no-one. They shift and chafe. They are utterly uncomfortable. And on top of that, they are not at all attractive.
That sparked an idea: What if I could design and develop a weighted vest that beginners and pros alike would actually want to wear and use? I envisioned a vest that would fit everyone well. I wanted the fabric to be comfortable and flexible. And I needed a design that would let the person wearing it easily add or subtract weight depending on their workout.
With all of that in mind, our Power Weighted Vest was born! It comes in many sizes from XS to 3XL to fit a range of body types. Using perforated neoprene fabric with “no-stink” technology (pretty self-explanatory!), it’s comfortable enough to wear all day (some of our wear testers actually did!)
We are committed to helping people get more out of their workouts with our vest and our line of weighted accessories that are just as stylish!
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I start by quickly checking emails from our overseas suppliers. (Given the time-difference, it is a convenient time for us to connect). Then I do a reformer workout, play tennis or take Otis, our two year old Wheaten Terrier for an hour long walk. (when walking it gives me a chance to think about business challenges and opportunities) Starting at 8am I respond to customer and partner emails as these are both important and/or urgent. I schedule all meetings in the morning if possible. Take a short break at around noon to eat then work for a few more hours on marketing and product development. I then go for a walk with my husband or workout at 6pm. Make dinner, enjoy zoom calls with my friends and family. I usually read a book (I'm a speed-reader) which helps me to relax and get to sleep. Take a bath and go to sleep by 10pm.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
I've transitioned from working for very large organizations to starting my own business. Although our manufacturers are very important to us, we, by virtue of our short history and relatively small volume, are far less important to them. I have learned how to demonstrate at every step that we value the partnership and operate with maximum efficiency and minimum friction.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
'Leaders Eat Last' speaks to the importance of putting your team before your own needs as a leader. It has helped shape by leadership style and I have gifted this book to many others.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
Leaders need to be very clear about what success looks like including financial targets and organizational values. They need to hire the right talent and set the pace. Recognize and reward great work.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
As a new business owner, I am learning many new skills such as supply chain. Large retailers penalties if we fail to deliver against their very specific EDI processes, packaging and timelines are significant. I decided early on to be authentic with my freight forwarder and the retailer operations team about what I don't know and ask for their support. Turns out that they were happy to fill in my knowledge gaps and have been incredibly helpful in problem-solving issues along the way. Frankly, I think they find our honesty refreshing!