Several years ago we teamed up with Catapult Greater Pittsburgh and their Startup to Storefront business incubator program to grow minority entrepreneurship in East Liberty. The program offers participants monthly cohort learning, one-on-one mentoring, educational seminars, technical assistance, and more.
In a new series, we are spotlighting some of the entrepreneurs using the program to catapult their businesses across the East End and beyond. Today, we are highlighting Aquene Watkins-Wise of Royally Fit.
Royally Fit is a holistic health and wellness brand Aquene has been building with her husband Domenique Watkins-Wise since 2015. Born out of their personal passions for healing, nutrition, and self-care, they offer their clients everything from farm-to-table nutrition workshops and overdose prevention to aromatherapy products and loose teas blended from organic ingredients grown in their garden.
Discover how Aquene is giving back to her community while building a sustainable business with the help of Catapult.
Can you give us an introduction to your business and what you do?
Royally Fit provides solution-based products and programming that support whole body wellness. We advocate being fit in every aspect of wellness and do so by facilitating free education, access, and resources, specifically targeting disproportionately disadvantaged Black and Brown communities.
My husband is medically retired from the U.S. Air Force. When he was deployed for the first time, he used the gym as his means of coping with the emotional and mental turmoil. It wasn’t long before he began bodybuilding and became the go-to person for fitness advice on his base and with our families and friends. Once he retired, he would have individuals asking him to help with their diets or prep for bodybuilding contests. One-by-one, he began taking on clients, offering personal training and meal planning services. As demand grew, I eventually got involved and we expanded these offerings into full-scale wellness support, adding in my passion for making natural herbal products and supporting people with their emotional and mental wellness through education. It was a natural evolution to what Royally Fit is today.
How did you get involved with the Catapult program?
I joined Catapult’s second cohort in 2019 after being introduced to it through my friend LaShesia Holliday of Naptural Beauty Supply, a participant in the first cohort. She told me about how beneficial the program was for her and how much it helped her business, which made me determined to get involved as well.
How has Catapult helped you develop your business?
The Catapult program was a perfect fit for me because of the way that they wrap their arms around entrepreneurs and truly provide support! Whether it’s Ms. Tammy purchasing products or providing me with the platform to market them or Trish Digliodo, the amazing technical assistance provider and owner of Paramount Pursuits (Catapult’s program partner), helping me reignite my passion and holding me accountable for my goals or Mrs. Josette creating connections—they gave me exactly what I needed! I truly can’t say enough about the Catapult program and the folks at Paramount Pursuits. I know I wouldn’t be anywhere near as successful if it wasn’t for them in my corner.
The most valuable aspect of the program for me was the one-on-one mentorship—having someone who knows my business well and is in my corner cheering me on is truly priceless. Trish and Marcos Digliodo of Paramount Pursuits helped me outline action steps, hold me accountable, and love on both me and my business.
Can you give an example of action steps they helped you take?
Royally Fit previously offered apparel, including leggings, workout shirts, and other items. However, I did not enjoy producing them. It was time consuming, and the profit margin was very low. When I explained this to Trish, she helped me create a plan to revamp our products, suggesting that we offer more of the wellness products that I was already making for my family. She also helped us structure our community wellness program, connecting us with organizations that have a budget so that we can keep programming free for community members. This reignited my passion for the business, and I can’t thank them enough for that!
What’s been the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur? What keeps you going?
The most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur for me is the impact that I’m able to have on my community. I am the kind of person who is fulfilled by acts of service to others, so the fact that my business has been a vehicle for healing and equitable health and wellness access is the most rewarding feeling! Additionally, my children often come with me to many of my events and get to see philanthropy in action, and it is my hope that service will be their legacy.
How can people support your business?
Since our goal is to ensure that programming is always free for our communities, the most supportive things people can do are making donations, purchasing our products (the revenue funds our programming), and recommending us to organizations who are looking for equitable ways to engage with their community. Sharing our events to encourage attendance and also sharing our mission is super beneficial to us as well.
You can find us on all platforms:
Facebook: RoyallyFit LLC
We also have a Royally Fit Wellness Support Group on Facebook where we share a lot of tips, tricks, and promote our upcoming events.