Introduce yourself! Who are you?
My name is Kimberly Shenk and I’m the co-founder of NakedPoppy, an online clean beauty company that helps the on-the-go woman find clean makeup, tailored to her. Before starting NakedPoppy I was the Head of Product/Data Science for various tech companies in Silicon Valley, including Eventbrite. I started my career as a Data Scientist and Officer for the United States Air Force.
I’m an avid endurance athlete and enjoy racing in Ironman triathlons, marathons and ultra-distance running. I love health and fitness and am a junkie for natural/ organic foods and healthy personal products.
How did you get here?
When I was a little girl I loved math, airplanes and sports. My Dad was a pilot for the California Highway Patrol and I inherited my love of flying from him. At age 17 I got my private pilot’s license. I was recruited by the United States Air Force Academy to play Division I Volleyball and went there because I wanted to fly for the Air Force. After graduating and commissioning as an Active Duty Officer, I decided to attend graduate school at MIT to study data science instead of flying.
Spending four years at military leadership school and then serving as a Captain in the US Air Force, I found myself in leadership roles early in my career. Those experiences have helped to define my work ethic, how I approach problems and how I build and lead teams.
Health and natural/ organic foods have also been a huge part of my life and who I am. My parents always ate extremely healthy and taught me to do the same. Racing in endurance events such as the Ironman (which requires 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles of biking and 26.2 miles of running) have also influenced my perspective on health and the importance of what you put on and in your body.
With nine years of service in the military honing my leadership and team building skills, my passion for health and fitness and my expertise in data science, starting NakedPoppy has been the perfect extension of who I am and how I want to leave my mark on the world.
What message do you think every woman should hear?
You will never rise to low expectations — set audacious goals and dream things that seem impossible. You’d be surprised at what you can actually achieve through determination and grit.
How do you manage your work-life balance?
The military taught me to prioritize health and fitness because of the “whole-person” concept. You can’t show up to work and endure tough demands without your mental and physical health. Fitness is viewed as part of your job and you’re required to find time during the workday to work out for an hour, every day.
I still carry this with me today as I try to balance work and personal life. Many times I run at lunch and then eat my lunch at my desk. Or, I show up to work in my workout clothes, go through emails for an hour and then head out on a run. Or, I commute to work by biking there. My tip is to schedule and prioritize a workout into your workday, every day. Put in on your calendar and treat it like an important meeting!
Do you remember a specific time you overcame adversity?
Getting pregnant wasn’t something I was convinced I’d ever do or could do. There were multiple reasons. I was very career focused and raising kids felt like it would be a distraction. Focusing on my career had put me into my 30s and I thought it would be more difficult to get pregnant as I got older. And I was afraid of the transformation my body would go through. I was deathly afraid I’d have to give up running and being active.
Now that I am in my eighth month of pregnancy (yes I did it!) I’ve experienced and struggled through a couple of these fears. Running became extremely difficult and painful. I almost gave it up. But through persistence, strength training, and learning from professionals about how the body changes as you gain weight and the baby grows, I made it through the rough patch and was able to run a half marathon at 30 weeks pregnant!
What is the biggest thing you’ve learned along the way?
I’ve learned that I don’t have to give up who I am for this baby. Sure, I made it through a smaller set back with running, but my experience with running has given me the mentality that I can bring the baby with me through my journey. And that’s probably the best lesson I can teach my child – stay true to who you are and don’t give up, no matter the circumstances.
What motivates you most?
I love problem solving. I think it’s my superpower. This is because I will keep working at something until I figure it out. Tell me it can’t be done, and I’m even more excited to solve it — those kinds of problems motivate me!
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in learning from other companies that use data science, technology, and a deep understanding of their customers to help them live better lives. To me, data science is all about simplifying — making something that is complicated seem effortless. In the world today, there are so many choices. And companies like Stitch Fix, Netflix and Instagram (to name a few) all leverage data science to simplify the overwhelming amount of choice and help you find things like the perfect clothing to wear, movie to watch or feed to follow. Time is precious right? Especially when all you want is to look good, feel confident and be healthy. That’s why I’ve set out to use data science and a passion for learning from our customers to try and make it easy for women to find the perfect clean makeup.
What are your biggest passions?
Outside of running I am very passionate about interior design and home renovation. My husband and I have taken two of our houses down to the studs and built them back up. We rarely hire outside help because we love to get our hands dirty and do the hard work ourselves. We both love design and architecture. Living in a home that we built with our own hands brings me tremendous joy.
Kimberly Shenk is the co-founder of NakedPoppy, an online beauty company