Kyla: Thriving as an entrepreneur amidst the pandemic
Say hello to Kyla, our first featured wildflower! Kyla is a road cyclist and a young entrepreneur. During the pandemic, the nationwide lockdowns, lack of access to suppliers, and other problems, made it challenging to keep her woman-owned business afloat. To Kyla, the willingness to adapt was key, and at the end of it was able to help G&H Botanical thrive while also nurturing her love for cycling.
We sat with Kyla over a virtual meeting to talk about running her business and what cycling means to her. Get to know Kyla more and what makes her a wildflower by reading the full story below.
WHEN DID YOU START CYCLING
Actually, I don’t really remember, but I always knew how to ride a bike because my dad is a competitive cyclist. Around 2012, I was in college and had just quit cheerleading (having done it since high school), but I needed another form of exercise. I tried going to the gym but it just wasn’t the same — it didn’t have the challenge I was looking for. So I decided to finally try biking a bit more seriously.
It was purely for exercise at the start and I wasn’t really consistent until a few years ago. I don’t know what happened but my dad bought me an entry-level road bike. At the same time, my boyfriend started getting into it too. Then suddenly, like a switch, I got obsessed.
I used to wear arm warmers and leggings all the time. I also had the neck gaiter which made it hard to breathe. I was really trying to not get dark, but eventually, I embraced the tan lines as a badge of honor!
I guess riding with my dad, my boyfriend, and most of their friends who are really strong gave me good training rin kasi no choice, you have to try your best to keep up. Even until now, actually, I’m usually the only girl! Nothing wrong with that, but that’s also why I’m trying to find more women to ride with and why I really advocate for women’s cycling.
STARTING A BUSINESS
I used to have a corporate job, but I quit around two years ago. I couldn’t really bike as much and I would only bike on the weekends cause we had a lot of late nights. It just didn’t fit my lifestyle, so I decided to start my own business. I started selling plants, which I also got obsessed with, but later on focused on fertilizer, soil, things like that. Now, I mainly sell plant supplies and I’m really proud of what I get to do and how I’ve grown my business.
BUSINESS DURING THE PANDEMIC
It was great because the plant industry boomed during the pandemic, but it was definitely still not a walk in the park, like with any business. Being able to get the supplies, to travel, and just the logistics of everything completely changed because at the start of the pandemic we couldn’t really go out. So, thank God for on-demand local courier services because otherwise I wouldn’t know how I would have been able to continue to grow the business.
I tried my best to adapt to the situation: the new normal. If you weren’t able to change the way you were handling your business, it may be very difficult for you to keep your business alive. You have to be able to adapt or die. Sadly, that’s how it is.
It was initially hard to be able to talk to all these suppliers without meeting them personally, especially plant suppliers since it can be quite informal. Being able to build a relationship on the phone, let alone finding them, was so hard because a lot of them are not online. It was daunting but it made me more resourceful and learn more about the industry.
HOW HAS CYCLING PLAYED A ROLE DURING THIS PANDEMIC
Cycling really gave me balance. Throughout my whole life, I always turned to exercise as a way to not only release stress, but to feel better about myself. I always find that everytime after you exercise, even though it was painful or grueling, the endorphins that you get from challenging yourself really puts you on a high. It puts you in a good mood for the rest of the day.
Actually, at the start of the pandemic, I completely stopped cycling because I was super scared to go outside and none of us really knew what to do. I also had to stop running, which was so hard because I used to run every morning before work. So it was pretty taxing, mentally. Aside from not seeing your friends and family a lot, your routine, your lifestyle, just wasn’t normal.
In October, I started cycling again because we started learning from reliable sources and our doctor friends what the best practices of doing outdoor exercise were. We asked for advice on what we should do when we biked outdoors, and things like that. When I was finally back on the bike, my love for cycling grew even bigger. It’s one thing to get cooped up for a long period of time, but the payoff that followed — being able to finally go out and exercise with your friends and family — that gave me some sense of normalcy and it was very fulfilling.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity
Ways you can follow Kyla on social media
YouTube at Kylahorta
Strava at Kyla Hortaleza
Zwift at Kyla Hortaleza
Ways you can follow and support G&H Botanical
G&H Botanical Website