Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mariska Breland, Co-Founder and Creator of Fuse Ladder, located in Washington, D.C., USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Fuse Ladder is a fitness apparatus that combines several pieces of gym and Pilates equipment into one. It's stall bars with a souped-up Pilates Tower, Pilates ped-o-pull, and pull-up bars, and it has attachments and accessories from the Pilates Cadillac. It can also be used for a TRX or other suspension training system. Our customers are Pilates studios, physical therapy clinics, and boutique fitness studios/gyms.

Tell us about yourself

I have been teaching Pilates for 20 years, and the idea for Fuse Ladder came from the goal of creating something that would differentiate our studio from others. I don't believe that there are enough standing and balance exercises in traditional Pilates classes. I don't think barre classes are functional. I wanted a class/apparatus that could teach the toughest workouts and still be beneficial for people with movement challenges.

I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in my 20s, and I have a speciality in working with clients with neurological conditions, so having something that could be helpful to that population (in addition to my core student population of athletic movers) was important to me.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

If you had told me that I would one day design a fitness apparatus, get it patented, and build distribution around the world, I would never have believed it. This is a huge plot twist for the kid who did anything to get out of gym class. So I think the entirety of Fuse Ladder's existence is my biggest and most surprising accomplishment.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Well, the pandemic certainly wasn't easy... and then following that, the supply chain issues. So I would say the hardest things are the things which you have no control over. And there are a lot of those things that come up, and they are things you can imagine and things you can't. You have to be able to pivot and be stubborn about keeping going when things get tough.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. You need a presence on the web and social media. There is nothing more important for marketing than a quality email list.
  2. It helps to know people. Our initial sales were all from people who knew me or knew of me from my time teaching Pilates and teaching it at other studios and conferences and on websites that expanded my reach beyond Washington, D.C.
  3. If you're selling a product or service, it's crucial to deliver on your business promises.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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