Boss Women: Highlighting businesswomen in Eau Claire

Kim Larsen of kimbentley transformed her fitness fashion blog into a marketing platform for local wellness businesses

Taylor Reisdorf

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March 25, 2020

Over a Crave 80/20 aloe shot, steaming cup of tea and tasty nutritional shake, Kim Larsen of kimbentley told the tale of how her fitness fashion blog evolved into the health and wellness marketing platform it is today.

The kimbentley that exists today helps community members navigate Eau Claire’s extensive health and wellness scene, Larsen said. The platform functions as an accessible one-stop compilation of Eau Claire’s many wellness businesses and opportunities.

It all started three and a half years ago, Larsen said. Fitness has always been a major part of her life, and, at the time, she was participating in a wide variety of local group fitness classes. At these classes, other participants started asking where Larsen got her workout clothes.

These inquisitions encouraged Larsen to start a fitness fashion blog, she said. She decided to name it kimbentley — a hybrid of her name and the name of her dog-turned-brand-mascot, Bentley — and started posting on her website, Instagram (@kimbentleyfit) and Facebook about her fitness fashion finds.

The transformation from blog to business happened organically, and almost by accident, Larsen said. Two weeks after the website launched, Larsen was featured on WEAU 13’s Hello Wisconsin for Fitness Friday. This is what inspired her to turn away from fashion and focus on fitness, Larsen said. kimbentley is still featured every Friday.

Larsen said while she had an idea about what she wanted Kimbentely to do, she didn’t go into the process with a full-fledged business plan. Instead, she listened to what people wanted and needed and accommodated accordingly. She trusted her gut and followed her heart, she said.

kimbentley follows a “three-prong approach,” Larsen said. The first “prong” of the business aligns with its roots as a blog. kimbentley still provides the same motivation and information to its followers that it has from the start.

“We really do help inspire people,” Larsen said. “People are engaged in what we do. Everyone is interested in becoming healthier.”

The second “prong” of the platform — the one that officially established kimbentley as a marketing company — pertains to its partnership with, and promotion of, local wellness businesses, Larsen said. The addition of this facet spurred the start of kimbentley’s various events, programs and giveaways.

“It’s all about exposure,” Larsen said. “kimbentley is a big puzzle … by the time you put (all of the pieces) together, they work synergistically so it all makes sense.”

The largest kimbentley-organized event is the Fitness Expo, Larsen said. This year’s Fitness Expo took place Sept. 15. It featured 100 booths, offered free fitness classes and handed out more than $10,000 worth in prizes and giveaways.

The last, and most recently added, “prong” involves kimbentley’s aim to help non-wellness companies establish and market their own wellness programs for their employees. This aspect of Larsen’s business should be solidified by 2019, she said.

Larsen said she’s faced plenty of challenges and has committed a lot of time to her brand. In preparation for the Fitness Expo, Larsen said it wasn’t unusual for her to put in 60-80 hours a week. “I’ve never worked so hard in my life,” Larsen said.

Her hard work has paid off.

While Larsen has built her brand almost entirely on her own, she does have an intern — Heather Hartwick, a UW-Eau Claire student — who has been with her this past year. Larsen also has started adding ambassadors to help promote kimbentley.

Melissa Nguyen is one of those recently-added ambassadors. Nguyen said she and Larsen connected while working out. She said she appreciates all that Larsen does to help Eau Claire community members and businesses improve themselves.

“The wonderful thing about kimbentley is you can find health and fitness no matter what level you are,” Nguyen said. “I know for a lot of people it can be intimidating to pick any gym and start working out, but with kimbentley you have the right information about all the local gyms in the Chippewa Valley. … Kim and her brand is all about helping everyone find a path to a healthier lifestyle.”

In terms of the future, Larsen said she has ideas in mind but doesn’t currently have concrete plans. She said she hopes for kimbentley to continue growing organically based on the community’s needs.

Larsen also said she wants kimbentley’s reach to expand to people of all demographics, and maybe even go beyond the Eau Claire area. A major goal Larsen has is to find a perfect balance between business ownership and self-care.

Reisdorf can be reached at [email protected].