Michelle Huie // VIM & VGR

For those of us women entrepreneurs still in the fledgling stages of our careers, Michelle Huie is the type of gal who makes us say,

“I want to be like her.” 

She’s cool as a cucumber and smart as a whip. And, by the way, she’s generous. By the time we’d drained our drinks at Clyde Coffee in our town of Missoula, Montana, I’d virtually been given a short seminar on how to be a seasoned female CEO.

Michelle had a lengthy career in the healthcare field before she started her hit compression legwear company, VIM & VGR. At VIM & VGR, she and her rockstar team focus on providing style and function for people who work hard just like she does.

Here’s Michelle to tell you more about how she moves the world:


BB: Michelle, you created a fashion compression sock company called VIM & VIGR, which is, by the way, incredibly cool. How did you land upon that particular product?

MH: I moved to Missoula in 2011 and started in a pharmaceutical sales position. My geography was Montana and Idaho and after a few years into the position, I was complaining about my sedentary lifestyle and tired legs to a friend who happens to be a physical therapist. He recommended compression socks, but when I looked at available options, all I could find were medical or athletic products.

I ended up buying a pair and was underwhelmed by the comfort, quality, and style. Plus, they were very expensive. This really motivated me to start VIM & VIGR. I thought, if I had a need for a pair of cute, high-quality compression socks, I’m sure many other people could benefit from the product as well. I officially launched VIM & VIGR in late 2013.

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BB: I only recently learned how useful compression socks are (and how cool they can look). Who benefits most from VIM & VIGR’s products?

MH: People who sit or stand for long periods of time, so virtually everyone! We have such a large range of customers from people in the healthcare field who stand for long periods, like nurses and doctors, to millennials who want to be more proactive with their health, to frequent flyers.

BB: Anyone who owns a business knows it’s hard to separate your work from the rest of your life. Your partner teaches and studies American history at the University of Montana. Do you find that your jobs work their way into your home life? And if so, how do you navigate that?

MH: I don’t believe in work-life balance; I believe in work-life integration.  When you spend eight to 10 hours a day on something, I think it’s difficult to achieve true balance. I think it’s impossible to really separate the two.

This is why I’m always encouraging people in the early phases of their career to really work on something they love and are passionate about.

BB: You’re the head of a successful company, but I first met you at a workshop for entrepreneurs. Why is it important to you to keep investing in professional development?

MH: I’m constantly working on professional and personal development. I read books, listen to podcasts, and work with a professional coach. I really believe in having a growth mindset and constantly working towards improvement. Practice makes progress and it’s a never-ending journey.

BB: You and I talked about making tough decisions as a boss. What advice can you give other decision-makers about that task?

MH: As a company grows there’s a shift that happens when you not only think about all the employees but you have to think about the business as a whole. This forces you to have to make difficult decisions that may affect individuals within the company. And these types of decisions are what I lose the most sleep over.  I have to remind myself that I’m the main person who has to think about what the company needs to do. If I stop doing this many more people will be affected by my lack of action than my actions.

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BB: You’re super proud of the team you built at VIM & VIGR. What do you look for when you hire someone?

MH: I look for a few characteristics. The first thing I look for is the coachability of the person. Is this person willing to grow and improve? This could be difficult to tease out in an interview because people like to think that they’re highly coachable and adaptable. I like to frame the question like this:

“Tell me about a time when you received some constructive feedback. How did it make you feel and what did you do with the feedback?”

I love to incorporate follow-up questions to force the interviewee to add more depth to his or her answers.

The next thing I look for is resilience. VIM & VIGR is still a growing startup and there are a lot of ups and downs. Change can be exhausting and debilitating to some and it can be exciting for others. I try to look for people who are nimble and adaptable.

One of the most important thing that I look for is whether they will enjoy the work and make an impact on our business regardless of their level or position within our company. People want to have relevance and make an impact in their professional lives and I try to find out if VIM & VIGR and the position will help them achieve that.

BB: What motivates you?

MH: When I hear how much our product has made an impact on a customer’s life. We receive reviews and testimonials every day from customers and I feel so lucky that I’m able to provide a product that provides everyday wellness to so many people out there.


Get your own VIM & VGR compression socks here.


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Author Micah Larsen is a persuasion scientist and consultant. Her job is to teach people how to use subtle persuasion in their emails, conversations, and campaigns to get others to say “yes.”

Watch one of her short persuasion how-to videos of $9.97 value for free here using code:

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Mallory Ottariano // Kind Apparel

Mallory is a mover and a shaker. And as a mover and a shaker, she needed clothes that could move and shake, too, so she created Kind Apparel, a women’s adventure clothing company based out of Missoula, Montana.

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Mallory is wearing a Fjord dress of her own design. Get yours here.

Kind Apparel isn’t your run-of-the-mill clothing company (though her clothes are perfect for the runners among us). Mallory designs her own fabrics as inspired by nature and printed on recycled material made from plastic bottles.

Here’s Mallory herself to tell you more about how she moves the world:

BB: Tell me about Kind Apparel.

MO: Kind Apparel is a small women’s adventure clothing company. We design and make colorful and functional wearables for the outdoor-ist in you that are focused on celebrating the uniqueness of every woman. Our fabrics are what make our products special! Everything is made from stretchy Lycra that’s made from recycled plastic bottles and printed with my own graphics and artwork.

There is not a single solid colored fabric in our offerings and everything is very bold and very bright. Think psychedelic moonscapes, citrus fruits, paisleys, water reflections, and succulents.

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Kind Apparel skorts are designed for running, swimming, hiking, and backpacking.

BB: What do you do when you’re not working on Kind stuff?

MO: Honestly, these days I’m working most of the time, but I do make time for exercise every day, whether that’s in the gym or on a run during the week or a ski tour or bike ride on the weekends. I try to fit in as much skiing as I can during the winter/spring, and I play soccer all year round.

In the evenings, you can find me out on a Missoula trail taking my dog for a walk with my fiancê! I love to be in motion, whether that’s physically or just tackling many activities during a busy day. So when I’m not working, I’m usually moving in some capacity.

BB: What drew you to design specifically for women?

MO: Personal experience. I believe we can design best for ourselves, so as a woman it’s easy for me to know what is wanted and needed in the market. I also think — although this is certainly changing — that there is a significant lack of functional and technical yet cute clothing out there. Most women’s outdoor clothing tends to be available in frumpy fits and bland colors and I wanted to change that to include the colorful prints of lots of casual women’s clothing.

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BB: Have you ever had a “lightning bolt moment” or a sudden flash of inspiration?

MO: Yes! I had known I wanted to transition to custom printed fabric eventually, but when an opportunity dropped into my lap I certainly became inspired by how my company could grow.

On a backpacking trip, I was looking around at all the texture and color in the lichen on a rock I was taking a break on and I thought, “My prints should be inspired by nature and the amazing places where women are wearing the clothing I make!” So my next two collections have been entirely inspired by the natural world.

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Kind Apparel’s swim tops are reversible and versatile.

BB: Has being an entrepreneur changed you?

MO: Yes, in so many ways. It’s given me greater confidence. It’s taught me to be my own champion and cheerleader, and it’s taught me introspection and humility.

The most profound change is accountability. I used to, and still do, pass blame, decisions and challenges to everything and everyone but myself. But when you work for yourself and things go wrong or there are big problems, you must confront them.

There isn’t anyone else who can make the decisions that need to be made and any fault is almost always my own. I’m learning to own my mistakes and grow from them.

BB: What makes you feel like a badass?

MO: When I live up to my expectation of myself. Ha! I’m hugely competitive and set a very high bar for myself. It’s also an amazing feeling when I see women around Missoula — or abroad — wearing my clothing. Or when I introduce what I do and someone says, “Oh, that’s your company?! I have one of your dresses and I love it!”

I used to derive a lot of pleasure from physical or athletic accomplishments and as I get older this mentality and associated high do, too. Now, I feel like I badass when I see an impact I’ve created.

BB: What would you say to women who dream of starting an apparel company?

MO: It definitely sounds narcissistic, but I would say to anyone starting a business, “Put yourself first, love yourself the most, and believe in yourself the hardest.”

Certainly, you should have compassion and care for others, but no one is going to be as big of a supporter or believe in you as much as you will have to in yourself. You are your own best asset and the biggest tool to your success. Have confidence in that! Some people will dislike you and that’s totally okay.

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BB: What’s your dream trivia category?

MO: I am absolutely terrible at trivia. If there were somehow a category that allowed you to create your own questions and answers or a dream interpretation category I would be amazing at that. I’m good at bullshitting, but you can’t bullshit facts.

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BB: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

MO: I’ve been reading this incredible collection of stories lately that really inspire me as a creative woman in business. It’s In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney. If you ever need a pick-me-up or validation, you’re on the right track. The pages contain so many amazing stories of creative women living out their dreams and the journeys they’ve taken to get there.


Shop Kind Apparel and get your own unique, environmentally-friendly design by Mallory here.

Order In The Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs from your local bookstore or from Amazon here