#WomenOfAce: Meet Kim McMullen

Kim McMullen realizes the impact having a strong female role model can have on you while growing up. Motivated by not having that herself, she has created a space where girls have access to resources, tools, and the support they need to truly step into their own.

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ACE: What are you up to? ( Your current hustle )

Kim: I’m busy making a dream a reality, which is pretty much the most difficult, brilliant, heart-exploding, nerve-racking, incredible thing I’ve ever done. It’s called Girl In The Wild. It’s an organization that sends teenage girls to an alpine camp for free. Using adventure-based learning, they build confidence, bolster solid support networks, and gain self-love. The purpose? To give as many girls as possible access to the resources, tools, love, and support she needs to love the heck outta herself, show up in the world confidently, and rise.

ACE: Why is this important to you? ( Where did this passion come from? )

Kim: I didn’t have these resources growing up - I spent three decades of my life in perpetual self-loathing, self-deprecation, and competition with other girls and women. I chose to hide instead of shine. I chose to recoil instead of leap. I thought I was worthless for a really long time and this impacted the decisions I made growing up. For instance, for a girl who loves to swim, I didn’t wear a bathing suit for 24 years, because I thought it was a disservice to those around me. I mean, who wants to see dimply cheeks, right? It was all really negative.

Through adventure, mountaineering, hiking, running, and nature in general, I found my way to self love. And proudly cannonball in lakes all the time! And I thought: What if I had access to strong female role models growing up? What if I had learned that women are friends not foes? What if someone had asked if I was okay and then held space for me when I wasn’t? What if I had a cheerleader in my corner who knew I could do it even when I thought I couldn’t?

That’s what Girl In The Wild is. It’s all the things I didn’t have, because I don’t want a single other girl to minimize her potential because she thinks she is less. Not ever.

Ace: What was your dream job growing up? How do you think this has influenced who you are today?

Kim: I wanted to be a novelist. Writing was my safe place, me and my electric typewriter would work through shit all the time. It’s influenced me in that my writing has given me a voice and an opportunity to share my story and to be vulnerable on a larger scale. Which means, it forces me to walk the talk (which isn’t always easy, but this has been my catharsis). My words have set me free.

Ace: If you could describe yourself in only three words, what would they be?

Kim: Strong. Wild. Free.

Ace: Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

Kim: Myself. Which sounds pretty egotistical, I know, but I don’t mean it that way. I’m not this massive inspiration who does everything right. On the contrary. What I mean is that I am constantly surprised and amazed by my ability to walk tall through fire, to dig out of deep holes, to overcome obstacles. When I get through those limits or above those limits, I’m inspired, I’m full-up on self-love, and I am electric with pride. The more I am aware of my own bravery and strength, the more I am grateful for this body, this life, this opportunity.

Ace: What does the term “Boss Babe” mean to you?

Kim: Honestly, I don’t love this phrase. I think the word “babe” diminishes the power of boss. Men would never call themselves Boss Hunks. They’re just bosses.

Boss, to me, means in control, strong, a leader, a woman who inspires, a woman with the power to achieve greatness, a woman who is all of her potential and more. Before I’m a babe, I am strong, powerful, smart, interesting. You get the idea. Babe denotes an aesthetic compliment to me, which is great, but I am so much more than a babe.

Ace: How do you empower other women?

Kim: By supporting them. By choosing not to put other women down. By celebrating other women’s successes with genuine enthusiasm and realizing that their success is not a commentary on my inadequacy. I think it’s important that we create strong connections with other women, and choose to collaborate, connect, and always help each other rise.

Ace: What is the best advice you’ve ever received from another woman?

Kim: Pause. This seems so simple, but women tend to overcommit, multitask the heck outta life, and wear themselves thin, all while thinking they’re not doing enough, being enough, achieving enough.

Pausing is the bravest thing I do. It gives me the ability to step back and out of the wildness of life for a moment and realize how far I’ve come, how much progress I’ve made, how much momentum I have. There is beauty in the pause.

Ace: Can you share the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a failure?

Kim: Beautiful lessons show up in failures. My business was 3 days away from bankruptcy 10 years ago because our largest client went bankrupt while owing us over $100k. I stayed up all night trying to figure out how I was going to make payroll on Friday. I did not want this poor business decision to impact my team’s lives negatively. I showed up to work with bags under my eyes and a lump in my throat. There was no way I could pay the team. When I arrived, the team was sitting around the boardroom table: “We have a presentation for you.”

What happened next was the highlight of my career (in one of the lowest moments of my career). Every single person on the team provided an individual proposal that detailed the pay cut they could take to help save the business. They all talked to their husbands, partners, and families to see what sacrifices they could make to keep the business alive.

In this failure I realized I had created something exceptional: a family, a business that had real heart, and a team that could rise above. This failure highlighted my success and inspired me to dig deep, leave no stone unturned, and walk tall through the fire—without accepting a single offer to cut people’s pay.

Falling down opens up opportunities to rise higher. Fall back one step, walk forward two. You only stay down if you can’t see the lesson, if you can’t see the win. What I’ve learned is that you can always fail forward.

Ace: When you are feeling overwhelmed, what do you do to find peace?

Kim: The mountains. I give my overwhelm to the trees and breathe.

Ace: What legacy do you hope to be remembered for?

Kim: I’m not a fan of legacies so much as I am of living presently and with intention. Sure, I hope people remember me fondly and say great things about me, but that really doesn’t matter because it’s about so much more than me. If my name disappears into the earth when I’m going, I’m okay with that.

More than a legacy, what I really want is for my time here on this planet to be intentional. I want to use the time I’m lucky enough to get to set an example for others on how to live joyfully and with kindness, free and with intention. I want to live to my fullest potential and be my best self while I’m here. Which I think, in turn, will impact other’s positively. If I can achieve that, the legacy part will work itself out.

Ace: Where can we find out more about you so we can continue to support you?

Kim: You can see what I’m up to on my social channels or visit our website. All Girl In The Wild t-shirts, tanks, and leggings sold online fund our free camps for girls. So they’re not just rad sustainably designed and manufactured apparel, they’re love and self-confidence for young girls. Get something for you, and give something to the next generation too.

Stay connected with Kim: @kimberleymcmullen | @girlinthewild