21st Century Thinkwear – Tillie and Kim Turley-Smith, A Mompreneur® Success Story

image of Kim Turley Smith
  • Published
  • March 18, 2015

Are you feeling down, uninspired, or just have a case of the blahs? Then you need to read this interview. Kim Turley-Smith is the founder of Tillie, a multifunctional piece of fabric that can be a bandana, scarf, scrunchie, hood, tube top, wristband, beanie or mask. Tillie is all of those things and more – a high-tech, breathable piece of  ‘thinkwear’ and Tillie is as versatile and interesting as the women who use it.

As for the woman who invented it, however, we’re blown away by the inspiring attitude that Kim has. With a thriving company and three growing kids, life is always going to be a balancing game, but to do it with such positivity and pure joy…well, it’s pretty amazing.

We asked Kim what inspired her to start her own company, what life is like with business and family commitments and what the future might hold for both.

What Inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
My father passed away at 51 years old. He always lived each day to the fullest, putting his family before work. He had a positive enthusiasm that he thankfully passed along to me along with the knowledge that life is short. This inspired me to make a promise to myself: Find something you are passionate about and work at that, because life is short. I have a husband and three great kids who not only have busy schedules of their own but are my 4 reasons for everything I do!!

If you truly love your work, it doesn’t feel like work!

image of a woman with pink boxing gloves and purple tillie thinkwear
Take Tillie on your journey to self-discovery. It breathes with you.

So what’s the best part of owning your own business?
There are two main reasons that I love owning my own business. One is it allows me the flexibility to be there for my kids after school, whenever they need me as well as get them to their after school activities. Second,

I am a creative person by nature and owning my own business allows me to put my creative ideas into action and see results fast.

Also, sitting down at the dining room table for dinner all together is super important to me and owning my own business means we can maintain this tradition as a family. I also love being able to collaborate with other entrepreneurs!!

Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
Morning. Wake up, check emails, get the kids off to school and hit the gym at Reebok CrossFit FirePower for a workout and an hour or two of coaching. I still love to coach Crossfit. It is an amazing community to be a part of and it is where the idea for all of my business ideas all started years ago.

Afternoon. Filling Tillie orders, delivering Mighty Girl school program, working on new designs for Tillie, networking for Tillie, working on new program idea designs, planning Fall Fit Women’s Weekend (a year-long process), planning for upcoming shows, trade shows, talks or conferences, hold in person and phone meetings, sometimes simultaneously while doing laundry, scrubbing floors, and making dinner!! I also need to fit in a visit to my mom each day as she is disabled and needs a daily check in.

image of Kim Turley-Smith and her family at the beach
Kim and her family taking time (and their Tillies) at the beach.

After School. Homework, sit down together as a family for dinner, off to hockey!! With three rep hockey players in the house, we can have up to 12 hockey days a week! At hockey I usually catch up on social media communications.
Evening. Check emails, write up a daily to-do list for the next day.

Wow, busy much?!  So who do you rely on for help? Or are you the do-it-yourself type?
This is one I know I need to work on! With no parents able to help I rely heavily on my husband when he can. Also, now that my kids are getting older, I am able to count on them to pitch in as well with the home and with each other. Really, I do tend to take on too much myself. Now, I try to really feel when the balance is tipping and then be honest with myself as to what I can take off my plate or even re-prioritize. I know that I have a few good friends and a huge community at Reebok CrossFit FirePower who would step in in a heartbeat, but I am NOT good at asking for help!

image of a women wearing a Tillie while working out with a kettlebell
Sweating it out with Tillie and the kettle bell.

Has that meant making sacrifices for the family or the business?
I think sacrifice is a part of life! Yes, I have missed some of my kids events that I really wanted to attend because I had work commitments. However, I definitely have said no to some work opportunities to be at a family event. I strive for balance. I look way ahead in the calendar when I book a show, or a conference as I want to make sure there are not too many in a row where I would be overextending myself. None of this stresses me out at all. I can only do so much. My family comes first and that will never change. It’s all about balance, and keeping the stress level below “crazy”.

What do you like to do on a day off?
With a full day off, the one thing I want is family time! So this means family game night, movie night, a hike, visiting extended family and sometimes traveling together to watch one of their hockey games!! Even on a day off, my wheels are always turning and you can always find the notes section of my phone open and papers in my purse filled with my new ideas, and more!!

image of a woman doing yoga andwearing tillie thinkwear
Tillie thinkwear. Or just…….be…….wear.

It almost seems crazy to ask with all that you do, but do you find time to be active in the community in other ways?
I still coach at my local Crossfit, help out at my children’s schools and on my kids hockey teams where I can. I love connecting with people in person around town!

Can you name another entrepreneur that inspires you?
OPRAH!!!! She was actually a huge reason why I started my own business! It’s a very long story! So I sometimes say, “It always starts with Oprah!” Also, so many of my friends and women in my own community inspire me. My own best friend has a clothing line she designs out of Oakville. I love the band of collaboration and support that happens when you put female entrepreneurs together!!

image of kim turley-smith and her husband
For Kim Turley-Smith, family comes first.

What does the future look like for you and Tillie?
I honestly don’t think about the future too much, and I stress about it even less. I can’t predict it and it does no good to worry about it. I am not even promised it!! But I will be working hard to build a cohesive brand around “Tillie”, that inspires through the Tillie and other thinkwear, retreats, talks, camps, and more!!  Our retreat series, Fall Fit Women’s Weekend, is expanding and will include 3 getaway options in 2016!! (Spring Fit in Mexico coming soon!)

We also look to expand our Mighty Girls program, offering franchise opportunities worldwide so that this important program can be offered to more girls!!

Lots happening! We’ll be watching! Finally, any tips for other women looking to start a business?
Feel the fear and do it anyway! If your business idea is in line with your values, there is no stopping you as it will always be authentic! Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, just be you!! Enjoy the flexibility and carve out more family time, you deserve it!!


FS Local has partnered with the Mompreneur® Showcase Group Inc. (Mompreneurs®) in an effort to share the inspiring success stories of working moms who never gave up on their dreams and embraced the challenges of both owning a business and raising a family.

We feature regular interviews with Canadian moms and explore  what it takes to succeed at home and in the workplace.


Content Manager at FS Local

Jesse is a typical class clown. Born and raised just north of the Toronto, he fell in love with the City on school trips to the ROM and the Science Centre. He tried Vancouver for a few years, but the call of home was too strong to resist. Today he lives in the North-East Upper Beaches. (What? It’s a thing!)

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