In Conversation with Caroline Zelder of AF1Z

Caroline Zelder_Blog Header

Describe your business in a few words?

AF1Z (Air Force One Z) is a Stylish Travel, Workout and Everyday lightweight, antimicrobial jumpsuit.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

Covid-19, because my mom is a heart transplant recipient and I wanted to come up with a product that could better protect her during these times.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

I am a writer/director and I was in the midsts of directing my second movie when Covid hit and my job came to a halt, so this was the perfect time to put my energy to good use and come up with an idea that could help better protect people when they went to the store, doctor’s office, or if they had to travel by plane or take the bus or subway to work.  My mom’s situation inspired me to create something special – fashionable, functional and eco-friendly – our jumpsuits are made 100% from recycled plastic bottles.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Yes, since I was a kid.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

I came up with the idea for the Air Force One Z (AF1Z) this past summer 2020 while on a run and within 5 months we had the product designed, eco-friendly material made and the jumpsuit manufactured, our website built (www.af1z.com) and now we just launched on Amazon yesterday.  It’s all going so quickly and so much fun.  I had no real marketing strategy, I’m going by the seat of my pants, learning as we go, this is a first for me, I’m a filmmaker by trade, so I’m telling a story and getting it out there with wonderful people like you.  Everyone who has received our AF1Z jumper so far has loved it, I am so happy about that, you never know if anyone will like what you create, but it’s coming from an inspired place and created with love, and my mom, fiancé, niece and her partner are all a part of the team.  We are having a great time creating something new.

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

Give me a few months to answer that one; so far everything has been going quite smoothly, except getting up on Amazon, who knew that would be our biggest challenge to date 🙂

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

The jumper itself, we worked so hard to make sure that it would be made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, even our mailers and labels are eco-friendly (they are both compostable) and the design and color – as a family we went through so many color choices and different elements to the design and we are all so happy with the way it turned out. It’s super cute, stylish, so comfortable and functional, we have never done anything like this before, my fiancé, mom and I are all in the film business and my niece and her partner run an animal rescue – so this was not in our wheelhouse.

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

Hire your family 🙂 The team is our family, AF1Z is completely run and financed by us, with Covid-19 we not only can not hire people, but our budget is so tiny that we all work for free as a family.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Well Covid-19 was the reason we came up with the idea for the Air Force One Z in the first place.  Our jobs came to a halt and I wanted to come up with a way to help better protect my mom when she had to go out to a doctor’s visit or grocery shopping. Hence the AF1Z was born.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

Good question, well after Covid is over, we still plan on keeping the antimicrobial element to our jumpers for travel, but we would love to branch out and create different styles of jumpers for leisure wear. There’s nothing more comfortable than a cozy onesie, so we are talking about different styles and materials for expanding our AF1Z brand.  They are also great jumpers to wear jogging, my mom wears hers everyday walking and I wear mine when I go running, it works up a good sweat, helping me take off my Covid 10 🙂

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

To always keep my head up and hold a positive attitude.  It’s been an extremely difficult year for us as a family and so tragic for so many people, so the only thing we can do when tough times hit and tragedy happens is look forward and figure out how we can make things better.  I’d love to change the past, but that is a futile wish, so we just look to the now and how we can make things better today.

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

My family and doing this endeavor together.

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

Absolutely. My best tip, one that I remind myself constantly, is to find the joy in the moment, whatever I am doing there is always something good to be found. Life and work for me have always gone hand in hand, I can’t do something that for the most part doesn’t bring me joy, it doesn’t mean that there are not extremely difficult parts to my work, but we spend so much of our life involved in our jobs that it is a huge part of our life and as such we must find the joy in it everyday or eventually find another job.

If you are not happy in your work life, it’s often hard to be happy in your home life or everyday life, I know it is easier said than done, because we have responsibilities to provide for ourselves and families, but keep an eye open for a job or opportunity that will bring you more happiness, we have the ability to change at anytime in our life. It’s scary, but it’s always worth it in the long run…. or short run too as we are hoping with our new venture 🙂

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

Hmmmm that I love to nap. The power nap changes everything in my day, when I’m feeling unproductive, unmotivated, a bit down… a good nap really changes everything for me, it shifts my perspective, somehow I wake up and see things differently.

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

For me it’s absolutely these 3 things: Eat healthy (I’m vegan), but eating more fruit and vegetables actually does change your mental and physical capacity for productivity. Exercise is a must, walk, run, stretch, do something physical. And number 3 relax, meditate, quiet time just for you, no phones, no kids, no noise.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

It means being creative, figuring out new ways to present an idea, it means collaboration, it means having a good time.

Share it!

Posted in
Tags

Leave a Comment





How to achieve a life of financial freedom with Alisha Pennington of ATvantage Athletic Training

Describe your business in a few words? Empowering, Dynamic, and Comprehensive. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I have been a business owner in a very niche industry (athletic training) for almost 10 years, so I have experienced the freedom and flexibility that comes with being a business owner. My…

How Jenny Strebe used positive affirmations and crystal healing to create her modern haircare brand AIIR Professional

Describe AIIR Professional in a few words? A modern haircare brand that is focused on well being through positive affirmations & crystal healing. What made you take the leap to start your own business? As I was driving every aspect of my stylist business and social media facets, the peace and relief I found in…

How FLyQuest CEO Tricia Sugita is using the esport platform to affect real change and make people happy

Describe your business in a few words? FlyQuest is an esports organization competing in the franchised League of Legends League Championship Series (LCS). What made you take the leap to help transform FlyQuest into the organization it is today? One of my primary goals throughout my career in esports has been to create a community…

Lauren Montgomery, founder of Monty’s, on making simplicity the new sophistication through her line of plant-based dairy products

Describe your business in a few words? Monty’s makes clean and craveable plant-Based essentials like cream cheese and butter that nourish your mind & body. With simplicity and nutrition at the core of the brand, Monty’s selection of cream cheeses and butter are made from real-food ingredients and crafted using time-honored techniques like fermentation. What…

How Maradith Frenkel turned bamboo into pajamas for the whole family with Little Sleepies

Describe Little Sleepies in a few words? We make buttery soft bamboo sleepwear that your whole family will love. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I saw a white space in the market after I had my son. I absolutely could not find a sleeper that checked all of the…

Erin Coles couldn’t find exactly what she was looking for in a band for her wedding so she launched her own — The Metropolitan Players

Describe your business in a few words? The Metropolitan Players is a wedding band collective based out of NYC – so we provide incredible music for weddings! What made you take the leap to start your own business? When my husband and I were planning our own wedding, we couldn’t find exactly what we were…

Azora Zoe Paknad on creating a new entry point to sustainability with Goldune

Describe Goldune in a few words? We make sustainability less beige! What made you take the leap to start your own business? I was into the sustainability world, personally and professionally, but I didn’t see myself in any of the dominant narratives I saw on Instagram or online in general. On one end of the…

Elisa Marshall on creating warm, French-inspired spaces with Maman, a collection of NYC-based cafés and venues

Describe your business in a few words? Maman is a New York City-based collection of cafés and event venues, offering family inspired recipes with French influences in a warm and welcoming home like environment  What made you take the leap to start your own business? Before I opened Maman, I had many passions and there…

Kim Hehir, co-founder of Brutus Broth, on enhancing your dog’s health through specially formulated bone broth

Describe your business in a few words? Brutus Broth is the latest innovation in pet health, made with human-grade bone broth that has been specially formulated to enhance any dog’s existing diet by adding beneficial nutrients, amino acids, and joint protecting supplements. What made you take the leap to start your own business? Sue’s dog…

How a lack of female empowerment in the real estate industry lead Marina Shiferman to create her business, The Real Estate Academy

Describe your business in a few words? I teach women how to buy and own real estate correctly so they can be the bad ass queens of their own lives. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I was a realtor for 10 years, I loved it but something was missing.…

Carla Olivia on revolutionizing the beauty bar experience with DashBar

Describe your business in a few words? DashBar is beauty made efficient! We are one stop beauty and wellness for the modern woman. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I have been an entrepreneur since I was 22 years old. I started my first business because a great opportunity was…

Christina Matteucci (a.k.a TeucciMama) on her 19-year tenure as the ultimate Number Two

Describe your business in a few words? I’m Christina Matteucci, Executive Director of David Beahm Experiences and proud “Number Two” to celebrity event designer David Beahm. I’ve produced legendary soirées all around the globe, but it’s my unique, 19-year tenure as the ultimate Number Two that qualifies me as a sought-after speaker and coach. In…

Niki Shadrow Snyder on coining the term “givefluencer” and making an impact with the Project Pop Drop foundation

Describe your business in a few words? My husband and I started the idea for the Project Pop Drop foundation on our first date. Our business sponsors a monthly drop off at a different homeless shelter each month. We spearhead these donation events with our children, and with local businesses and schools. We call this…

How Natasha Case of Coolhaus is disrupting the dessert space with cutting-edge ice cream creations

Describe Coolhaus in a few words? We are an innovative dessert company, specializing (for the time being) in ice cream/ice cream novelties. We are known for thinking outside the box, super unique partnerships, a truly cutting-edge brand identity and an inventive way of entering the marketplace with our trucks, brick and mortars, and now national…

How Jennifer Jolorte Doro used strategic partnerships to build Nouri from the ground up

Describe Nouri in a few words? Supporting people to feel their best. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I wanted something of my own. I’ve worked for many successful entrepreneurs and I knew I could do “it” my way and really enjoy it. What was your background prior to starting…