When we first met many years ago, Kim’s children were small and in school, but even then she held a vision in her heart, and it was huge. There were a lot of nay-sayers in her midst (“You could never do that here!” types), but Kim began building her community right where she was. At first she invited women into her home for spirited dinners and discussions. She led groups on tours to her native New Zealand and taught yoga postures to tots.

Back then she and I mapped out a plan, talked about real estate availability and always kept in mind Kim’s bigger picture contribution to Fairfield County–creating a place where people can gather and have fun. She continued to develop her vision step-by-step and opened up a seasonal kayaking shop in downtown Rowayton a few years later.

I watched Kim’s progress via e-newsletters, signs about town and at networking events. Last year she made the commitment to open a year-round kayaking, SUP (stand up paddle board) and surf shop in Westport. No small feat! Kim’s vision carried her through as she dealt with bankers, marketing and PR companies, graphic designers, merchandisers, store managers, guides for her tours, website developers and social media strategists.

She confronted challenge after challenge from financial and business planning, zoning regulations and keeping up employee morale during this long, dark winter. Throughout, Kim made sure she took time to care for herself, the golden goose, so that as the leader of this enterprise, she was continuously coming from a place of great strength and courage, which she did.

Last night was the party for friends and family. I’m honored to be standing in the Westport DownUnder Kayaking store next to Kim in this photo where she’s also surrounded by her sister and daughter. It takes a team of good men and women, and Kim has carefully selected with whom to surround herself. She has an extraordinary staff and devoted followers.

I plan to go kayaking at DownUnder over the holiday weekend because fun is definitely on my agenda. Hope to see you there, Mates.

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