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Michelle (Eld) Lowen ’17: A Self-made Entrepreneur Fulfilling Her Passion for Fitness

Written by Erika Ikeda

By Erika Ikeda ’21, Advancement Office Intern

Alumna Michelle (Eld) Lowen is the founder of the fitness apparel brand, Lowen Fitness. She received her Bachelor’s degree in 2015 and her Master’s in Business Administration in 2017 from St. Andrews University. Lowen Fitness sells a wide collection of high-quality clothes and accessories designed for a comfortable and joyful gym experience. (Click here to explore Lowen Fitness’s website.)

Michelle has a strong passion for sports, and she competed on the Equestrian team during her time as a student at St. Andrews. Michelle’s story evolved from her ability to take from her athletic and educational experiences and create a successful startup driven by her inspiring values and philosophy. 

The Equestrian program was what brought Michelle to St. Andrews. She majored in Business Administration for her bachelor’s degree, always knowing that she wanted to go into business. She said, “For example, in high school, my friend and I started a homemade bread business, and that gave me my first taste of being an entrepreneur. I also received the St. Andrews business scholarship and started the business club when I was a freshman.” 

Michelle’s experience as an equestrian at St. Andrews influenced her mission – to help others build self-confidence by achieving fitness goals. She said, “I have always been active because I believe it’s important to stay healthy and love being outside. My experience as an equestrian gave me the opportunity to have a team experience in a very individual sport.”

          
(Michelle receiving her undergraduate degree)                         (Michelle in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association competition)

After graduation, Michelle continued her education at St. Andrews to obtain a Master’s of Business Administration. “I wanted to pursue my MBA and work as an admissions counselor because I believed it would give me better opportunities after graduating, and I also loved living in North Carolina.”

Often required as a business major, group work added significant value to Michelle’s academic life at St. Andrews. Michelle said, “Going to a smaller college and having the opportunity to work with the same group of people to graduate together was inspiring. I enjoyed working with my classmates to put together presentations from Dr.Glass’s marketing classes to Professor Nicholson’s classes, where we diligently put together presentations and reports that pushed us to learn how to analyze and defend our positions. Through those experiences, we all bonded together and became friends.”

In 2019, Michelle launched Lowen Fitness: “I wanted to be a part of something that would combine my love of fitness with my business experience and need to support a bigger cause.” 

Her company’s mission has kept Michelle enthusiastic about her startup from the beginning. “For me, Lowen is about providing clothes that will make people feel confident in the gym no matter their fitness level. In addition to this, it was very important for me to pick a cause to support with my business. Once I found the ECPAT(formerly known as End Child Prostitution and Trafficking), I knew this was the cause I wanted to support and spread awareness for, so I decided it was time to launch the website and develop my vision. The ECPAT is an organization that is working to end the sexual exploitation of children by offering everything from shelters to support for survivors to training and support for law enforcement.”

The St. Andrews MBA program helped prepare Michelle for running her own business. She said, “My MBA was part of why I started my business; while I’ve enjoyed my job experience after college, I felt like there was something more I could be doing to utilize the knowledge and experience I gained throughout my education. My MBA really gave me all the tools I needed to be a successful startup, from completing all of the legal documents to setting up the business to knowing how to develop the brand and message. Also, all of my accounting classes with Professor Cornish have been crucial to managing Lowen’s finances.”

                             
(Michelle with St. Andrews faculty and staff)                                                      (Michelle at MBA graduation)

Her academic and professional experiences had a profound impact on Michelle’s current entrepreneurial success. “My career has provided me with a variety of skills from administrative to traditional marketing and now digital marketing. All of this experience combined with my education has helped me immensely to develop a successful awareness strategy to drive conversions and maintain a successful relationship with my customers.”

Michelle revealed challenges and joys that she did not know until she created a business out of something she loved. “The most challenging aspect has been sourcing quality materials that aren’t overpriced and ship quickly. This is something I haven’t had experience with until being a part of the clothing industry. I am still working to provide quality, comfortable clothes at the right price with fast shipping. Being a self-made startup has also been challenging because I don’t have the capital that other companies do. I put everything I can into my business and work my full-time job and compete in bodybuilding. However, it’s very rewarding seeing how much my customers love the clothes and are willing to support a small, self-made business.”

Michelle has dedicated her educational, professional, and athletic efforts to growing her own apparel business. Her ongoing ambitions will also continue to expand her impact on social issues where she wants to make a difference. 

 “Looking at the next 5-10 years, I am very excited for Lowen. We have a great group of athletes that represent the brand, and I’ve experienced overwhelming support from family and friends near and far away,” Michelle said. “My biggest hope is that I can continue to build my brand around a solid foundation of confidence, comfort, acceptance, and support for everyone who is trying to make themselves better in and out of the gym. I also plan to do more to support the ECPAT’s mission and spread awareness of sex trafficking.”