Veteran Entrepreneur Spotlight:

Holly Mosack

What is the most mortifying thing you can imagine happening in public?

It’s an exciting day for you. You’re competing in a CrossFit event, and time is ticking down. You’ve already worked through your safer weights, but there’s time to go for a PR squat clean. There’s a cheering crowd. Your twelve-year-old son and husband are among the loudest supporters. All eyes are on you. You adjust your grip and set your hips.

You know in your bones you can hit this. You want your son to see you get this weight up. You want him to see that hard work pays off, and that his momma is strong. You want to do it for yourself, too. You’ve worked hard. You take a deep breath and let it out. Your head goes clear. There’s just you and the weight.

You tighten your grip on the barbell. This is it.

You exert as much controlled force as you can. It’s coming up! It’s only a moment before it’s resting on your shoulders and you’re in the squat position, ready to finish the lift. You can really feel the weight. Just a little more! You try to push your feet through the floor with your legs, and you feel yourself rising tall. Some liquid splats into the mat. Are you really sweating that much? You’ve been lifting heavy for five straight minutes. Focus on the weight, finish the lift. In a last great effort, you grunt and lock out the lift. You shout in triumph, living in your power to move heavy things. You drop the weight, letting it slam with a satisfying bounce on the padded floor.

The crowd is strangely quiet. You search the stands for your sons’ face. He isn’t looking at you with pride the way you had imagined. It looks more like confusion.

What is going on?

You look down. The puddle beneath you is huge. Way too big to be from sweat. Your leggings feel too warm, too wet. Oh my God, you think. That’s not sweat. Your face reddens, you get yourself offstage. You feel ashamed in what should be a winning moment. It’s not fair. How could this happen?

Holly’s Military Experience

Holly joined the Army in 1997 as an officer through the ROTC program out of Illinois’ prestigious Northwestern University, where she majored in broadcast journalism. Her first posting was to the legendary 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell. She then transferred to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the Night Stalkers, recently known for the 1993 helicopter shootdown incident in Somalia. There, she served as the Public Affairs Officer during the filming of Black Hawk Down, which explored the crash and race to rescue the crew.

Then the events of 9/11 unfolded, and Holly’s military experience got very real. She deployed with the 160th to Uzbekistan, which airlifted troops over the Hindu Kush Mountains into Afghanistan (Read some of her work here, as Captain Holly Turner). When she got back from deployment, she transferred to Fort Bragg and served as an Operations Officer. Finally, she was named a Company Commander in the historic 82nd Airborne Division, a role she served during Operation Iraqi Freedom I, leading soldiers in Iraq. She separated in 2004.

24% of women aged 18-44 experience episodes of urinary incontinence.

Physical stress urinary incontinence is the most common type, and there are a number of studies and stats on the issue. This means that for some women, every cough, laugh, and sneeze comes with the risk of needing to change clothes. This is to say nothing of exercise, which can create even greater intraabdominal pressure that leads to such episodes. It’s an even more prevalent issue during pregnancy, after childbirth, and menopause.

Holly Mosack’s urinary incontinence episode at a Cross-Fit Games event made her determined to find a solution for women. In a world where an issue this common is so widely misunderstood and carries so much social stigma, she felt women, especially athletes like herself, needed an answer that carries more dignity than a bulky adult diaper.

In response, Holly created Moxie Fitness Apparel, an athleticwear clothing line that hides leaks, empowering women to make a much more graceful exit after an episode.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

In 2013, Holly and her husband, who is also a veteran, were missing some of that connection and camaraderie that comes with military service. They were both still fit and enjoyed working out, and decided to launch a CrossFit gym. They hoped it would create a community and environment they were both looking for. Holly felt inspired, being around so many strong women, and really got involved in the CrossFit community, and entering competitions.

It was while setting a personal record squat clean that she had a urinary incontinence episode. Her husband, a CrossFit coach, encouraged her to shrug it off and keep going in the moment and afterward, but the more Holly researched, the more she realized she wasn’t alone, and that there has to be a better solution. The more she explored her options, the more frustrated she became. Leggings, the dominant athletic and leisurewear option for women for the past several years, aren’t meant to be worn with underwear, let alone the more bulky undergarments meant to address urinary incontinence. Liners, pads, and even wadded up toilet paper are uncomfortable, especially during the athletic movements common to CrossFit.

She was determined to find a more dignified answer. In 2018, Holly teamed up with students in the textile department at North Carolina State University, as part of their senior project to see if it was possible to create absorbent leggings that made a separate layer solution unnecessary, but were still chic, comfortable, and easy to clean. The project was successful. Holly founded Moxie Fitness Apparel in 2019, and has been on a mission to expand Moxie’s offerings and availability ever since.

Connecting With Bunker Labs

Holly had known about Bunker Labs since a year or so after its founding in 2014, not long after she got into CrossFit. She felt a bit intimidated by entrepreneurship programming. She felt a bit of imposter syndrome, like if she joined, she’d be the “worst” entrepreneur in the group, and that it’d be full of people with formal training and loads of experience. She really wasn’t willing to drive hours away for what she was sure would be a negative experience.

In the meantime, she was trying to get her company up and running. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic made it nearly impossible for her to get her leggings manufactured and shipped to stock it on her web store. She felt stuck in this endless soft-launch phase, waiting for market conditions to stabilize so she could confidently promote her products and get things rolling.

 

It was near the end of the pandemic when Holly heard Bunker Labs started offering online cohorts. She was at her wit’s end with supply chain issues, and figured it couldn’t hurt to give Bunker Labs a chance. She first applied for the Breaking Barriers in Entrepreneurship (BBiE) Women’s cohort in 2022. She had such a great experience there, she went on to apply for Veterans in Residence (ViR), and joined the 22B virtual cohort. At the time, ViR was a six-month program largely focused on helping veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs build networks, hold each other accountable, and share awareness of opportunities. She found that most of her fears were unfounded, and made friendships with peers that have survived long after the programming.

 

I was initially so intimidated to join a Bunker Labs program. But, once you talk to them, you realize you’re all trying to make it, and everyone is struggling with something. And just to hear about what they’re struggling with, it makes you feel like it’s okay to share what you’re struggling with. And then it’s just such an encouraging atmosphere, where everyone wants to see you win. It’s not a competition.”

Holly Mosack

CEO & Founder, Moxie Fitness Apparel

Open For Business

Holly put a lot of what she learned at Bunker Labs to the test. She applied for a variety of grants after her experience, and has won approximately $40,000 in grants across a few different opportunities. These were welcome relief from an extended, seemingly never-ending search for a reliable manufacturer.

What’s more, she’s opened herself up to more entrepreneurship program opportunities. During her Bunker Labs experience, a speaker from Macy’s told the cohort about a workshop opportunity. Holly beat out 900 other applicants to join the cohort that started in April 2023, and it was a huge success. Her experience there culminated in a deal to have Macy’s carrying Moxie Fitness Apparel. She’s also tried other entrepreneurship programs and events, including the Bank Tank Pitch Competition, where she was a finalist.

Holly is currently in the process of getting Moxie into Kohls, and preparing to launch a properly optimized Amazon store. She’s also been selling direct to consumer at CrossFit Games events, renting booth space. She’s thrilled to finally get past her initial, Covid-exacerbated production woes, and focus on marketing and retail relationships that drive revenue growth and get her product out to the women who need it. She recently had an interview feature Bold Journey.

It’s Your Time

Veterans in Residence is a peer-facilitated, six-month business incubator that provides veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs a networking community, business skills, and opportunities to help grow their business.
Breaking Barriers in Entrepreneurship is a virtual workshop series that facilitates business growth and support within AAPI, Black, Latinx, and female veteran and military spouse communities. The eight-week workshop is designed to create an immediate impact for early to growth-stage businesses by providing access to business tools, resources, capital opportunities, mentorship, and a stronger peer network!
As of January 2024, Bunker Labs is now a part of Syracuse University’s D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). In addition to ongoing Bunker Labs programming, we’d encourage you to browse IVMF’s deep wealth of entrepreneurship programming, much of it available virtually or at locations across the country. Find the program to help your business take the next step today!