Kari Fulmek is an Elite+ Mompreneur® member based out of Calgary, Alberta. She is the Founder and Master Instructor at Equine Connection, an International Horse Certification Course with one-of-a-kind business training where she is dedicated to working with horses in a profound and inspiring way to help others. We are thrilled to be sharing Kari’s Success Story!
Tell us more about your business:
Equine Connection is a Global Equine Assisted Learning Business Training™ (EABT™) company that helps people to be empowered and change their lives while working with horses. We don’t just certify people; we work with individuals to achieve their desired success in the horse business field. Through our powerful Horse Course, you can start your new business offering horse programs with confidence; we believe that becoming a Certified Facilitator is about inspiring and helping other human beings to build strong skills, and Equine Connection offers proven programs with results.
Horse learning and horse work are the foundation for the success of the programs and learning how horses communicate with human beings. We work within a group format that focuses on ground activities rather than horseback riding. We value the well-being of the horse and know that a horse can only think like a horse, and that is what makes them the ultimate teacher. You don’t have to be a therapist or counsellor to run these objectively driven programs that come with your course. We do know, however, that whenever you work with these magnificent creatures, equine therapy exists.
The Certified Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator course is revolutionary and gives you everything you need to begin your own successful horse business! Your certification gives you unlimited help and support that never ends, as we must become an expert in our field. Along with your one-time investment, this includes the business package; business training; marketing with this horse field; how to secure and retain your clients, credentials and so much more. Starting on a new path in life can be scary but also very exciting, and with our ready-made business certification, you will know what to do with your certification. Whether you are an entrepreneur or have never started your own business, learn from the industry leaders how to use not only these extraordinary programs you receive but how to market them to your community.
What is your “WHY” behind your business/being an entrepreneur?
I swear I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was in diapers! I love the freedom and the creativity of being my own boss. My ‘why’ with Equine Connection is because I was searching for my ‘purpose’ to what I am bringing and leaving on Earth. I’ve had several successful businesses over the years, but some of those businesses were based on a ‘material’ purchase, and my heart was no longer into selling material items, even though yes, they did help women to feel great on the outside. I was searching for the beauty that lives within; I knew I wanted something that was solid, real and had so much purpose, and I wanted it to be with horses, however I really didn’t know what that looked like. I then found equine assisted learning where you work with the horse, but he is the teacher in all the programs you run the people through. It is based on educational and experiential skills programs that are facilitated within a group format and focuses on ground activities rather than horseback riding.
Voila! I found my purpose! I found the business that was going to be my last job on this beautiful Earth; my last breath would be doing my, ‘it felt like it took forever to find’ purposeful job, the job I was destined to do my entire life, knowing the journey I had to take in order to find it was going to benefit not only myself, but all of those human beings that have been waiting to be a part of this incredible life of working and learning from horses. Plus, it didn’t have anything to do with material items, but rather helping human beings to be empowered, to find answers to problems in their lives, and to know they are beautiful, gifted and talented in this very short life. This business has helped every person that has entered with solving their own problems. The best part is that humans are very smart and do have the answers in their lives, however life often gets in the way. We do too much over-thinking and then we start to lose ourselves; we lose who we are and can no longer figure out the ways to hear and listen to ourselves.
The horse is magnificent in hearing everything a person brings to him through thought (mind) and feeling (gut), and then the horse communicates through his body language with them and through this, they discover that they are amazing, they do have a gift, and they can solve their problems. Why? It’s coming from the horse instead of a person telling them what they have to do or change. People are tired of people telling them what they should do. The horse accepts all, and they cannot lie, nor can they ever judge a person, because they are a prey animal. Humans can lie and judge, but a horse is incapable of doing that as they can only think and act like a horse!
The parallels and connections between humans and horses are so strong, it’s uncanny. People can see themselves reflected in horses’ behaviour when they spend intimate time in their company. They can discover their deepest selves when they have the courage to look. So what does it say about those among us who are drawn to work and engage with horses on a daily basis? Are they given insight that the rest of us could use? Are they called to share another level of communication or awareness?
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I’ve worked for others since I was 12 years old and have always loved working and creating my great work ethics not just for the companies I worked for, but most importantly for me. I was really bad in school as I moved 25 times as a young person and found it very difficult to retain learning from books and meeting new people all the time. I felt stupid my entire years through school and was only a 50% student but worked my fanny off to finish and get my high school diploma. My mom started a framing business when I was 18, and I was intrigued by the idea of creating something that didn’t exist before and saw how powerful it was to be your own boss vs working for other people. There was also the piece of not having that same fulfillment when you own your own business of it just being ‘mine’, or making decisions to what would be better for the company as an employee.
The first business I started was with my mom, and it was beyond the most exciting thing in the world. To wake up every day to create a business that didn’t exist. I was a self-started and completely motivated to move forward all the time, and right then I knew, I could never work for another again. That alone drove me forward to continually move mountains and obstacles out of my way to make a business profitable and even if that business didn’t work it created me, my character, my tenacity, integrity and how one can just keep persevering no matter what comes at them! I SO LOVE BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR! And of course, I always felt empowered, unlike the feeling I had growing up in a school system.
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
FREEDOM! I love waking up every day knowing that I have the freedom to know how this day will look and feel. That I have the freedom to make a choice in what will be the first task to do, what moves this business forward and what it takes to continually learn and be ten steps ahead of my competition. I love knowing I can choose my own time off, my own vacation, just because today I choose not to work. I love life so much and know it’s such a gift to be here and to be able to live my life my way as opposed to being controlled by others. I feel like a millionaire every day not because financially I am, but, because I am the richest person in the world because I am living my life my way!
I find it absolutely invigorating when you really need to make some money you have the ability to create something your clients need, to bring in that money you are looking for.
What impact did other people/experiences have on you, and how did they help you get to where you are in your business today?
(1) Napoleon Hill’s book – ‘Think and Grow Rich’
The understanding that life was going to give back to me what I put into it was a significant realization. I interpreted this to mean that I was going to have to work very hard for what I wanted… and there were a few special things I desired. I’ve never been a stranger to hard work, and from this book I decided it was time to create a vision board of all the things, ideas and plans I had and keep it in the forefront of my being everyday! I also learned through this book that the mind accepts what we give it, so I pinned up around 50 recipe cards that were pure positivity and moving forward and read them every morning and every night, so that my brain was loaded with ‘it’s all possible’; I didn’t have to fight that inner voice saying it couldn’t be done.
(2) Faye Papke – my mom
When the word soulmate is tossed around, we tend to think of a man-woman relationship – a loving bond that is divinely inspired and sent for our deepest benefit and growth. It’s a beautiful concept – yet it’s a narrow way to look at it. There are many ways soulmates show up in our lives. They come to teach us, to challenge us, to love us unconditionally, to help us face our inner demons, to guide us into our best version of ourselves, even if we don’t know it. Soulmates don’t always stay with us forever. Many times they fulfill their time with us and then they’re gone. I can attest to that – for Faye, my mother was as deep a soulmate as they come.
Working many jobs to keep us children fed and the bills paid, Faye gave my younger brother Jimmy and myself the resilience to see that life required appreciation, caring and laughter to get through the struggles. Faye’s philosophy was, “Get up. Move forward. You can do anything you’ve ever wanted to do. Just move forward and try it again.” It was through witnessing my mom’s persistent and consistent actions that carved out a life and livelihood that I built a reservoir of strength within. Mom showed me how to value the people in my life by her own generous nature and the way she made everyone in her path feel special. Mom revelled in helping others – it was one of her biggest joys.
Having these values entrenched in her being gave me the courage to handle the more than 25 moves we would make over the years. Continually starting at new schools, making new friends, and often being picked on and teased were hardships that I took in stride. My mom kept me focused on the achievement part of events, leaving no room for feeling sorry for myself. Over the years, mom and I remained extremely close. Best friends, business partners, mother and daughter duo… we did everything together from real estate to tours, and lived with each other through most of it. Having fun was the key ingredient in all we schemed and dreamed of doing. For myself it was the greatest, most defining time of my life, apart from the other challenges I was living with through two marriages, having three babies and honing in on my career path. Mom was my rock, my cheerleader, my soul mate, a gift from above… and then when she died it changed my world. But, to this day she is with me, guiding me and keeping me on a path I am continuously supposed to move to and will always be instrumental in helping people and making a difference in this world.
As life provides when we most need it, I found and began what would turn out to be an eleven-year career with Weekenders – a women’s clothing business. Weekenders was a direct sales company. I built my team of women to over 100. It was a fabulous company; I would go to other women’s houses, I could be a stay-at-home mom, and I could put my kids to bed before I went to work. I was able to help other women feel great about the outfits they chose for their figures, to feel motivated, and to feel sexy. When I started doing the business, and everybody saw how much fun it was, other women wanted to own their own businesses as well. It turned out to be a beautiful tax write-off, and I was able to build my team very quickly. In fact, I was the first one out of our unit to become a sales manager. Becoming a sales manager was the greatest thing on earth because the company would fly you away to conferences every year where they would spoil you rotten and make you feel like you were appreciated. They taught us how to help the teams of women we recruited into the business to also become sales managers; to get more recruits, so they too were making additional income. I learned what made women tick. I learned that women were absolutely the most amazing creatures put on this earth, and I saw how determined and strong they are.
The things I learned through the training from this amazing company not only built me as a strong, persevering, tenacious woman but also helped other women who were struggling with so many issues in their own lives. I learned that you can’t motivate people, you can only help them so that they are motivated to help themselves. I learned that all dreams are absolutely possible in this amazing business. I learned that selling is an attitude and when you keep a great attitude you can sell anything to people who need and want it. I actually think having a great attitude in life and staying positive, with goals you hit and reach, is what I learned most from Weekenders. My biggest dream at the time was to be a businesswoman who travelled on an airplane with a briefcase… and that’s what I achieved with Weekenders.
What values do you believe in and live by, and how do they shine through when it comes to your role as a business owner?
My values are to have the highest of integrity in everything I do; to help people to find their empowerment to move forward in their lives; to help people understand they are a unique and gifted human being and there is no other like them; to build their self-esteem and self-worth as they can only do that – no other person can do that for them; to be honest in all I do whether it be running courses, programs, or marketing; to give more than I receive, to pay it forward to those in need, and to understand every person has a story which has made them who they are so not to be judgemental. I believe that it is crucial to LIVE in my moment! I know that I can die today and that knowledge helps me every day to live in the now instead of stressing about the future and leaving behind the past.
Because my business is all about empowering humans, my clients can not only hear it, see it and feel it through all I do to help them to help themselves move forward. It’s truly a privilege and humbling experience to be a part of a human being making changes right before your very eyes.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your business/being an entrepreneur?
I am beyond proud of the fact that it was just a thought for many years, searching to find that right ‘last business’, the perseverance to never give up on the thought that eventually lead me to the direction I was supposed to go in next. From that thought a global company was created, helping people all over the world to not only do what I do but to help clients to build skills in their lives and retain their learning to use in their lives. Helping people to empower themselves is so humbling, real and purposeful.
The other thing that I am extremely proud of is the fact that I can help someone not struggle, and be successful in making their business work! I went through the struggles, the hardships, and I don’t want people to have to experience that. I want people to be successful out of the gate, knowing what to do, and also have the ongoing support and community to help through those difficult times. It really has been my goal to make this a first class certification, because I’m not successful unless my students are successful.
What does the future look like for you and your business?
The future looks so bright, and fulfilling, filled with paths that will be unbroken and less travelled by others in my industry. The purpose is being fulfilled daily, but believing there is more to do with helping people, especially women, to find their authentic being, their unique gifts and talents that make them a true blessing on this earth. Because of having access to technology globally, we will be able to help women who would never be able to literally come to one of our programs, and still help them to move forward. The future is beautiful and so real when you can dedicate yourself to not only looking after yourself first but in turn help women to find their full beautiful self and embrace it to be beyond proud of who they are!
Any tips for women thinking of starting a business?
You have a unique gift and talent that no one else possesses; find your gift and use that towards starting your own business. Starting a business is by far no easy task, but the immense joy, contentment and fulfillment you get from taking the risk is worth its weight in gold.
Be totally accountable for all your actions. Always know, ‘if it’s not hard, then it’s not your dream’. Keep these words close to you as for those times you think you want to throw in the towel or you are not getting anywhere; this will help you to move through everything that is thrown at you.
A lot of people think the sign is to move on and not continue with your dream career because of the obstacles and challenges, but indeed it is the opposite. The sign is, how will you move through everything to prove this is the business you want?! The sign is, do you have what it takes to keep moving it forward? The sign is, discover what the opportunity is versus what is right in front of you! You can do it! It’s all a matter of continuous step by step actions that get you there, and your gifts make you like no other. Welcome to a world of FREEDOM when you begin your journey as an entrepreneur.