When Buchanan graduate Sunny Arada was asked to come up with a fictitious business in her entrepreneurship class at Fresno State, she came up with an idea that combined her two loves: jewelry and running.
“I was working for a jeweler in town, and I had run a few marathons and half marathons, and I ran (cross country and track) for Fresno State... I thought making a line of jewelry for runners would be fun,” said the 31-year-old. “I pitched it in front of a classroom and people wanted to be in our group, so we did the project and my first show was the Two Cities Marathon (in 2009).”
Endure by Sunny Arada was born, specializing in marathon, half marathon track and field and cross country jewelry.
An expo is held in the days leading up to the annual Two Cities Marathon, whose route goes through North Fresno and Clovis. The race expo features businesses that sell everything a runner may need or want.
“My first design was a high-heeled shoe with a wing on it like a track shoe,” Arada said. “At that show I also had cheetah rings, cheetah necklaces, earrings with the numbers of race distances, a roadrunner necklace, and tortoise and hare necklaces.”
Arada earned her bachelor’s degree in business, but then took a year off before entering the Master’s of Business Administration program at Fresno State.
“I didn’t get into it right away, because I took the GMAT three times and my scores weren’t that great,” she said. “I was getting discouraged. Here I was studying, taking this test, and I’m just not a good test taker. I considered becoming a nurse… I considered becoming a teacher because I was substitute teaching at the time and that was fun. But I had to figure out what I really wanted to do.”
And Endure is it.
Her website now features hundreds of designs and customizable pieces, along with a clothing line featuring tank tops, tees, hoodies and pants.
“In 2010 I had some shirts I would wear to expos, and I would sell those, but I didn’t have a cohesive clothing line until 2013,” Arada said.
Arada’s designs are inspired by athletics, and she sometimes gathers opinions from friends on Facebook before finalizing a look.
“I just draw and if it’s something that stands out, I figure out a direction to go and draw a few versions of them,” she said. “With the new Runbeat design, I had a lot of variations, but I wanted it to be legible and also wanted it to look like a heartbeat.”
Newly launched on her website, the Runbeat ring comes in sterling silver, white, yellow or rose gold. The letters “run” make up the vertical lines of an EKG reading. The pattern is also splashed across black, aqua and white tank tops.
Arada is working on Endure’s fall and winter apparel while preparing for the upcoming race season.
“On Labor Day I have the Disneyland Half Marathon,” she said. “It’ll be the 10th anniversary and it’s also the diamond (anniversary) year (for Disneyland). I’m making diamond shaped pendants with different distances; they’re going to have a 5K, a 10K and a half marathon, and then also the Dumbo Double Dare, which is doing the 10K and half marathon back-to-back, which comes out to 19.3 miles. So there will be four different rings with those distances, and the decimal points will have diamonds in them.”
Although she doesn’t make the jewelry and clothing herself, she works with a local jeweler and a Clovis screenprinter.
“In high school I was in a 3D class, where we would carve a wax, bake it in an urn and it makes a mold. Then you get melted silver or gold and inject it into the mold and it hardens to create the jewelry,” Arada said. “So I know the process, but I don’t make them myself.
“The screen printing company I use, the person actually moved down the street from where I grew up and worked out of their garage for awhile. They sold to another screen printing company and work for them, so I still work directly with the people I’ve worked with the entire time.”
While keeping her local connections — Clovis High runners Mikayla Sodersten and Piper Walker model for her website — Arada has made it into the big leagues.
She has sold Endure at numerous race expos all over the United States, including the Boston Marathon and Walt Disney World races. This year, The San Francisco Marathon asked her to create the race’s official jewelry.
“They licensed their logo to me,” she said. “It was amazing that they were willing to work with me and allow me to use their marks in my jewelry.”
She has also created the official jewelry for the Two Cities Marathon.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but the winners always get my jewelry as a prize,” she said.
Besides her online store at endureshop.com, Endure is sold locally in Fleet Feet Fresno and few other running stores around the country.
“I’m working on that aspect of the business, getting more retailers,” she said, adding that she hopes to expand to direct sales.
“I have a mom that lives near me that goes to Whole Body Boot Camp. She sells my things and I give her a cut, and she’s actually done really well! Any little bit helps,” Arada said.
The business hasn’t expanded as quickly as Arada had anticipated when she used Endure as her thesis for the MBA program at Fresno State in 2010. But being an entrepreneur — and a mother of a 3-year-old son, Cruz — has been a learning experience.
“(For the thesis) I had to write everything about the business, from the financial stuff, to marketing, science, management, long term and short term goals, and a plan for how the company was going to grow — just cover everything we had learned in the program,” Arada said. “When (Cruz) was first born, it was all I could do to keep the business alive.
“I used to have an office on Peach and Alluvial but I moved out in March. Now I realize I should’ve been working from home the entire time. It’s so much easier when I have to do something quick.”
Arada says her supportive family has been key in helping her business grow.
“My sister would come to shows to help me sell,” she said. “But the most help has been my mom. I go out of town once a month or more during the (running) season, and she takes care of (Cruz) when I’m gone.”
With her son entering preschool this month, Arada says she is getting the hang of balancing working from home and taking care of him.
“I don’t want to miss out on anything if I can help it,” she said. “If he wants to play and I’m working, I stop and pay attention to him. Work isn’t more important than him.”
Arada’s focus, along with focusing on Cruz, is training to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
She was a sprinter for the Buchanan High School track and field team, running the 100-, 200- and 400-meter events, along with the four by 400-meter relay.
Arada earned an athletic scholarship to the NCAA Division I program at Fresno State, running the same events and even trying out the 400-meter hurdles in her senior year.
While her personal record for a marathon is 4 hours 27 minutes, she’s hopeful that she can cut nearly an hour from her time and meet the 3 hour and 35 minutes Boston qualifying time for her age group.
“I’ve never actually trained properly for a marathon,” Arada said. “But that’s my goal. It’s in my head every day.”
Endure has been at the Boston Marathon expo three times, and Arada took a later flight this year to watch fellow Buchanan grad Fernando Cabada run the race as part of the U.S. Elite Team.
“I get an adrenaline rush just being around all the fast runners at the (Boston Marathon) expo,” Arada said. “I really want to do something more, and do something for myself. Instead of just doing whatever (in my training) I want to challenge myself.”
Check out Endure online at EndureShop.com, facebook.com/endurejewelry, pinterest.com/endurejewelry, or follow the business on Twitter and Instagram @endurejewelry