Why I Dropped Everything To Start A Climbing Company (and How You Can Too)


Natalie climbing Mt. St. Helena in Napa Valley.

Today we have a guest post from the dynamic Natalie Siddique, co-founder of Moja Gear, and all around bad ass.  Sure, we think about forgetting our degrees, ditching our career paths, and pursuing a dream job, but this lady actually had the guts to do it!  Read on to hear about how she made it happen.

Sitting beside a campfire with an impeccable view of the Eastern Sierras, my high school best friend and I had reunited on the Volcanic Tablelands of Bishop, California. With a couple of IPAs and a meal cooked over camp stoves, we sat on our crash pads to catch up on the major events that had altered our lives over the past two years. Little did I know, by the end of that night, I would commit to making a 180 degree shift from my career path and begin building Moja Gear: a business dedicated to a sport and culture that we both deeply care about. I dropped everything in my “life plan” to start a company that I love. And so can you.

Taking the plunge into the unknown is challenging—daunting to say the least. But, I’ve gained a few insights that can help you chase your wildest dreams, whatever they may be.


Natalie just hanging out on a high line at Taft Point, overlooking Yosemite, NBD.

1. Observe and understand the root of your fears and vulnerabilities

In The Rock Warrior’s Way, Arno IIgner suggests that the way we live our lives reflects itself in the way we climb, and vice versa. Well, I found myself living in the habit of climbing bolt by bolt — seeking freedom to explore and create, but desiring the security of a“successful” future. Petrified by career stagnation, fiscal vulnerability, and disappointing family and mentors, my pursuits began to starkly misalign with my passions. Essentially, I was marking off grades to satisfy expectations, instead of embracing the bigwall climb of uncertainty that is life. Recognizing and accepting these fears, however, has led me to my greatest breakthroughs. Understanding your own insecurities, and seeing them objectively, can enable you to make actionable choices that push you beyond such boundaries.

2. Commit to action now without forecasting outcomes or plans for the future

In a strange period of limbo, I decided to make a change. I dropped my career towards foreign service, bought a one-way ticket, and left on a climbing pilgrimage throughout the Western US. Along this journey, I learned to accept fear as a companion on every route: one that never fully disappears from your mind, but one that you can balance with purposeful intention and deliberate focus. By trusting yourself to do exactly what you want to be doing, you can get on track to doing just that; exactly what you want to be doing. And that’s how I found myself dirtbagging in the desert paradise of Bishop, deciding to build a climbing company with my best friend Sander. I committed to the
present, without letting a fear of outcomes or the future consume me. Pursue your passions, follow your intuitions, and have faith in yourself.


A typical day at the office at Moja HQ.

3. Work hard for the causes and people you care about and happiness will come

Starting a business feels a lot like a perpetual rock climb. Seriously—the biggest damn big wall climb in the entire world. Some pitches boast bomber cracks and features that make you feel invincible; while on others you feel overwhelming exposure and the potential to take a fall into a deep pit of failure. But passion paired with passionate people makes every moment exhilarating, memorable, and utterly priceless. And sometimes, changing corners is the only way to find that. My life working on a startup isn’t glamorous, but it is simple and beautiful. I’m not shaking hands with the President or writing reports about ethnic conflicts anymore, but I do climb on beautiful rocks and gaze at jaw-dropping sunsets regularly.

Moja Gear is a content and community-driven rock climbing marketplace. A majority female team of psyched climbers, Moja is committed to bringing more responsibility to online outdoor retail by donating 1% of sales to outdoor causes. Learn more about Moja.

And guess what?  Now you can shop Moja with a Crux Crush reader discount, just in time for last minute holiday shopping!  Use the code “cruxcrush” for 15% off at check out through December 21 2014.  Happy shopping, and climb on!

Photo Credit: Matt Richter (photo 1 and 2)

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