Melanie Birky - Woman to Watch Class of 2015

Owner of Star Martial Arts

Classic Image Photography

Melanie Birky owns Star Martial Arts in Elkhart and Mishawaka with her husband, Seth. She started martial arts at the age of three with her parents as instructors. She started assisting with classes at age 10 and became the chief instructor/manager at age 16. Melanie moved to Goshen when she met her husband and started co-running Star Martial Arts in Elkhart with him five years ago. A little over a year ago, they opened Star Martial Arts in Mishawaka. Today, she is blessed with a great team that allows her to focus on managing, training, planning and expanding! Melanie’s current dreams and goals consist of running Star Martial Arts academies across the country!

Just In A Day's Work: 

What do you love about your job?
The students, especially the kids! They can turn my day around in one short class. Plus, the funny things they say are always hilarious! I also love the flexibility that comes with being able to set your own schedule and be your own boss.
What was the best business advice you have received and who gave it?
Recently, I received great advice at a T.D. Jakes seminar. He said, "At the end of the day, there will always be things that aren't checked off your list. Just make sure it isn't the same thing every day."
Who inspires you professionally?
There is another martial arts business owner in Arizona that blows me away. She's strong, independent and tenacious! At one time, she almost lost everything, but dug deep and worked her way to success. She's "real" with you too. She's not afraid to be vulnerable and tell you her downfalls or weaknesses. She genuinely wants to help and doesn't care about getting the credit or recognition. She works away on making herself and her business the best it can be, minding her own business, not worrying about keeping
up with the Jones. And, she's under 5 foot and crazy fit as an added bonus!
What is your single best piece of advice for women in business?
Just be you! Know and celebrate how you are uniquely made. Always work on making a better you, but don't try to become successful by being someone you aren't or who you think others want.
Do you serve on any charitable organizations' boards or committees?
I'm not on any boards or committees, but we regularly have fundraisers and promotions for charities through food drives, school supply drives, toy drives, board break and kick-a-thons and pink uniform promotions. We also have a community project every other month with our leadership students from leaf raking and snow shoveling to retirement home demonstrations and food pantry volunteering.
Do you have a professional mentor? How have they helped you succeed?
My mom! She's my martial arts instructor, my mom, my business mentor, my friend and my cheerleader. Everything I know about the industry comes from her. She has poured into me more than I probably even realize.

The Balancing Act: 

What does “success” mean to you?
Figuring out and doing what God made and put you on this earth for and doing it to the best of your ability and with love.
What’s your best secret to “having it all?"
Knowing that what you have is probably already close to "having it all." But if you don't feel like you don't have it all, go do something about it!
What is your favorite non-work activity or hobby?
My husband and I enjoy traveling and doing extreme things like skydiving, tough mudder and swimming with sharks. He's currently training for a marathon and I'm training for my first triathlon.
How do you stay organized?
Google Tasks, Google Calendar and LOTS of lists!
What is your favorite form of stress relief?
Exercise, especially beating a punching bag. One of my goals for 2015 is to start journaling more as well.

10 SASSY Facts About Melanie Birky:

Favorite TV Show:
I enjoy business shows like Shark Tank and The Profit. Competition shows are a close second like Project Runway and Amazing Race, which my husband and I are currently
trying out for!
Favorite Book:
The Bible, especially Proverbs. Anything on the topic of leadership; Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey and any leadership book by John Maxwell.
What is your favorite weekend style?
I've recently fallen in love with full length workout leggings and an oversized sweatshirt. However, the weekends are usually the only time I can wear "real" clothes so I usually try to show my personal style then with the help of Pinterest for inspiration.
Favorite Scented Candle:
Anything Beachy: Calypso Sands and Bali Shores
What do you and your family enjoy doing on the weekends?
Exercise, being outdoors, catch up on reading, movie marathons and take a nap, if possible.
What do you think makes up a Sassy woman?
Confidence in herself, her abilities and who she is (and is not) as a person and not letting anyone or anything change that.
Favorite Beauty Product:
Matrix Finishing Spray Wax
Biggest Pet Peeve:
What did you want to be as a kid growing up?
Hair Dresser
If you were a shoe, describe what you would be and why?
My neon Nike Air Max tennis shoes. They are bold, active, not fussy and comfortable, but yet they make a statement and turn heads in a room. Plus, I can still kick in them.

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