A Woman to KNOW : Kelsey Vickers
Embracing GRIT and Grace: Morgan Arbez’s Journey from Solopreneur to Industry Innovator

By Myra Stacey

Morgan Arbez’s journey from a burgeoning entrepreneur at 19 to the founder of a successful distribution company and a product-based fitness brand embodies the essence of grit, passion, and perseverance. Her story is not just about building businesses but a testament to the transformative power of recognizing one’s potential and stepping into it. 

From starting an accounting firm to launching GRIT Distribution and Project GRIT, Arbez’s story is a masterclass in overcoming obstacles, embracing strengths, and making hard choices for an easier life. The stage is set for an inspiring interview, delving deep into Arbez’s backstory, her “aha” moment that led to her current venture, the unique aspects that set her company apart, her favorite career moment, her personal measure of success, the most impactful advice she’s received, and her message to aspiring entrepreneurs. 

We explore the depth of Arbez’s entrepreneurial spirit, her commitment to values, and her unyielding resolve to dream big and actualize those dreams with unwavering dedication and hard work.

Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I have had an entrepreneurial spirit since I can remember. At that age 19, I founded an accounting firm and built it from the ground up. I sold the accounting firm at age 29. At that time, I didn’t really know who I was or that I actually had an entrepreneurial spirit. I just always knew I wasn’t meant to work for someone else. I thought there was something wrong with me, that I was crazy.

Building the accounting firm helped me foster my entrepreneurial spirit and showed me what I was capable of. I went to university at night and built my accounting firm during the day. I hired a few of my university professors because I had no idea what I was doing; I was googling my way through it. As I hired more people, I realized many stay-at-home moms with backgrounds in bookkeeping or accounting wanted the opportunity to be home with their kids but still craved professional engagement.

I thought, “You can work from home.” You can still work when your kids are napping or whenever it works for you. I was able to develop a community of stay-at-home women who were also working moms.

This setup gave them purpose and fulfillment while getting the work done effectively. They put more effort and love into the job because they were grateful for the opportunity to work from home and be with their family. I hosted weekly staff meetings where I would buy everyone coffee and the remote team would come into the office. They’d gossip and do their thing for the first 20 minutes in the boardroom, and then I’d get down to business. It was a great connection point for everyone, and I was proud of that environment.

Then, I sold the business to the two women who managed the accounting firm as I ventured out, starting multiple other companies. I had a CrossFit gym and five CrossFit competitions, one of which became the third largest in the world. Getting event sponsors in Canada is next to impossible, as companies in the CrossFit space are primarily American.

American companies are unsure how to navigate crossing the border. There are many barriers to entry into Canada. Speaking with these sponsors, I said, “Hey, I can take care of that. I can ship your product for you. No problem. I have an e-commerce background; I know finance.”

I always said yes to everything before I knew how, but I figured it out. That’s how GRIT Distribution was born. II needed to solve a problem for my events and I built wonderful relationships along the way. Since then, we’ve grown, working with multiple hundred-million-dollar brands.

And now, we’ve just launched Project GRIT, a product-based brand in the fitness space with high-end products meant to endure, embodying grit, passion, and perseverance over time.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the creation of your current company?
The aha moment leading to the creation of my current company, GRIT, was a profound realization of my inherent abilities to solve problems and contribute significantly to others. It dawned on me that I possess a wealth of knowledge that could immensely benefit brands, alongside an entrepreneurial spirit eager to address challenges.

I recognized one of my superpowers lies in connecting people, making them feel seen, heard, and interconnected. This ability to forge meaningful connections seemed natural to me, and it became clear that I could leverage this skill to benefit not just individuals but brands and communities at large.

The realization hit me when I noticed a gap in the Canadian market. Consumers felt overlooked by brands, and events in Canada struggled to secure sponsorship. It was as if there was a disconnect or a misunderstanding that left a void. Observing this, I understood that there was a supply and demand issue that I was uniquely positioned to address.

By creating a bridge between international brands looking to enter the Canadian market, I saw an opportunity to connect these brands with Canadian consumers. This insight illuminated my ability to solve complex problems and create connections,  was an aha moment. It led me to establish a company focused on solving these specific issues, helping brands expand their reach and Canadians access the goods and services they desired. In embracing my strengths and concentrating on what I was naturally good at, I realized I could elevate everyone involved, marking the birth of GRIT.

What do you think makes your company stand out?
The people, it’s the people. It’s the GRIT mentality. It’s the fact that we live in a time right now where everything is so extreme. Everything’s so political. You have to have a strong opinion, or you’re canceled if you don’t have one. 

But if you have the wrong opinion, you’re also canceled. And for us, we’re like, we don’t care about the political environment. We do not care what you think we should do. We’re going to do what’s right. 

We’re going to live by our values. Everybody who works with us has their own little island and community where we all support each other. We all do our best to live with strong values daily.

What has been your favorite moment in your career so far?
Reflecting on my career, I realize my favorite moment is deeply personal. It’s the journey I embarked on with my husband, a journey that melded our personal lives and professional ambitions. I met my husband during a period of immense personal change; I was navigating the aftermath of a difficult life transition. With a blend of resilience and determination, I was convinced I needed no one, focusing solely on building my business and securing my autonomy.

My husband, then a close friend, witnessed my relentless hustle firsthand. He shared a similar mindset in his own life. Despite his demanding job, which often took him away from home and subjected him to Alberta’s harsh winters, I saw in him a mirrored entrepreneurial spirit and untapped potential. When we decided to throw all the cards on the table and dive into life together, my goal was to build my business to a place where he could quit his job to pursue entrepreneurship. 

The pivotal moment came in the summer of 2022, amid the lingering challenges of COVID-19. My husband was required to ‘work from home’, or in our would, the warehouse. My husband, observing the dynamism of my team, had his own aha moment. He saw not just the work being done but recognized his potential contribution to our collective effort. He approached me with decisive resolve to quit his high-paying, esteemed job and join me in the business full-time.

Submitting his resignation was a leap of faith, a testament to our shared belief in the possibility of creating something greater together. That decision marked a turning point for him and us. It was a moment of profound pride and realization that my endeavors had transcended personal success; they had become a foundation for us to explore our potential together. The overwhelming sense of accomplishment and shared purpose we experienced then is a memory that still resonates with me, a reminder of the power of belief, love, and the relentless pursuit of our dreams. Now, I get to do what I love most every day, with the person I love most. 

What measure do you use to determine success?
I measure my success by my ability to look myself in the mirror every single day, knowing I’ve given it my absolute best. It’s not about the numbers, accolades, or external validations for me. It’s about knowing that I’ve stayed true to my values and integrity in every decision and action. It’s about ensuring I bring my best self to every situation, even if the outcomes aren’t always what I expected or hoped for. My ultimate measure of success is at the end of my life, being able to look in the mirror and say, “You know what? You reached your fullest potential, gave it everything you had, discovered exactly who you are, and did it all with your best effort.” That is the truest measure of success.

What piece of advice has impacted you the most?
The piece of advice that has impacted me the most is realizing that I am truly the most powerful person in my life, and I need to step into that power. For so long, I gave my power away to everyone else—my circumstances, other people, and the roles I was placed in. I survived what felt like hell to get to where I am today. From a young age, my parents saw me as their golden ticket, relying on me to provide for them in every possible way. Mentally, emotionally, financially. 

My previous marriage was toxic; my ex-husband was mentally and verbally abusive, making me feel worthless and undeserving of anything better. I believed my sole purpose was to work tirelessly to support those around me. I questioned my worth daily, my health deteriorated, and despite being fit and eating healthily, I was inexplicably overweight, and my body stopped producing hormones. Working 20-21 hours a day, I barely saw my kids. I was constantly dealing with financial sabotage from those who were supposed to support me, facing declined credit cards and endless stress.

The turning point came when I realized these people were not my responsibility. They didn’t have the right to claim me as their golden ticket. I understood that I had been kept small because they feared when I recognized my power. They planned to control me further and isolate me, suggesting I move to a secluded property where they could monitor and restrict my movements even more. But the moment I recognized my power, I took a stand. I demanded they respect my boundaries or leave my life.

This realization changed everything. My health miraculously improved, and my life took a positive turn. Understanding that I don’t need to play small for anyone was both liberating and transformative. I spent most of my life feeling emotionally dead, believing I was the problem due to constant gaslighting from my parents and ex-husband. Recognizing this wasn’t true was the most liberating feeling. Once I flipped that switch in my head, nothing stopped me.

What message would you like to give to anybody who has a plan of creating something of their own and making a living through it? 

To anyone planning to create something of their own and make a living through it, my message is this: Hard choices lead to an easy life, while easy choices lead to a hard life. Remember to focus on taking one step at a time when you’re afraid or uncertain about which direction to take. Even if you need to figure out if it’s the right step, taking action is what matters. Action is the antidote to anxiety and fear.

Make decisions and move forward. Even if you end up taking a wrong turn, you’ll learn something valuable. It’s crucial that with every decision you make, you can look yourself in the mirror and confidently say you gave it your best effort. At the end of your life, when it’s just you reflecting on your choices, the knowledge that you truly gave it your all will define fulfillment for you.

By committing to give every day and every situation the best effort you can muster, you’ll lead a fulfilling life. Your energy will attract more positive energy and momentum, which is essential for sustaining your journey. Even when doubts creep in, if you give your best, that positive energy will be rewarded.

As an entrepreneur, action can override fear. Knowing you’ve given your best effort will diminish your fears. So, always take that next step, always strive to do your best, and always check in with yourself to ensure you’re aligned with your heart’s intentions. While my words might not be perfectly articulated, the essence is clear: Keep moving forward, give your best, and everything will align in your favor.

Upon reflecting on Morgan Arbez’s remarkable journey, it becomes clear that her story goes beyond just another story of business success. It is a powerful testament to the resilience and transformational capacity of human spirit. Through her experiences, Arbez highlights the importance of owning one’s power, making difficult decisions with integrity, and relentlessly pursuing one’s passions. Her advice to take action, even in the face of uncertainty, serves as a guiding light for anyone looking to carve their path. As we conclude this insightful interview, Arbez’s journey reminds us that at the core of entrepreneurship lies the pursuit of financial success, personal fulfillment, and the ability to make a positive impact on the world. Her story is a compelling call to embrace our potential, navigate life’s challenges with courage, and ultimately live a life marked by effort, growth, and authentic satisfaction.

Lynne Kimmich

More About Morgan

Morgan Arbez is a distinguished entrepreneur, speaker, and visionary CEO of GRIT Distribution, renowned for her ability to transform challenges into opportunities for growth. With a proven track record of scaling and exiting businesses, she is deeply committed to empowering others to realize their inherent potential and achieve greatness. Beyond her entrepreneurial endeavors, Morgan is a strategic thinker and a beacon of resilience. Her leadership is not just about navigating the path to professional success; it’s about fostering a journey of self-discovery and empowerment. Morgan invites you to embrace your inner strength through her work, unleashing your true potential for a life filled with purpose and fulfillment.