Claire Richmond

Claire had to stop marathon training and needed an outlet for her creative energy. So she started making fitness-inspired greeting cards.  

Take us back to you as a kid.

I was the kid with my nose in a book, I wore biking shorts to school every day until I was 11 or 12. Towards the beginning of middle school, I got contacts and my braces removed within the same week, and that's about the time I discovered clothes. In high school I lived in the home ec lab, listening to the Get Up Kids and sewing all the things.

Who did you want to be?

An artist, but I also wanted to be just like Shirley Manson.

What was last Monday like for you?

Christmas! 

Walk us through the days leading up to starting Hello and High Five?

To be totally honest with you, I was down and out. I had just received a medical diagnosis for a serious rare disease that had been wreaking havoc on my body, but remained elusive to doctors for more than 15 years. When I started Hello And High Five (HAH5 ) it was from my couch, while I was in recovery from an acute attack that was so bad, I spent a week in Mayo and another in a wheelchair. I had to stop marathon training due to my illness, so I knew I needed an outlet for my creative energy around my passion for running. The idea for HAH5 was born out of frustration for not being able to find cards for runners competing in races, but I designed my first card as a joke for a friend. It was the response I received after posting the card on Facebook that made me wonder if fitness-inspired greeting cards could be a thing.

"I designed my first card as a joke for a friend."

What keeps you busy?

I'm a big believer in having no more than three priorities at a time. That looks like different things depending on where I'm at in life, but right now they are health, family, and HAH5. 

How do you stay focused?

Music. I love discovering new music when I find something I like I can plug in and get in the zone.

What’s been the biggest challenge?

Hello And High Five is not quite a greeting card company, but it's not quite a fitness company. It's that pseudo identity crisis that can throw some people off. The challenge is changing the way people think about supporting their loved ones in all their fitness endeavors, we're really transforming the way people send high fives.

How did you overcome it?

Some people get the card/fitness combo, others do in their own time. While they're figuring it out, our social media channels are sending high fives to hundreds every day, buzzing with empowering stories of female athletes kicking butt, yoga mantras, card writing tips and girl power in general. 

You get to redo something you’ve done. What would that be and why?

Tonight I ordered a sandwich at the Cheese Bar, but I wish I had asked for the cast iron mac and cheese like the woman at the next table down ended up eating. It looked super yummy.

"Choose one thing and do it well. Want it with your heart and soul, envision how the world would be with your one thing in it and fall in love with that."

Someone is starting their own thing. What would you say to them if they came to you for advice?

Choose one thing and do it well. Want it with your heart and soul, envision how the world would be with your one thing in it and fall in love with that. It's easier for me to make decisions if it jives with my vision for HAH5, and it can be so very hard to make the "right" decisions early on in a business. 

 Also barter, barter and barter. When I got started I didn't have a ton of money, but I did have graphic design talent. I also didn't have any patience for building and executing social media engagement, so I found this brilliant woman named Rachel Peterson who was starting her own social media consulting business and needed all the branding. She launched my social accounts, and I designed her logo. It went so well that she still mans my Facebook and Instagram, but now I pay her in real money.

Why Des Moines?

I love Des Moines. I moved back to Iowa from Boston by choice because I was tired of being such a small fish. In Des Moines I've been able to get involved in meaningful ways and work to build the type of community in which I want to live. I have no plans of leaving. 

"My wish for Des Moines is to have more of a solid, supportive race culture whether you compete or not."

What’s one new thing that has caught your eye?

I just saw the Pixar movie "Coco" and I'm obsessed with it. I have a poster and a book and the story still gives me goosebumps.

You can grant Des Moines one wish. What’s that wish?

While Des Moines is an active city, I think there could be more of a support system (a cheering squad!) for races. There are lots of fun outdoor events throughout the year that is accessible for every fitness level. My wish for Des Moines is to have more of a solid, supportive race culture whether you compete or not.

For someone new to DSM where do you suggest they go?

To eat? The Flying Mango. To run? The Neil Smith Trail along the Des Moines River. 

The most underrated thing in DSM is ________. Why?

The trail system. It's vast and impressive and growing in meaningful ways.

What are you most proud of and why?

I'm proud of my resilience. I truly wouldn't be here today without it.

"I've been able to get involved in meaningful ways and work to build the type of community in which I want to live."

It’s been six months, what do you hope to have accomplished?

Top-notch SEO for helloandhighfiveshop.com and contracts with five additional shops in the region. 

One thing that matters most to you is what?

Health, not merely the absence of disease, but complete mental, physical and social well-being. When we're in good health, we will live our most effective lives.

Photo credit: Katherine McClure

Derek Jensen