Interview with RunLites Founder Mary Tiffin
If you've read the About Us page, you'll see that our vision is to build a global running community that embraces distinctive micro brands. To do so, we're dedicated to supporting the growth of smaller running companies, from those just getting started to those that have matured without becoming the next "corporate" brand.
As part of that mission, we are beginning a new series in which we can continue share the stories of our Uncommon innovators with you. Get to know them better, learn more about their journeys as entrepreneurs and learn how you, The Uncommon Running community, have changed their businesses for the better.
This first edition provides us the opportunity to sit down with RunLites founder Mary Tiffin (pictured above) to discuss her journey to found an uncommonly amazing running apparel and illumination business. Let's hear from Mary herself.
Uncommon Runner: Mary, tell us about your background?
Mary Tiffin: My background is kind of unusual. After college, my career started in NYC, I worked for a very large accessories company designing and selling a line of fashion accessories. Several years later, I moved to central Pennsylvania, where I met my husband and decided to remain. Since I was 3 hours west of the Fashion epi-center, I had to look for another career. I chose one in the tech business, I had an equally successful career in tech. RunLites is a meld of my careers, part fashion, part tech.
Uncommon Runner: What was the inspiration for RunLites?
Mary Tiffin: For many years after the death of my husband, I had to take a break from running as I was raising our sons alone. My time was very limited. When I sent my first son to college, I knew it was time to resume running, but because I still had 2 boys at home, I had to run around their activities. This meant at night. I started initially with taping my middle son’s Boy Scout flashlights on my hands. It worked okay but wasn’t very comfortable, plus removing duct tape night after night does a number to your skin. So it was on one of those runs, that I created the product. I wanted to run, keep myself safe, and have hands-free access to light and have a long lasting lightweight light to last several runs.
Uncommon Runner: What makes RunLites different from other running illumination products?
Mary Tiffin: There are many differentiators. The first is that they are ultra lightweight, weighing in at only 3 oz, that’s the weight of about 3 pencils! Also, they are USB rechargeable, so you can skip those annoying AAA batteries that have a tendency of dying half way through your run. Another really important element is that they are wearable LEDs, meaning you never have to hold anything, nothing to pass from hand to hand; RunLites are hands-free light to help enjoy the run. RunLites allow you to SEE (up to 40 feet ahead) and BE SEEN, up to half mile away. You really have to experience RunLites if you're running in the dark.
Uncommon Runner: What is/was the most challenging part of starting your business? What advice would you give someone trying to do the same?
Mary Tiffin: It’s all challenging, but it’s made a lot easier with great team mates and advisers. Starting a business is a marathon, not a sprint. So you need to think in those terms, pace yourself for the long haul and watch out for those hills.
Uncommon Runner: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Mary Tiffin: Surround yourself with the most positive and uplifting people you can. That’s always worked for me.
Uncommon Runner: What does the future look like for RunLites?
Mary Tiffin: It’s as bright as our beams. We’re frequently adding new products and new markets!!
Uncommon Runner: Last question...what is your favorite spot to run or favorite race?
Mary Tiffin: My favorite place to run is in my hometown. We live in a very picturesque community, long windy roads with great sights along the way. And there is something to be said about running on familiar paths, paths where your feet know the way.
You can learn more about Mary and her story through her book, At Dreams' End, available on Amazon.
Thank you for reading. Keep doing amazing things. And however you run, Run Uncommon.
The Uncommon Runner