On this week’s Aspiring Women Who Inspire, we are so excited to introduce Olympic Volleyball player and World Champion Kelsey Robinson. While playing women’s volleyball in college at the University of Tennessee and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Kelsey was part of the USA national team that won the 2014 World Championship gold medal. She also participated in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, and won a bronze medal for women’s volleyball. She is a powerful inspiration to us all, and we are thrilled to be able to share her story.
Please welcome Kelsey to BLND!
I’m Kelsey Robinson and I’m an Olympic bronze medalist volleyball player and World Champion. I’ve been playing professionally now for 6 years in places like China, Italy, and Turkey. I’m now working towards my second Olympic games in Tokyo. While I play volleyball full-time, I’ve ventured outside of athletics into some hobbies I’m passionate about. I have a website, cook book, YouTube channel, and do photography as well.
How did you get into your industry? Was this always where you saw yourself?
I started playing volleyball when I was 10. I never thought I would be a pro or even go to the Olympics, but I was incredibly lucky to have some amazing coaches in my corner. When you play professionally, you live and train in a country for 6-7 months of the year. Most of the time you are one of three to four foreigners on the team. You spend a lot of time away from family, friends, and life experiences. This has pushed me to pursue the other parts of me that I love. That’s why I started writing, recording, learning, and ultimately, sharing the creative side of my life. It gives me balance and peace of mind from my world of high pressure moments.
From your experience, what are the three key factors or strategies for starting and establishing a brand?
Authenticity. I think in a world full of people trying to be like everyone else, it’s refreshing to show up as authentic as possible. When i’m creating or looking at brands, I always want to support people who genuine.
Passionate. Whatever I’m doing whether it’s training or creating, I do it because I love it, and I have immense passion for it. I couldn’t sacrifice all that I have if what I was pursuing didn’t fire me up every day.
Work ethic and drive. I think if you want to start a brand, it’s going to be difficult. It’s not easy to do something that could potentially fail. I also believe if you’re willing to put in the work and grind until it comes to fruition, then that alone is worth so much.
What’s an accomplishment you consider to be the most significant in your career so far?
My cookbook. I set out with the intention of doing something different. A lot of times as athletes we put ourselves in a box and think we can only be athletes. For a few years, I wanted to prove to myself that I could create something totally unrelated to what I do on the court. It took a lot of long nights, time, effort, but when it finally was released, I was so immensely proud. Of course I’m proud of the medals and the trophies, but this was an accomplishment unlike any other in my life.
What’s a failure that turned into a blessing?
Our bronze medal at the Olympics. We had been on track to win a gold medal for the first time in USA volleyball history. We were undefeated and playing our best volleyball. It felt like we were writing our own destiny. In the semis, one of our best players went down with an injury and we lost in five. I’ve never been more heartbroken than that moment right there. It was devastating. Our team grieved and took a day to sit with our emotions. The day after, we had to play for Bronze. Instead of wallowing in self pity, our team played stronger than ever. That bronze meant more in that moment than any gold because it was a show of strength as sisters. We leaned on each other and we played more connected.
Coffeeeeeee. I always wake up an hour before I have to train and will have 32 oz water & a coffee with almond milk. Usually, I sit and stretch for a bit and decide how hungry I am. I can’t eat a lot before training so it’s usually a protein bar and then after morning training I’ll eat a big breakfast with protein.
Who’s an aspiring woman who inspires you?
I’m surrounded by so many inspiring women. It’s amazing to wake up every day and go be in an environment with such strong, powerful women. You want to be a better player, but more importantly you want to be a better person. To see women who sacrifice so much for the good of everyone around them is incredible.
What’s one piece of career advice you’d give a young person looking to follow in your footsteps?
Do what you love and do it with passion. There’s nothing else greater than that and it’s so worthy to pursue something. The real gold medal is in the pursuit.
When you’re not killin’ it in your career, what can we find you doing?
Photography, surfing, filming, traveling. All the fun things! I’m an ocean baby and go straight to the water right after practices.
Three words that describe you? Competitive, passionate, loving
Three products you can’t live without? Estee lauder advanced night repair serum, canon ae-1 film camera, indah bikini
Dream collaboration? @olivecooke’s line Cooke & Kin or traveling and writing for all the boutique hotels across the world.
Trendy or classic? Trendy
#1 place on your travel bucket list? Milos, Greece
Go to drink order? Mezcal margarita
Favorite restaurant? Gjusta in Venice