CBNationI AM CEO PODCASTSocial Entrepreneurship

IAM2129 – Creative Director and Founder Helps Fitness Designers Put Their Ideas Into Products

Podcast Interview with Shadi Adada

In this episode, we have Shadi Adada, the founder of FittDesign.

Shadi shares his journey from studying architecture at the University of Southern California to merging his passion for fitness and design into a successful business.

He discusses how FittDesign takes clients' ideas and transforms them into customized, market-ready products.

Shadi emphasizes the importance of empathy for clients, patience in business growth, and the value of enjoying the process.

He also touches on FittDesign's unique approach to productizing design services and making the process transparent and efficient for their clients.

  • CEO Hack: Appreciate sincere understanding of what you have and where you are to effect any change.
  • CEO Nugget: Be patient and respect the process
  • CEO Defined: Most vulnerable person in a business


Instagram: @fittdesign
Facebook: Fittdesign
Pinterest: Fittdesign

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Shadi Adada Teaser 00:00

If you come in with the idea to create something, it could be a nice hoodie or a pair of joggers. And if you really want to customize that, we have the ability to take that from just an idea in your head to physical, a physically manifested product that you can sell to your customers.

Intro 00:13

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkness values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:41

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresham Harkless from the I AM CEO podcast. And I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Shadi Adada of Shadi, it is awesome to have you on the show.

Shadi Adada 00:51

Hey, thanks for having me.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 00:51

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. And Shadi, if you didn't know, is the architect and creative director and founder of FittDesign.

And what I wanted to do, Shadi, was just getting things started to ask you about what I call your CEO story, what led you to start your business and what led you to get started.

Shadi Adada 01:05

Yeah, of course. So I think like most people, it comes from a place of wanting to do a little bit more with your time at becoming getting to this point was truly by mistake.

I was in school. Actually, the University of Southern California studying architecture and quickly finding that, spending 20 hours a day on, the core subject matter wasn't really what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I think I quickly caught onto that. But. I realized that there was a core skill set that I was learning that I could definitely apply to another area of my life.

And at the same time, like any other 21-year-old going to the gym, see positive changes in my body. I definitely fell in love with the whole fitness aspect and I just definitely got involved in the whole community. And I was. Looking for a way to combine my skill set and into something that was really, really passionate about, of course, doing something for 20 hours a day, like architecture and design.

It just consumes you. So it was definitely something that I saw as an opportunity and little by little trying to find a way to apply that skill set into you. My kind of passion for fitness, it was initially it was how can I design products and, and items that relate to fitness?

And that was obviously apparel, gym, gym clothes, workout clothes. And I just looked at some of the players in that space and in 2014, there wasn't that much going on. And I just wanted to see what I could do with him. ultimately have fun with it. So little by little, it took off from there. It was definitely something that happened completely by mistake.

And as you do something, you iterate on it, you get better and better. And eventually it turns into a business. And that's how it was. It was completely by mistake and not by design at all. It wasn't, there was never an intention for it. And I think that's what most people do. Entrepreneurs stumble upon, they stumble upon it as opposed to having it happen by sheer will force in terms of how you go about it.

So that's my story in terms of how I got into it.

Gresham Harkless 02:56

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. And it's like a good, awesome reminder because a lot of times some of the best products or best things have come about just because like you said, it's by mistake where, you see like a gap in the market, so to speak, and then you start to fulfill that market, you start to create those things.

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And then it's like that. Perfect sweet spot where your passion, what it is that you've been working on and what you love doing and solving a problem all intersect at the same time. 100 percent Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So I wanted to drill down a little bit deeper in here, I guess a little bit more about what you're doing with fit design.

What exactly do you do to help serve the clients that you work with?

Shadi Adada 03:29

Yeah, of course. So fit design is insurance, like a complete production to development, design, development production solution. It's We take clients visions for their brands and their ideas, and we take it from just an idea and we make it happen.

Most of the clients that we operate with are in the fitness space. And most of that is apparel. Of course, we've done stuff outside of that, but to put it, to put a long story short, if you come in with the idea to create something, it could be a nice hoodie or a pair of joggers. And if you really want to customize that, we have the ability to take that from just an idea in your head to physical, a physically manifested product that you can sell to your customers.

And that's really where a lot of these kinds of small businesses are going. They're sick and tired of just having a shirt that you just print a logo on. That's not the way you differentiate yourself, especially in a market, which is so competitive. And there's just that need to have your own voice in this industry.

So we facilitate that and we've done that. That's what I stumbled into essentially.

Gresham Harkless 04:23

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So these are people that might have an idea of something that they want to create, but they don't necessarily have the, the steps after that on how to actually create it, how to bring it to fruition.

Is that what you're saying? Exactly.

That's exactly what it is.

Okay. No, that's awesome. Because I know that a lot of people probably want to test out different ideas and have different, like you said, ideas that they want to maybe AB test against or create and see how the market likes it. But it's great that you've created something that can help facilitate that for people.

Yeah, of course. And now I wanted to ask you for what I call your secret sauce. And this is like what you feel differentiates you or your organization and kind of sets you apart and makes you a little bit different. So two things.

Shadi Adada 05:00

The first thing is a complete and sincere understanding of the Client and empathy.

It's an empathy for the client. I like yourself. I'm a customer. I deal with businesses on a day-to-day basis, and I find myself frustrated sometimes in the way that we're treated and the way that kind of these businesses are treated. Take advantage of us or interact with us. It's a true understanding of how would I feel if I was in this person's shoes?

How would I want to be treated as a customer? And that's the first and foremost, that is like the central mantra to fit design to the way we interact with our clients. And that's the guiding light. The second thing that kind of would make us unique is we've Productized design services. So where most companies might go about it, send us a brief and we'll send you back a quotation.

We've distilled design down to its core elements and we've listed that on our website and we have set prices for everything that people can go and you. And see what matches their needs. And they're able to have a clear understanding of what they're getting themselves into before they actually get themselves into that.

So a lot of people find that super unintimidating. It's really clear and it's just a much more streamlined process. It's the productization or the commercialization of something that has never been commercialized before, which is design services, which are these kinds of intangible assets, right? It's basically hiring someone to do a project for you.

But we've taken that and we streamlined it into just a product essentially.

Gresham Harkless 06:21

Yeah, I love that. It sounds like those two things go hand in hand, meaning that, you understand and you put yourself and you empathize with the client and ask, what would they like, what would they like as far as the process?

It seems like you have been able to, to put that in place where now the client can find everything, they don't have to worry about, the emails coming back and everything that sometimes happens in the design process. You have everything out front open so that everyone can.

Everybody knows exactly how much it costs and everything like that. So that's 100%.

Shadi Adada 06:46

And that allows you to make a more educated decision as a kind of as a customer, basically going into it, you know what you're getting yourself into and you just have a lot more confidence dealing with the service provider.

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Gresham Harkless 06:56

Exactly. Exactly. You don't have that fear of knowing that you have this idea and you start getting the ball rolling and then you don't know how much it costs or what it takes to do that. All of that's laid out. So that's pretty awesome that you put that in place. So, now I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack.

And this could be an app, a book or a habit that you have, but it's something that makes you more effective and efficient as a CEO.

Shadi Adada 07:16

It's I think most people probably go about it, say it's a podcast and in a book or blog or whatever it may be. And of course those things are good. They're a great way of expanding your mindset.

For me, it's a little more of a personal thing. It's appreciating the sincere understanding of what you have and what you, what the position that you're in to affect that change. And when I, when I say that, I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but it literally is taking a step back and looking at everything that is in front of you being like, wow, like I am in a position that truly, truly, truly, I'm blessed to be in that position.

I need to maximize on that. I need to put push myself to, to make the most of that out of that situation or that opportunity. I think that is a great self-motivator and just that keeps the wheels turning. Essentially, it's a great way for you just to stay involved and to really appreciate everything you have through thick and thin.

And there's a lot of, there's a lot of fake areas, especially in this kind of in this. quote-unquote CEO lifestyle.

Gresham Harkless 08:11

Yeah. I don't think that's cheesy at all. Cause sometimes the simple things are what kind of motivates you and gets you going and to be able to have like that gratitude where you appreciate every little thing and every opportunity that you have that's in front of you to create the life that you want to build the life that you want.

I think that's a phenomenal reminder and of course a great example of a CEO hack. So, now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget, and this is a word of wisdom or a piece of advice, or if you could hop in a time machine, what would you tell your younger self?

Shadi Adada 08:35

What would I tell my younger business self?

I would probably tell my younger business self, be patient. Again, it sounds so overplayed, but that's because it works. It's patience is the key. Sometimes I have to tell my older business self to be patient because it's, you're just in it. You're living it right. You're in yourself every day, 24 hours a day.

And it's tough sometimes to not be impatient, not tell yourself, I would like more. I want it now. Like, why isn't it happening? And that ultimately leads to you being deterred off that path that you're on. It's definitely patience. It's understanding that there is no target. There's no set date that you're going to get there.

And it might happen tomorrow. It might happen after tomorrow. It might happen in 10 years. It might never happen. And that's a scary concept, especially when you you're doing it the right way. And when I say doing it the right way, there's a lot of There's a lot of, pretend when it comes to that, the entrepreneurial lifestyle, but people who are doing it, no, it's not glamorous.

It's not Instagram worthy. It's not anything. It's, it is literally just a grind. And the patience is just going to help you see through that grind. And that's the biggest thing I would say. It's just patience. Be patient.

Gresham Harkless 09:47

Yeah, I would definitely agree with that. I'm not on a yacht or anything like that.

I'm working hard just like I imagine that you are as well, too. So understanding that as part of the process and to be patient so that you can continue to go down that path to get your goal, whether it happened like you said today, tomorrow, next year or 10 years down the line, you just have to respect the process and go through it.

So 100. I think that's a phenomenal reminder.

Shadi Adada 10:07

Yeah, of course.

Gresham Harkless 10:08

And now I wanted to ask you for what is my favorite question, which is the definition for what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote-unquote CEOs on this show. So I wanted to ask you, Shadi, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Shadi Adada 10:19

Being CEO means you're the most vulnerable person in your business. What does that mean? Being the most vulnerable person that business, it means that every single thing, every aspect, every element that your business goes through is on you and you're responsible for your team. You're responsible for making it happen.

You are responsible for every last. Aspect of it. And that's what vulnerability means. It's and being comfortable with vulnerability. That's what it is. It's when you're comfortable in an invulnerable position, and you thrive off that. And you understand that that is in and of itself, a true opportunity.

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Because when you're vulnerable like that, a, you have to operate to the maximum of your ability. You have to understand that any, any, any weakness, any opening, any, any sort of way that you can fail can happen. You have to be able to cover that. You have to know that it's important to just cover all your bases, to be in that zone where You have people to take care of, you have obligations to meet, you have deadlines to meet, and it's just an amalgamation of everything.

And it sounds all over the place and it is, but it is a true vulnerability and being comfortable with that vulnerability. That's what I would say.

Gresham Harkless 11:26

I love that definition and the idea that a lot of times, when people are founders or startup founders and have a vision, they put themselves out there in order to do that.

They put themselves out in front of the world to So to speak so that they can try to reach that vision, try to, empower their team and do all those things. So I think that's an awesome definition for what it means to be a CEO. You agree. Yes, definitely. Definitely. Definitely. So Shadi, I appreciate you so much for taking some time out of your schedule.

What I wanted to do was pass you the mic, so to speak, just so that you can let us know any additional words of wisdom or piece of advice that you might have for our readers and listeners, and then also how best we can get in touch with you and find out about FittDesign.

Shadi Adada 12:01

Yeah, of course. I would say in terms of additional comments, it's.

It's realized that it sounds so cheesy because it is, but it's the truth. It's every single day that you get up and you have the ability to walk on your own two feet and to breathe through your lungs is an amazing kind of, and of itself, it's a feat of miracle basically. And it's 100 percent a, I don't know how you put it, but it is a true, true gift to be able to do something with your life every day and to have that capability and to be able to put yourself in a position.

To make more, to provide value, to bring yourself value. And then don't take that for granted, no matter how tough circumstances may seem. And of course, people have things to do and they have obligations to meet and they, they have to pay off this or they have to do that. But at the end of the day, it's, you always have that opportunity to a lesser or greater degree to make more, to achieve more, to get more out of what you want or those hours in the day and do not squander that because, and I promise you the process.

Self like the actual doing of it, not getting there. It's amazing. When you learn to just get down and distill down to the core emotions, it's amazing. Like watching something grow together and build that foundation. There's no words to really describe it. And when it starts to manifest and come together, it's an other worldly experience.

So it's definitely worth it. And it's definitely worth that grind and that setup time.

Gresham Harkless 13:22

Exactly. I would definitely agree with that. And for anybody that wants to follow up with you, Shadi, what is the best way for them to do that?

Shadi Adada 13:28

So we live on Instagram, at FitDesign is the main Instagram.

We live all over the internet. So super active on social. It's one of the core kind of, The core centers of our businesses, how to be engaged with people on social how do we create a community in a way that most design companies or design teams might not do? So it's Instagram at FittDesign Facebook at FittDesign that's double T Pinterest, FittDesign, double T be hands on that design, double T.

So we can be found in all those places or just email me double T. And I would love to hear. From anyone that would love to speak, I'm always available.

Gresham Harkless 14:06

Awesome. I appreciate that Shadi and what we'll do is we'll have all those links in the show notes just so that anybody can follow up.

But again, I appreciate you for the great reminder you gave us all today and all of the awesome things that you're doing to innovate within that design industry. I appreciate you for taking time out again, and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Shadi Adada 14:22

Thank you, Gresham, thank you so much for having me.

Outro 14:24

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast, powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 media. Tune in next time and visit us at I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Want to level up your business even more, read blogs, listen to podcasts, and watch videos at This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr.

Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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