Michelle Roark

Michelle Roark_Brian Smale_be the light_Chapter Be

Michelle Roark is an Olympic freestyle skier turned business entrepreneur. Michelle joined the US Freestyle Ski Team at the age of sixteen and skied competitively for sixteen years! She overcame 7 knee surgeries and continued to compete even while she earned her degree in chemical engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. She is a decorated skier who has directly applied what she learned on the mountain to her 3 businesses – Phia Lab, Voila Salon and Freestyle Group.

When you meet Michelle – her energy is palpable, and you quickly come to realize how she managed to train for the Olympics while working on a degree and starting a business. She is a fighter. She sees challenges as something to plow through versus something to stop her. At the age of five she knew she wanted two things – to be a chemical engineer and go to the Olympics. Originally, she thought she would go to the Olympics as an ice skater, but the huge cost of competing in that sport halted her, so she transitioned to focusing on freestyle skiing.

Michelle was kicked out of her house at the age of fifteen, but she continued to train while living in a tent and hitch-hiking to the mountain. She creates amazing coaches for keeping her going, and the life lessons she encountered early on in life for teaching her that we have the power to choose how we want to exist in this world. Her company Phia Lab creates products that encourage you to “be a force,” and she most definitely is!

We met at her salon and we talked about her days as a competitive skier, her outlook on what obstacles teach you in life and her passion for how science affects society. Listen below to learn more about Michelle’s Chapter Be story…



Michelle Roark_Jamie Squire:Getty Images[02:45] Michelle’s key take-aways from sixteen years of skiing competitively.

[04:30] Michelle discusses her 3 businesses, how they were constructed – including how a skier with a chemical engineering degree decided to start a business making perfumes.

[09:45] Discusses how she balances work, three business, family, and self care – “If you’re passionate about it and you do it with a pure heart and true mind, things have a way of working themselves out.”

[12:20] How the end of a professional sport career can affect you and the importance of finding something you are as passionate about afterward.

[14:45] Michelle’s background in skiing competitively was used often when she hit struggles in her businesses. Sports teach you how to fail and get back up!

[18:20] Discusses how unexpected changes in life/a business can give you exactly what you need – everything happens for a reason!

[19:10] Nature vs. Nuture – which one is the determining factor of how you create your own path? Michelle discusses the important impact that coaches can have on a young person’s life.

Michelle Roark_Phia_Philosophy[22:20] Let’s all be more like bouncy rubble balls – they bounce back with more force then before they hit the ground!

[23:10] The importance of stepping outside your comfort zone – what will happen if you dare to step out of the box you have constructed for yourself?

[26:45] “At some point you just have to start doing!” And – like Einstein once said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

[27:40] How is our society combining the sciences and the arts? Michelle believes that we are going to see more and more of this!

[29:00] We discuss energy and the power of thought – and what we are learning from people like Professor Elizabeth Blackburn.

Michelle Roark_MATTHEW STOCKMAN:GETTY IMAGES[30:10] If we want to teach and equip youth with how to solve problems – have them look at nature – it has been doing it right for billions of years!

[34:15] Since we are thinking more about health and exercise these days – it is only a matter of time before people start thinking about the chemicals that we put on our skin!

[37:00] How Denver has played a role in Michelle’s growing businesses – she sees Denver and Boulder “booming with energy and new ideas.”

[38:10] Michelle’s life motto – live fully, love wastefully and be.



the Light

What’s your favorite story to tell at a dinner or cocktail party?

“Everything is energy, that is all there is to it. Match the frequency to the reality you want and you can not help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.” – Albert Einstein

Worst work experience?

Being bored!

What is your definition of success?

Living fully, loving wastefully and being passionate.

How do you tap into your creative energies – especially when you are feeling drained?

I exercise!

What does “to be” mean to you?

Self love.

How do you spend your time when you are procrastinating?

Pinterest – I love to look at colorful, sparkly, inspiring things!

Ideal READING LIST – books, websites, blogs, podcasts, magazines, etc. that you would want on your Swiss Family Robinson deserted island?

  1. Pinterest
  2. PhiaLab.com
  3. The True Power of Water by Masaru Emoto
  4. Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman
  5. Vibrational Medicine by Richard Gerber
  6. The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins

Favorite song with “be” in the title?

Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin*

*Michelle was not sure what her favorite be song was, so this one was selected for her based on the fact that during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, NBC commentators referred to Michelle as “pure happiness.”


Images via Brian Smale, Jamie Squire/Getty Images, Michelle Roark, Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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