Fleet Feet’s Erin Key – The Art of Balancing it All

The concept of having it all has many different meanings. While most think of it as having a rewarding career while also managing a growing family flawlessly without any help, it is a lofty goal that is unachievable for the vast majority of people. However, Erin Key of Fleet Feet knows how it feels to have it all and has worked very hard to achieve her goals!

When Erin Key moved from Alleghany County to Winston-Salem, she didn’t know what exactly she would do for work; she was transitioning from managing a summer camp to needing to find a new role. A long-time mentor of hers recommended she go find what she loves to do and do that. Erin was a marathon runner, so she knocked on the door of Fleet Feet. 

“At the time, I did not intend for it to be a full-time job; but, I hit it off with the rest of the staff and enjoyed being there,” said Erin. “So, I transitioned to full time. At first, it felt like a step backward from a financial and career standpoint. I quickly realized that it was a choice for a different lifestyle. I didn’t know where it was going to take me. I didn’t have any business or retail experience, but I loved running.” Over the next nine years, Erin worked her way up from being a full-time outfitter to being the general manager of Fleet Feet Winston-Salem and Fleet Feet Clemmons.   

Erin, mom to two young daughters (Stella, 6 and Rowan, 2), has figured out how to manage a busy mom-life and busy work life. Her husband, Adam, a Winston-Salem firefighter, has an ever-changing schedule that requires they readjust their combined schedules every week.  

“We couldn’t do it without family help,” said Erin. “I try my best to balance my days off with his days at the department. Every week is completely different. We both have careers that we love, and I want to have something outside of my home that challenges me and helps me grow personally. I feel like I’m setting an example for my daughters, so they see that they can have a family and can also be independent and have careers. Adam is just as good of a father as I am of a mother. We are equals when it comes to parenting and kid management.”

Erin says she most enjoys working with young staff at Fleet Feet and mentoring them. The pace of a busy retail store keeps her engaged and excited to come to work. “If every day was predictable and required sitting at a desk, I would get bored,” she said. “It’s always something different – mentoring staff, training staff, events – all of that is part of my job and that makes it fun.”

Erin recognizes the challenge of being a stay-at-home mom vs. the equally tough challenge of being a working mom. “My advice to young women – you really must look at your partner. The world is different than when I was young, and my mom stayed home. Traditional parenting roles no longer exist. It’s great to see Adam really being a dad and not just the ‘babysitter’ and knowing that I can go to work, and they are getting what they need from an invested parent.”

The support she receives allows Erin to go for her goals and to pursue new ones. Working at Fleet Feet has taught her that there is a way to have it all with a lot of hard work and determination. “I’ve learned as part of my career growth at Fleet Feet that, when I am going to tackle something, I am going to do it the best way I can,” said Erin. “I am always looking for what more can be done to improve and expand on something. If we are not constantly trying to move forward, then you’re moving backward. Sometimes it’s in the big things and sometimes it’s just perfecting the details.”

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