We had the good fortune of connecting with Kenzie Fitzpatrick and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kenzie, what do you want your legacy to be?
My number one goal with my business is to show the world that women can be successful in the firearms industry by being professional, knowing their craft better than anyone else, and without having to compromise their morals or values. I want young women who are more outdoorsy and less feminine to feel comfortable in their own skin, be their true authentic selves, and chase their passion no matter what it is. I want more women to break gender norms. I am living my dream every single minute of every single day. If I can do this, anyone can, but it’s not easy. I quit my comfortable, okay salary, great benefits, time off, and “career” for an uncomfortable chance to find freedom. But I made it. I’m a three years overnight success story. I want to leave a legacy of inspiration to find your passion and purpose in life, take risks to make your dream your reality, and live a life worth living. I want people to remember me as the girl who lived her life by design, who earned every opportunity that came along, and for positively impacting others along the way.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
While my primary business is Reticle Up Marketing, I also own 3 Gun Kenzie, LLC, freelance as a writer for five different companies in the firearms industry, am a firearms instructor, a professional competitive shooter, and host a podcast. I also am a contractor for a nonprofit organization that helps entrepreneurs all across the country get help and feedback from their local community on how to grow. Reticle Up is a marketing agency specializing in social media and email marketing for small to medium-sized companies in the firearms and outdoors industry.
I personally have worked local shooting competitions and Area matches to National level competitions all across the country. I’ve attended SHOT Show, The Gundies Awards, The Gathering, and shot 3 Gun, 2 Gun, Steel Challenge, USPSA, IDPA, CQB, and Outlaw matches. I have taken classes from National champions, passed two states’ concealed carry classes, have my license to teach state-certified and pistol classes, am a certified AR-15 armorer, and am a lifelong learner. There is not another female in the firearms industry that I’m aware of that shoots all the disciplines I do, teaches, writes, travels across the country shooting, and owns a business. While there are many amazing females that do some of these, my experience and knowledge of every aspect of the industry and competitive shooting sports sets me apart from anyone else.
I am most proud of the brands I represent on and off the range. To have companies believe in me, support me, and see my value is validation that drives me to keep going. I have worked for years to earn sponsorships and I don’t take any of them lightly. Every sponsor I have is important to me and I’m grateful for what they do for me. I am so excited to have official rifle, PCC, pistol, and ammunition sponsors. The opportunity of a lifetime was recently offered to me to work with a well-known company in the rifle industry that wants to break into the pistol industry. Travis Tomasie, a National Champion, who shoots for MasterPiece Arms, asked me to join his team and I think that’s the first time in a long time I was speechless. It is a true honor to be teammates with someone as inspirational, hard-working, kind, and welcoming as Travis.
People ask me all the time about how I got sponsors, how I began writing for companies, or tell me how “lucky” I am to be where I’m at. What no one sees is the time, effort, money, and sacrifice that went into building my business. When I invested in myself to build my business full-time, I cut out all luxuries in life (clothing, haircuts, eating out, etc.) to put that money into the business instead. I volunteered as a Range Officer at match after match, some lasting as long as 13 days, living out of a hotel room and working in 100+ degree heat because I couldn’t afford match fees or some of the travel costs to get there. If I hadn’t gone to half of those matches, I never would have met some of the biggest business connections I’ve made just from showing up to a match. So I learned to trade my time and volunteer to meet people and learn more about the industry.
I traveled to SHOT Show for a week, to The Gundies for a weekend, The Gathering for four days, and just was relentless at showing up to places I needed to be. Just recently, I hired my first contractor to help with day-to-day business help, but without her help, I would work all hours of the days leading up to my leaving to make sure work was complete for my clients before traveling. I used many National holidays as workdays to catch up when no one was pinging me throughout the day. I have missed birthdays, weddings, baby showers, and more because my business has been important for me to build. I have faced adversity in being a female in the firearms industry and having people take me seriously. I let my work speak for itself rather than me ever over promise and under deliver.
Every day is a challenge. I have had to learn how to wear different hats in my company – salesman, accountant, consultant, designer, and more. I’ve learned to always under promise and over deliver. I am a huge fan of time blocking on my calendar (from the book The One Thing). I have learned the extremely hard lesson of knowing my value and speaking up for what I’m worth. It took me a long time to get used to asking for what I want/deserve, speaking up when I’m not treated with respect, and saying “no” to the things I don’t want to do or that I’m not okay with. Most importantly, the money is NEVER worth it when it comes to working with a brand that doesn’t align with your personal morals, values, or standards. Never compromise who you are or what you stand for, for any reason.
My brand started in 2015, three weeks after graduating with my Master’s Degree from FSU. I spent years working a full-time job and building my business on the side. I had NO CLUE what I was doing, but the difference between me and others is that I started. In 2018, I quit my job, and by 2019, I was up and running full-time on my own. I went from a measly salary with a master’s degree to six figures, tripling my income in three years, with no ceiling on what I could earn. I have had clients come and go, contracts end and begin, but no matter what, I persevere and keep going. It will take a lot for me to give up fighting for the life I want.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m a big proponent that the place doesn’t matter as much as the people. If my best friend were visiting, I would introduce them to all the people in my life because they are the best humans on earth. I would also show them the places that make me happiest, where I go to think or to read a book. For me, that’s always been hiking spots, cliffs, mountain tops, and more nature areas. I shop and eat locally because I believe the heart and soul of a community are the small businesses.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Where do I even begin to answer this? I am 100% the result of the mentors I’ve had in my life. While I may be the one putting in the work, I could not do anything I do without the love, support, and encouragement from friends and family. My parents are beyond supportive of me, and both of them, along with my aunt and uncle, have set an example for me on what it takes to be an entrepreneur. They’ve all owned or still run a successful business in different industries and have shown me what hard work and perseverance look like.
One of the most impactful mentors in my life is Ebe Randeree, the Associate Dean of the College of Communication & Information at Florida State University. Ebe has been the faculty advisor for dozens of student clubs, has always advocated for women in STEM, encouraged students to volunteer, and connected us to local business owners for internships and more. His motto was “Lead or Leave,” which might sound harsh but was one of the most critical mantras I adopted to keep me working hard.
The biggest shout-out is to every business owner and company that has given me a chance to do what I love. Without them saying “yes” or offering an opportunity to me, I wouldn’t be where I am. I know what it means to give up control and trust someone with your brand, so every opportunity, big or small, is a massive deal to me. Jacob at Wideners.com gave me a chance to write years ago without even knowing or meeting me, and I still work with them today. David at CrossBreed Holsters said “yes” to letting me write for them. Jake Martens, who runs USPSA’s Front Sight Magazine, has given me a platform, a voice, and an opportunity to share others’ stories. The team at Athlon Outdoors gave an excited kid at SHOT Show a chance to be published in major magazines. Michael at AmericanFirearms.org has not only allowed me to write for them but also is grateful for my insight, respects what I think about products, and is genuinely enthusiastic about working with me.
There are so many ladies who have not just shown me love but also reminded me of what I have done so far in life when I forget. Jessie, Maylin, Betsy, Crystal, Kelsey, Christina, Neena, and Kim have all supported me, celebrated my wins, listened to my struggles, and reminded me what an impact I have made so far in the industry. Betsy and Maylin both took a class from me, got their concealed carry permit because of me, and shot a shooting competition out of state with me. Maylin and Kelsey have brought friends and traveled hundreds of miles, across state lines, for hours to attend my Gals Day at the Range event. Jessie has been my rock through everything as a fellow competitive shooter. She’s worked matches with me, traveled with me, and been the most positive person I’ve ever met in my personal and professional life.
The only reason I have made it this far in the shooting industry is because of my non-blood brother, Scott Newnam. Scott helped me build my first rifle, zero my first optic, install my first muzzle brake, taught me how to load and shoot a shotgun in 3 gun, and has taught me SO much about firearms that have made me successful today. Scott has seen me fail, seen me succeed, helped me through the tough times, and has stood up for me in ways that many haven’t. I owe him more than he’ll ever know. Scott connected me with Nick Collier at DoubleStar USA who sponsored my spot in their AR-15 Armorer’s course. Even though the class is a few hundred dollars, I’m grateful for every penny as that class means the world to me. Education is the best gift in my opinion and I can’t thank Nick enough for educating me on how to build and work on my own firearms for the rest of my life.
Lastly, I want to thank Brian Conley, the President of Hunters HD Gold, who has been a driving force behind my success. Brian has referred more business to me than anyone since I started working in the industry. Brian has recognized my skills since day one and has let the world know about what I have done for him and his business. He’s been a mentor, a friend, and encouraged me through the good times and the bad. We have both grown our brands together and that has led to both of our successes.
Instagram: @3gunkenzie and @reticleup