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One-on-one with specialty running store owner, Jessica Hoepner

Hoepner is the owner of the specialty running store, Performance Running Outfitters, located in Brookfield, Oconomowoc, and Shorewood.

Age: 31
Title: Owner
Previous job: Several, from selling office supplies to realty.
First job: Worked at a lemonade stand when she was 15.
Education: Attended UW-Madison for one year before transferring to UW-Whitewater, where she got her degree in finance.
Resides: Brookfield, Wisconsin.
Grew up: Hales Corners, Wisconsin.
Person most admired: Her husband and business partner, Trae.
Favorite movie: She likes romantic comedies. She doesn’t have a particular favorite because she usually falls asleep before the end so she has a hard time remembering them.
Favorite quote: “Don’t let what you can’t change interfere with what you can do. ”
Favorite book: Currently, “The Help” but it changes every couple of months.

Jessica Hoepner, like many mid-20 something’s, was trying to find a career that would fulfill her passion. After several jobs that just weren’t cutting it, Jessica dreamt big. She decided she wanted to become a business owner. “But what kind of store should I open?,” she thought. After narrowing it down to her two passions, baking and running, she drove home to lay down the big news to her husband, Trae. He was instantly intrigued. After weighing the pro’s and con’s of opening both types of stores, she decided that a running store was just what this town, and her life, needed. Soon after, Jess quit her job, borrowed against her home, and made her dream a reality.

Hoepner’s running career started in the Milwaukee area, as a high school cross country and track and field runner at Whitnall High School. It was there that she met her future husband, future business partner, and the person who inspires her the most, Trae Hoepner, a fellow track athlete. She went on to college and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for one year before transferring to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She was a finance major and cross-country runner.

I asked her about her experience running collegiately and how that helped fuel her passion to stay in the running business. Coming from a very intense high school program, she said the college program she was much more laid back. She was took her own splits during workouts and had to self-motivate herself to get out the door and log the necessary miles. She gives the more relaxed program credit for not burning her out. I know from personal experience that once runners graduate they can take one of two paths. The first, is be done with running, and the second is to continue their love for it by training and racing for personal satisfaction. Jessica continued. So what was this runner chick up to after giving up the 5k’s and 6k’s that collegiate racing brought her? Well, Jessica went big. She chose the marathon, completing a total of 6, one of which was the prestigious, Boston Marathon.

It has been 5 years since the Hoepner’s opened up their first running store in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Jessica, “can’t believe how fast the years have gone. ” Now Jessica and Trae have expanded the business, opening stores in Oconomowoc and Shorewood. Jess made a monumental move when she quit her job and invest her money and life into a store.  She is an inspiration for many women who want to follow their dream but have reserves. She believes that you have to “take a risk and follow your heart. ”

The biggest challenge Jessica has faced since taking the biggest risk of her life is balancing her work and her personal life. She is highly involved in all the stores, hiring knowledgeable staff, training the staff to understand and perform the fitting process, stocking shoes, nutrition, and clothing, helping out with local races, and more. Despite the heavy load Jessica carries each day, she does get to enjoy one major perk, which she describes as the “best part of her job”. She shares her office with a four-legged friend, her 6-year-old Great Dane, Porche.  Porche is known as the store mascot. Adults and, especially, children always request to see this humungous, yet gentle, dog. 

You can find Jessica and Porche at Performance Running Outfitters in Brookfield, and her other friendly staff in Oconomowoc and Shorewood. The fitting process is a free service, which helps runners and walkers find the perfect shoe for their needs. Come visit!

Stephanie Perleberg is a graduate of Wisconsin- La Crosse where she studied Communication and Recreation Management. She was a three sport collegiate athlete, running cross country, indoor track and outdoor track and field. She found success in distance running becoming a three-time All-American and the 2009 National Champion in the steeplechase. She is the Communications and Resource Manager at and is a graduate student at UW-Milwaukee in the Media Studies department where she focuses her attention on women’s sports in the media. She loves writing, running (on most days), and feminism.



Bernell Hooker

Bernell Hooker is the Founder and CEO of Images of Us (IOU) Sports; a non-profit organization that empowers girls and women through education and sports. "Think of yourself as an athlete. I guarantee you it will change the way you walk, the way you work, and the decisions you make about leadership, teamwork, and success." - Mariah Burton Nelson