5 years today, I was busy moving into our current East 5th Street studio space. I remember the excitment I had for being able to set up a space the way I wanted it to be, along with the anxious fear of if I could actually make it work and pay all the bills that multiplied within 30 days of moving in!
Do you want to open your own pole studio? You figure, you spend all your time taking classes, teaching or hanging out at a pole studio already, why not just make it yours and make all the money?! Well, my first word of advice for anyone who asks about opening up a pole studio is this. Don't open up a pole studio if you want to make a lot of money, because chances are you won't. I will break down this topic in another blog, but for today, I want to share a little bit about my story. The highlights. The path and time I took to get to where I am today.
I took my first pole dance class while I was traveling in Buenos Aires. I fell in love with my first spin and took as many classes as I could. They cost $6 USD each so I figured I needed to take advantage! I have never been a prude or shy girl, but like everyone else, I have my insecurities about my body. Pole Dancing had such a huge impact on me when I first was exposed to it. It allowed me to work through a lot of body issues I had as well as give me a sense of sexual empowerment that was respectful of my body vs. disrespectful. Its hard to explain how pole dancing changed my life but it did. It became a challenging physical outlet for me when I was stressed out pissed or wanting to feel like a bad ass. My current love of dancing was enhanced by allowing me to float and spin in the air on the pole instead of having my feet attached to the ground all times. It also supported my love of pushing my hips out in that salsa like swagger rather than the un natural hips forward and square ballet position that never felt good to me.
It all started here at the Pole Studio in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2007! I only had 3 months to learn everything I could learn before leaving. This was my first inversion and my classmates.
When my time in Buenos Aires was up I was excited to get back to Austin, TX and take some more classes. Little did I know, the classes I was use to didn't exsist in Austin at all! Arriving back home in December, my only Christmas gift request from my family was a $300 Platinum Stages pole for my apartment. They were supportive and made it happen. I started 2008 off in my new place with my living room area furnished with nothing by my pole. =)
Pics of my housewarming party (above) in the beginning of 2008 sharing my pole knowledge! This is me at my heaviest weight of 130 pounds. I had never been above 110 pounds before my trip, suffering from an issue where my body couldn't absorb nutrients. (South Americas food, more fresh and full of nutrients, along with some self work finally allowed my body to get better and put some curves on me, and that's a good thing!)
After trying to learn as much as I could via Youtube and my pole at home along with starting to get request from my friends to teach them some moves, I went to Las Vegas to be certified in Pole Dancing levels 1-4 by Fawnia in 2009. This was the first huge investment and step towards my goal of having a pole studio! I learned so much in this one week and met others like me for the first time! I had been researching a lot about opening up your own business with my cities free and inexpensive classes along with researching other pole studios in the US and checking out what they were doing!
After getting back from Vegas with some curriculum and confidence, I started to use my friends as guinea pigs to teach them what I knew. These are from a photo shoot to try to get some pictures for my first web-site I was putting together at the end of 2009! At this point, I was on a roll and knew I wanted to have ligit classes at a studio, but wasn't ready for a lease of my own. A local dance studio was kind enough to allow me to rent and teach pole so I set up a rental contract and put my first big order in for poles!
This is a picture (above) of the 6 stand alone poles from Platinum Stages I purchased in 2010. Now you might be asking....how did you afford these 6 poles? Well, I was a hairstylist during all this time. I took any extra time I had to research, teach, and work towards this venture. I saved up any extra money I had and invested in myself and the business. I did take out a small business loan (SBA loan) through the goverment once I knew that I was comitted and I had students coming to my classes and I was making some money. The loan added a new monthly expense, but I was making it work!
I decided to move out of Galaxy Dance Studio and rent from a friend of mine who owned Dance Austin Studio and who just moved into her new space in Jan 2011. This allowed me to expand my class offerings and have a more permanent home. This is a pic of me teaching at a Day of Dance Event!
I was teaching more bachelorette parties at this location and classes were picking up. I kept hearing about "lap dance" parties that other studios offered, but didn't know how or what to teach in them. After some google researching I came across StripXpertease that just happened to be doing a teacher training in the following weeks, so I took it as a sign and flew to NYC.
Here I am in 2011 with the group I learned with to teach lap dance and exotic movement! What a blast and great group of gals!
And in December 2011, the previous year of seeking out places to lease came to a close. I signed my very first lease to my own studio space in the East Austin neighboorhood, which at that time was an up and coming area, and the most affordable place I could find. The space inside is under 700 square feet, but that is all I ever needed. I took the space challenge and figured out how to make it work. Look at the pretty red lights and disco ball effect inside the studio! =)
It's 5 years from that day......and A LOT has happened in those 5 years. Once I got into a space of my own, things sped up fast, and my passion turned into a full time job! Those 5 years are for another blog, but in the mean time, I always hope to inspire and encourage others to become entrepreneurs who can turn their talents, hobbies, and ideas into money making businesses that can support themselves with. I took my passion and with time, courage, and dedication made it work. Keeping my full time job during the first few years of the business made a huge difference and helped during the learning curve. (Also made for some sleepless weeks but I knew my bills would get paid even if my pole studio didn't bring in any money)
Are you thinking of opening up a studio or another business?
What challenges are you facing?
What questions do you have for someone who has been through it?
Let me know! I feel like there needs to be more women business owners who are doing what they love and able to build flexibility into their lives. I have so much to say on the topic of owning my own business and all the things I have been through, but I want to know what your interested in by commenting below. =)
Until next time,
Love and light.... Ember