Even though we have had to permanently close due to COVID - I hope this information still helps others on their journey to opening their own studio!
In 2011 I was busy moving into our current East 5th Street studio space. I remember the excitement 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 only want to make a lot of money, because chances are you won't right off the bat.
It takes time and commitment to get a studio up and running to produce real full time income. However, if it is your dream and you are passionate about creating a space where others can learn the art of pole and sensual movement, then I want to share a little bit about my story so that it might inspire or give you some insight to my journey owning a successful pole studio.
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.
It's 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. *Meow!*
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. Above are pictures of 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 exist 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. Santa delivered and 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!
The picture on the right was my body at the beginning of my pole journey. As most pole dancers know, as your inner world changes through this art, so does your physical body.
Pole was the first form of exercise where I learned to love my body, no matter what changes it went through as I progressed in pole.
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, it was time to invest in some help!
I went to Las Vegas to be certified in Pole Dancing levels 1-4 by Fawnia in 2009. At that time there weren't a lot of mentors, certifications, or places to go to get information on teaching and owning a studio. Fawnia was the leader and Vegas was the place to go!
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. The pictures above 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 legit 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 studio time by the hour and teach pole so I set up a rental contract and put my first big order in for poles!
The stage poles were my second "big" investment!
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 so I was still working a full-time job.
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 government once I knew that I was committed and I had students coming to my classes. The loan added a new monthly expense, but I was making it work!
Now, thank god I got stage poles, because that meant that they were portable and could go anywhere!
I decided to move out of the first studio I was renting from and move into a friends new dance studio location in January 2011 so I could expand my class offerings and have a more permanent home.
The power of collaborating with another small business women like myself was a win-win for both of us. She was teaching hip-hop and stiletto classes which was complimentary to my pole classes.
As my business started growing, specifically with bachelorette parties, I had to expand my education as well!
I kept hearing about other studios teaching "lap dance" parties, but didn't know how or what to teach in them. Back to researching..... which lead me to StripXpertease. I took it as a sign too that they just happened to be doing a teacher training in the following weeks, so I booked my ticket and was on my way 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!
Teaching as much as I could in my friends studio, I started seeking and checking out spaces that I could rent and have VAMPS be its own brick and mortar studio. Finally after a year of looking and going through the ups and downs of finding my own space, in December 2011, I signed my very first lease to my own studio space in the East Austin neighborhood, which at that time was an up and coming area.
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! =)
At this point I was able to go full time with the studio and quit my daytime job and finally be a full time studio owner. The first two years flew by and I was making just enough money to break even after paying myself a conservative income. I also moved in with a friend to save money on rent and was teaching a lot of classes, competing and doing all of the business admin keeping me a very busy person!
It's now 2019......and A LOT has happened since I moved into our space. Every year had been different and had its challenges. I am finally at a point where the studio pretty much runs itself and I have the freedom to work on other projects and start other businesses without having to worry about having where a "paycheck" is going to come from.
With that said, I have become passionate about other women having the opportunity to start their own businesses so they can make money and be their own boss which has lead me into coaching, training, and teaching others how to start their own businesses.
The previous online Studio Owners Course is temporarily unavailable until a future date as I re-adjust to closing the studio down. Please add your name to the SSSO newsletter below if you are interested in being notified if and when I open any courses back up!
Love and light.... Amber Tarcha aka Ember Ashe