Inspiring Entrepreneurs: The Movement Factory, Cleveland, Ohio
This month begins a new series that will profile Pilates business owners. I wanted to know what inspired these studio owners and entrepreneurs to start their own business and how they made their dreams into a reality. I wanted to hear, first-hand, what these amazing entrepreneurs had to say.
Our first installment looks at The Movement Factory, founded by Alyssa Lee, in Cleveland, Ohio. Years ago, I first met Alyssa at Mills College in Oakland. I liked her instantly because of her high-energy, go-get-’em work ethic. At the time, she was running circles around everyone else managing her own professional dance company and teaching at, what seemed like, a million colleges in the Bay Area. I wanted to see what she had to say about the challenges and rewards of starting her own business.
A: Dance class, ZUMBA®, Booty Barre® classes, dance rehearsal, Pilates classes
H: What inspires you to get out of bed every morning and go to work?
A: My incredible clients! I find it so inspiring to see how my clients lives are improved by the teaching we do.
H: How would you describe what you do professionally every day?
A: I run and operate The Movement Factory, a dance, Pilates, and fitness studio in Cleveland, Ohio. This also includes instructing group Pilates mat and equipment classes, as well as training clients privately.
H: How did you come up with the idea for your business?
A: Ultimately the idea came out of the feeling that there was a gap in what our local businesses offered and that there was a need that I could fill.
I had always wanted to have my own studio. When I moved back to Cleveland after living in the San Francisco Bay Area for 10 years, I was missing a place where I could take drop-in dance classes or Pilates classes. I was teaching group Pilates classes at local fitness centers and gyms but it was not the same as the small studio experience. I started to think about how there was a need in Cleveland for a studio like The Movement Factory.
H: How did you decide to make your dream of opening a studio a reality?
A: It was a long process that spanned many, many years. I taught for dance for 18 years and Pilates for 10 years. I had been running my own dance company since 2002. I was getting burned out from driving from location to location and dreamed of having one place to teach. My classes were very popular and I received loads of positive feedback from clients and students, so I figured that I should follow my dreams and open my own space!
When I moved back to Ohio, I decided to start my search for a space in earnest. As fate would have it, I met someone at a wedding that suggested I talk to her brother who had a wrestling gym and was looking to rent additional space. The building was an old converted factory and I instantly fell in love with it and the overall energy. It was a very immediate and intuitive feeling of – YES, this is the space!
H: What are some of the challenges involved?
A: Owning and running a studio requires a lot of dedication, responsibility, sacrifice, business-know-how, and managerial skills. It means being available 24-hours a day, 7-days per week.
H: I’ve heard business owners joke that ‘Owning your own business means you get to set your own schedule – You get to pick which 12 hours a day you work.’
A: It requires the ability to make decisions and to mistakes with the confidence that you will eventually figure it out (which means being humble). Writing and implementing a business plan is a challenging process but will help with this. You absolutely must have a business plan that will direct your decisions.
Also, learning to take money from people was also a challenge. I had to realize that it was OK for me to ask people to pay for the services I was providing. Sounds crazy, right?!
H: What experience or skills helped you with management?
I’m so thankful for my 8 years as an office manager of a podiatrist’s office in California. I learned essential managerial skills and basic business know-how.
H: What do you love about running your own company?
A: I love setting my own hours and being my own boss. I also really like being able to come up with ideas and see what happens when I implement them. Last, but certainly not least, I love our clients and seeing that awesome people are attracted to the studio and to what we do.
H: Alyssa, you’ve put in the time and tons of hard work for years and years. I’m thrilled by your success! I cannot wait to come see you studio in person. Thank you for sharing your story!
Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
And as always, thank you so much for reading.
Onward and upward,