Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kristin Weissman, Founder and CEO of Studio K, located in Orlando, FL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Created in 2010, Studio K is a first-of-its-kind studio offering the largest variety of dance and fitness classes for adults of all levels of ability than anywhere else in the nation. Our tagline is, "The Floor is Yours," meaning no matter your age, size, level of ability, or even if you have a disability, the floor is yours to achieve any goal you wish to achieve. Our team is here to help you every step of the way to make your dream possible in a safe, completely judgment-free, positive environment.
Studio K is known in the media as the studio where "pop culture meets dance and fitness," and we have been named the #1 Best Studio Body and Soul for the last seven consecutive years and the #1 Best Workout Facility for the last two consecutive years, all by the readers of Orlando Magazine. Our customers are adults of all levels of ability ages 14 and up.
Tell us about yourself
I have served as a Public Relations executive for the last 20 years of my career, and I reached a point where I was consistently working 100-hour work weeks, and I was burned out, unhealthy, and unmotivated. Not taking care of myself, a doctor asked what I loved to do, and I said I loved to dance, and he urged me to find a class in my area.
At the time, only one studio had one adult class. I had studied dance as a child through my early adult years, so I was excited to go and to do something that was not the gym where I was always intimidated. I was overweight then, and when I walked in for the class, the studio owner laughed and belittled me for wanting to try. I took the class anyway with all of the very fit professional dancers who did everything possible to make me feel uncomfortable, and I left feeling that no one should ever be left to feel that way again. There had to be more people like me who wanted a place to work out, let go of the work stress, have some fun, learn something new, and, most importantly, be in a positive environment that made them feel better than when they walked in!
That day, Studio K was born. I worked for a year to prepare and then made the decision to leave my very stable full-time position and open a studio for adults of all levels of ability. I am motivated every day when a member comes in so nervous to walk through the door, and after one hour with us, they are smiling, confident, excited, and already making new friends and planning their next visit. We have adults and instructors of all shapes and sizes. We teach everyone from brand new beginners to lifetime professionals. Every single person on that dance floor is important, acknowledged, supported, and a part of our family forever.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is that after two years of Studio K being open, having incredible start-up success, and investing all that I had, we received a shocking blow at the conclusion of my initial lease term when the property was unexpectedly sold to a popular retail chain, and we were given the option to buy everything which I could never do, or leave in 30 days. I lost absolutely everything I had built and invested. After working three full-time jobs for three years, I brought the studio back again, and we have been going strong ever since. We hit our highest level of success literally a month before COVID, then shut everything down, and we have struggled greatly, but we have pulled through the last two years and are now again thriving.
I am so proud of this studio and what we bring to people's lives. It is so much more than a dance and fitness studio - it's a place where adults are truly seen and inspired to be their very best and provide that much-needed connection. When someone leaves and thanks us just for being here for them, I know we will make it through whatever life throws our way.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner is the relentless time and dedication it takes. You will work harder than you ever thought possible, push yourself in ways you never imagined, take risks that keep you up at night, be willing to do every task, lead your team with kindness and motivation, and most importantly to me - to show up, to be fully present, and to remember why you sacrifice so much of your life to make it all possible. It will pay off in the end.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Never let anyone define who you are. You create and push through to build the business of your dreams and trust your instincts.
- Be willing to go through the down times and the unexpected times, and not give up but stay laser-focused on your vision. Those are the businesses that survive. Those owners who can pick themselves up when times get tough and say, tomorrow is a new day, and just keep going.
- Connect with your customers. You cannot build a brand without connection, and you will not survive as a business if you do not build authentic relationships with your unique audience. Make sure they know they matter most of all.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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