A while back we mentioned we were going to start a blog post every Friday featuring inspiring ladies who are doing their thing (or should we say thannng)! We are surrounded by women who have taken the leap to starting their own business and for semi-new business owners ourselves, we like to see how they do it, and what tips they have to share.
To kick off Fem Fridays, we thought what better way than to feature someone who seriously DOES IT ALL. Her name is Gina Fay, and she is the founder of DanceFIT Studio + Virtual DanceFIT Studio. With our crazy work schedule, we religiously take her virtual classes + they are amazing!! This post would go on for eternity if we kept writing about all the awesomeness that she encompasses so we did a lil' Q+A with her. Check out what Gina has to say about being a female business owner, a mom + wife (to an incredibly supportive husband!) and how she does it all while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What was the path leading up to starting your own small business? How did you finally decide to make that leap?
Thank you for featuring me! My name is Gina and I am the owner of DanceFIT Studio, which is located in Brookline and Natick, MA. Our dance studio is a warm, friendly and unique dance community for kids and adults! Our first and foremost goal is for our young dancers to fall in love with movement and ballet. I am also the founder of Virtual DanceFIT Studio a unique online fitness studio. I have always dreamed of owning my own studio, but after taking an inspiring business class with Donald Mitchell at Brookline Adult Education, I was ready!
How long have you had your own business + what has been the biggest learning curve in that time?
I was young, 24 years old when I opened the doors of DanceFIT Studio. We have been open for 6 years. I took the leap very cautiously holding only 3 classes a week my first month in business. Now, we have a big schedule of more than 40 classes per week. I feel like I am learning and embracing new things every day.
While you have a great in studio following, a big part of your business is virtual- why do you think virtual appeals to such a large audience?
I love our virtual fitness world! It feels like an actual studio...almost more personal than a studio! I get to see, hear and be a part of your actual homes! I get to unite amazing women from all parts of the US. When I started the virtual program I was hesitant that it wouldn't work- that clients would want more from the concept. I think the women in our virtual classes have propelled the program to its success. Many virtual clients take more than 7 classes a week and are comfortable chatting before and after class. Everyone is so welcoming and encouraging-it is an atmosphere that you want to be a part of. And yes, I think the workouts are pretty amazing too ;)
How does social media impact your business and have you seen a significant change in the past year or so with social media becoming a sort of epicenter for how people communicate?
Social media has helped DanceFIT in so many ways. Not only is it used for my staff and I to communicate with clients, but also it is a wonderful way for our clients to communicate and get to know each other. We are so lucky to have Katrina Sloan as our social media manager engaging our clients, creating fun contests and networking with other fitness and dance communities. I feel incredibly flattered when a client tags me or DanceFIT in a status update or comment sharing how much they enjoyed their workout or daughter's ballet class.
What do you see as your biggest success to date? Any future goals that you'd like to share?
My biggest success....truly?!?!.....surviving the first year of having my children 14 months apart. Hahaha....I have two amazing boys that are now 3 & 4 years old. They keep me on my toes, literally ALL DAY! I feel a big success at the end of every day :) Professionally speaking, I am very proud of my staff and the business we have grown together. Future goals....DanceFIT Studio is opening its second location this December in Natick, MA! My new studio is only 5 minutes from my house so I am very excited about the day-to-day hands on involvement and a lot of teaching.
Something we've noticed + admired about what your business has created, is a sense of community amongst women from all around the world. Why do you think it's important for women to support other women?
I love this question! Women supporting women have driven DanceFIT! As women we all go through many similar issues in which we can help each other cope, boost someone out of a negative mood or even push someone off the couch to get a workout in. At our studio the clients support each other with high fives, smiles and sweaty hugs. In our virtual studio our clients support each other with a Facebook post, positive quote, a funny story about their kids and yes, lots of virtual hugs on difficult days.
Do you have any advice for the ladies out there who are thinking of going out on there own?
When anyone asks me about owning their own business I remind them that you learn as you go. Get help from professionals and experts when you are lacking a skill and as long as you are doing something you love, your passion will drive your business's success.
A wife, a mom to two cutie pies, an owner of a super successful business- how do you keep it all together? When do you find time for yourself?
I don't always keep it together. As I write this, my house is a mess, I am tired and my to do list is on its 3rd page. Meltdowns are common in my house and I am not just speaking of the children. It is very important for me to make time for myself and eat healthy, which is exactly why I created 6FIT. I know the importance of eating healthy and how clean eating keeps me happy, energized and full! I love getting massages, manicures and taking naps during my "free" time, which is cherished when it comes! My husband, Chris, is my rock. He holds the family and me together and gives me time for myself. Most importantly he knows how much sleep I need to function and gives me a chance to sleep in when I need it. Although he isn't plastered all over DanceFIT, he helps a LOT with my business. Every single constant contact email you have ever read has been revised and revised by him. He is a very hands-on dad and takes the kids on adventures when I need a break, a quiet house or need to get work done. DanceFIT is my 3rd baby, so I don't feel like I am doing work all the time...I love what I do!
What/who inspires you the most- what drives you to keep going on those days where nothing seems to be going right-please tell us we aren't the only ones with horribly crazy days!? :)
My mom!!! She is my guardian angel looking down on me! She was such an amazing mom who put my sisters and I before everything in her life. She gave us such a beautiful childhood and I have no idea how she held it together on rough days, and I know she had them because my sisters and I weren't the easiest ;) I will give you a glimpse....imagine 3 sisters sharing a bedroom. Yes, that was us for our entire childhood and teenage years. Imagine the fights...clothes stealing and overall drama. When days are rough I think about my mom and how she kept a smile on her face!
How would you describe your personal style?
Anything that looks dance-like and that I can run after my kids in! My style has certainly taken a hit the past 4 years. I used to shop A LOT. Now I hit up Nordstrom once a year and the majority my clothes come from Target (they have cute stuff!). I love Lululemon clothes and they last forever! You will find me in leggings, legwarmers and off the shoulder sweatshirts quite often. My style has sort of an 80’s vibe hahaha. I also love headbands and wear one for every workout. I wear a lot of berets and colorful scarves too.
What do you think makes for a comfortable home/work space? Is it the lighting, a cozy blanket, the color of the walls etc...?
Colors of the walls are huge for me! I love light grey-blue because it is so calming. I personally love colors that are mimicked in nature, green, blue, grey, brown.....I hate bad lighting! Soft lights are beautiful. We moved into a new house last January and I am still anxious to start painting and remodeling. I would love a virtualFIT studio makeover!
And of course, we have to ask, what would your dream dance studio look like?
I am in the process of designing it. DanceFIT Natick is beautiful. It is a small studio but it has cork floors (yay for our knees), beautiful adjustable lighting and high ceilings. The studio is painted a pale yellow and our lobby is a chic grey. I’d like the dance studio furniture to be white and clean and glossy! :) I will have inspiration quotes, beautiful photos and personal touches to make it feel like a home away from home for anyone who enters. Our big project right now is installing a large viewing window for parents to watch ballet classes from the lobby. I can't wait to show you pictures!
Thank you, Gina, for being so open + honest with us!! You truly are an inspiration!
Happy Friday everyone + have a beautiful weekend!!