How did you start your career?
Between 2006 and 2007 I realized that I wanted to dedicate my career to wellness. In 2007, I co-founded Vital Juice, a health and wellness daily e-newsletter focused on delivering the latest trends, research, and tips in the areas of fitness, beauty, nutrition, and wellness. Then in 2011, I started SLT, due to a personal search for group training that would give me the results I was looking for, and it went from 1 studio to 26. Finally, in 2018 I co-founded my new business, Stretch*d.
What is the future like for brick-and-mortar in your opinion? Is there the ability for it to be a long term sole source of revenue?
If I have learned one thing it is that you shouldn’t have all of your eggs in one basket. We couldn’t anticipate this, but if I look back, I realize that a multi-platform strategy is the way to go. The most fortunate businesses were already adding this additional revenue stream and bringing things online. We were selling the in studio or in space experiences as being superior and in retrospect maybe that wasn’t the right call. So we had to pivot and go online and change everything we had been about to have any sort of business.
How can you pivot? Do you plan it out?
One way is to experiment and just try things out or the other way is to start planning something and projecting to turn your business around. Planning things is very important to prove if your investment will be successful. You have to plan for it and pursue the things that you see as realistic.
Do you think virtual fitness is a pivot to invest in now?
At this time, if you don’t have things online you are going to start losing money. Before looking for other pivots you have to offer your customers something that makes them stay with you. I’ve seen in some studios that while they are reopening they are reducing their online classes but not eliminating all of them, because those classes became part of their business.
How do you know if something is a good move or a good venture?
A great pivot or idea is the one that in a year from now could still be a great part of your business. There are businesses that are thriving online, and that can become their entire business in a year from now. Right now, investing in online business may be a good idea, but you have to make a great plan to do it.
Let’s talk about your latest pivot from Stretch*d to Stretch*d Academy, how was Stretch*d Academy born?
Lots of studios are getting lots of revenue from training people, this was something that was not in our original idea, but we have lots of people asking us to train them. As the demand increased we decided to make it a part of our business. Then, for COVID we realized that we had to adapt it online, and it worked!
How does it work? Do you have different types of training or certifications?
We knew that there was a huge community that couldn’t be teaching their usual classes, and realized that this (as it’s 1:1) was the perfect thing to offer to them. Also, a lot of trainers were stretching their clients but they weren’t certified, and so we want to be the ones behind those certifications. In Stretch*d we offer lots of different levels of training and there are also specific focuses like prenatal stretching and stretching for different injuries.
What do you think are the permanent changes COVID caused to businesses? What changes have you made in SLT and Stretch*d?
Clients and instructors are leaving the city, and what you see now could probably be more dramatic in the future. We have to make expensive changes in our studios for SLT, we are going to have to increase our prices to cover these expenses. A lot of the protocols we are putting in place will last. Also, SLT is planning to launch an On-Demand platform and we plan to have it forever. I was very decisive in the past not to do this but you have to adapt. For Stretch*d we are doing stretches and training through Zoom. This is here to stay so we have to make permanent changes.
In your experience having different locations, what’s your best advice for landlord/tenant negotiations?
If you have multiple locations you have to have your spreadsheets to keep everything organized. You have to have a good relationship with your landlords. The best thing to do is to find a middle ground with your landlord where both of you win. Finally, you have to look at ALL of the little details of your options.
What is your advice for finding the courage to take risks and pivot into different businesses?
I think that people take more risks when they are getting older because they know more, but you always have to think about what’s best for your business and how to secure yourself. As far as risks go, I think the ones that I pursued were the ones I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The ones that are nagging you are the ones you should chase. Because if you don’t push yourself to do it someone else is going to do it instead.