Business & Blogging

When It’s Time To Move, Anatomy Of Studio Relocation - or "Shit I have to move my studio!"

Have you ever had to move or close your business not because you necessarily wanted to, but due to extenuating circumstances? Have you had to do it in a less than reasonable amount of time? I have.

When BK asked me to write a piece on moving my studio I wasn’t sure I wanted to. It was not the happiest moment in my life and I did not really feel like reliving it. But then I thought about one of my core values: inclusivity. Inclusivity means embracing all types of students, all races, sizes, all levels – hell it’s even part of my studio’s tag line. I always try to help other studio owners who reach out with questions and I think it’s really important to share knowledge in our industry. That, along with the fact that people seemed to think our move was easy and went smoothly (it wasn’t and it didn’t), helped me decide to do this piece. I know others have been through similar situations, but I never heard the nitty gritty about how they handled it. So here it is. The 5 stages of my studio move. It isn’t pretty, but it’s real and it’s all right here.

FUCK I HAVE TO MOVE!!!!

DENIAL (week 1): The writing was on the wall for a good year. The landlord was trying to sell the building, the pot store that moved in next door was annoying us, the students had all grown and we needed a space with more height.

My studio needed to move. The thought alone wasn’t scary. I mean sure, moving and re-rigging could be expensive but we have time, there is no real rush, so let’s do this the right way. We will search for the perfect space, save funds diligently and move once we find our new circus & pole mecca.

FEAR: OMG The landlord actually sold the friggin building?

That was the first thought in my head (because honestly it was way over priced). The second thought was “Shit we are probably going to have to move and move fast”. The third was “I am so screwed” and the fourth and hardest thought of all was “Should we move or should we close the studio?”. The fifth was to balls out cry.

I love my studio, truly I do, yet even before I set out to open it I decided that if it became a huge financial or emotional drain, if there was not enough of a student body, ego be damned, I would close it. I think it’s super important to be realistic with your studio. Is it killing you financially, are you being driven by ego, does closing symbolize a fear of failure to you? Honestly, even opening and owning a studio to me is a win. It’s a hard gig. Close if you need to, stay open if it works for you but never look at closing for whatever reason as a failure.

Tip…breathe through it. Take care of yourself. Giving yourself a stroke is not going to make things any better.

That being said, damn it, it wasn’t really the case here. I had already had the come to Jesus talk with myself months earlier about the need to move for growth or close and I was prepared to do it on my terms…just not in six weeks! Six weeks is not a lot of time to actually find and secure a space that would fit our needs, secure funding, come up with a new business plan, hire everyone that needed to be hired – oh and did I mention this all went down right around our student showcase, Thanksgiving and my rigger just booked a job in Turkey? Amazing timing…

DECISION: We had to make a decision and make it fast because we really wanted to be able to give the students a month of time in the studio to finish their classes packs IF we had to close. We went back and forth between thinking “it’s impossible to move that quickly and we need to close” to “we’ve finally hit an amazing stride with the studio and this is NOT the way we want to go out”. We loved our students and the community we built. If Aeriform were to close it should be on our own terms not because someone bought our building. Throughout this whole period we spent every waking moment dragging ourselves and eventually our rigger to locations all over LA. We decided finding a space would dictate whether or not we would close. We basically left it to the universe. We wanted to stay open, but we weren’t willing to blindly move into a space that didn’t work for us. We gave ourselves two weeks to find a space or roll out our exit plan.

Tip…be realistic about your finances, your motivations and the projected outcome.

ACCEPTANCE (week 2): I did eventually find a dark, depressing, sad little space deep in the Valley but hey at least it had high ceilings! In an attempt to be an optimist and because I did not want to admit defeat I dragged my husband and our rigger there and said “We can do this, right, this will work, some paint, new floors…it will work”. They begrudgingly agreed but behind my back they agreed it was a bad idea. It was doable but felt all wrong. I knew that space was wrong but I was not ready to give up my baby.

“If it feels wrong, it is.”

So even while I was talking with the owners of that sad space, I continued to look and literally on the last day I found a listing on Craigslist that sounded promising. I told our rigger we were looking at one more space then sent my husband over to see it. He loved it. I went over the next day, fell in love with it and then sent over our rigger who loved it too. At the last minute we had found our space, took it as a sign and moved full steam ahead with the closing and re-opening of our studio in a new space.

Tip…make sure you are looking towards the future. Right now you are in crisis mode and probably looking for any space you can “make work”. Try instead to look for a space you can grow into or with.

PLANNING/BUDGETING/EXECUTION (week 3-6): On Oct 10th, during our student showcase and 4 Year Anniversary Party, we made the announcement that we were closing our North Hollywood location on Oct 25 for three weeks and would then re-open in our new Hollywood location with more height and space. We prayed that with the geographical change and three weeks down we wouldn’t lose too many students (we didn’t).

Tip…do as much as you can yourself but know when to hire the pros. Make sure to spend the money where it counts. Make a budget and then add in a contingency of at least 25% – trust.

I set a budget and started working the numbers. While we found an amazing space there were still a lot of things to deal with. There are unforeseen costs and multiple things to take into consideration when changing locations. Here are just a few of the items we had to take care of in just 3 weeks…

Work through a tricky lease

De-rig and move from our old location

Hang not 2 walls of mirrors but 3 because the pro hung mirrors that cost way too much money to think about came crashing down 1 week before our grand reopening

Have new rigging designed, purchased and built out. The added ceiling height was great and at 15 -18ft we would have a lot of new apparatus and class options but it also meant we had to buy all new rigging and that meant a very pretty and new truss set up, plus a pulley system (which we LOVE) but $$$

My rigger had a job outside of the country so while the truss was up for both the aerial and pole sides of the studio the actual poles didn’t go up until after our open house

More Height = more insurance

The studio floors were concrete so we needed to build a padded dance floor side, which we decided to do ourselves. We also needed to purchase and lay full mat flooring for the aerial side. Lot’s of the items we were looking for were out of stock for weeks.

Two sides means 2 sound systems, two cubby set ups, two…well you get my point right?

Different height = all new crash pads. I am lucky to live in LA where I can purchase them and pick them up to avoid shipping, don’t assume stores will have them in stock as they are a specialty item. Mine didn’t, so I begged, they took pity and rush made them for me.

Our landlord had taken out the shower plumbing so he needed to put it back in.

Tip…Share your situation with a few key trusted people. Once you do share with the staff and any students keep them in the loop. Post progress updates. Make it an event - a good thing. People get scared with the prospect of losing their jobs or studio, reassure people as much as you can during this time.

In the end all of the emotions you go through when faced with a crisis in your business can be difficult. My initial instinct was to not share the situation with my instructors or close friends until we figured out whether or not the studio would close. That choice was literally making me sick. I didn’t want to scare anyone, but when going through something like this it’s important to have support. Once I shared it with my instructors and a few key students it took a huge weight off my back. What we accomplished as a team in just 3 weeks of moving, building, painting and rigging still boggles my mind. I know there is no way we could have ever pulled it off without the love, help and support of so many of our students, friends, employees, contractors, amazing rigger and I thank God for them everyday. We closed down our old space Oct. 25th reopened the new space 3 weeks later Nov. 15th.

While initially the experience was difficult and felt very wrong, in the end I think we are where we were meant to be. For the sake of our studio’s growth it really was time to move. Maybe this was just the universe’s way of kicking our butts, tossing us out of the nest and pushing us to create that loving, safe space, that “just feels right”.

*Have a similar story or questions? We’d love for you to share them here.

Love & Glitter

5 WAYS TO PLAN YOUR DAY FOR MORE PRODUCTIVITY

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I’ve always been a go-gadget-go kind of girl and while I thrive in an environment where I am busier than not, it has taken some work to find a happy balance between over extending myself and having a realistic set of goals. I am a full time, married, television executive, aerial studio owner and avid (wanna be) surfing babe. One of the things I’m always asked is – how do I manage to fit as much as I do within a 7 day week?

Balance and productivity are key, but just how does one go about achieving these goals. I’ve found that while it is a life long pursuit, there are certain things one can do to help the situation along. Here are my top 5 tips for planning a more productive day.

  • EAT A HEALTHY BREAKFAST: “I’m hungry and sleepy and hungry and lazy…I’m going back to bed”  been there, done that. It’s hard to be productive when you’re hungry or not working at peak performance. Our bodies and mind need fuel to get you through the day and while it seems really obvious, many people skip this step – eat breakfast.

  • START THE DAY OUT DOING SOMETHING JUST FOR YOU: Spend the first 30 to 60 minutes of the day doing something that helps calm you and sets your intention for the day and by intention I don’t mean on what you plan on getting done, but rather your mood for the day. I try to surf in the morning before work as often as possible. It’s soothes my soul and quiets my thoughts allowing me to be fresh and invigorated at work. It’s no surprise that the days I go surfing before work are always less stressful and more productive. Find what works for you whether it be yoga, taking a long walk, getting up early to have coffee and watch CNN, dance naked – whatever floats your boat. Allow yourself a little you time in the morning and the rest of your day will flow smoother.

  • PRIORITIZE: Prioritization is one of the most important keys to productivity but sometimes we can get overwhelmed by the amount of work or items we need to complete. No worries I have a master plan! Start with a list of overall goals for your week, I know this list can seem large and sometimes undo-able but we need to look at it differently. Once you have this list built out, break it down to your overall daily goals. Once your daily goals are in order break down those goals into bite size pieces that you can work on over the week. This makes things easier to comprehend, handle and achieve. When breaking down your goals try to think about what works chronologically. This will help you immensely. Sometimes we get so caught up in the big picture (“Oh My God – I will never finish designing this web site, there’s just too much to do”) that if we just made the picture smaller, bite sized even (“Okay, now that I have the header to the web site built out I can start working on some of the other graphics elements”) our goals would seem much more reachable.

  • ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS: Distractions shift our focus from the tasks at hand which in turn limits our productivity. Social media and the internet can be extremely useful OR a black hole of time and energy. Eliminate distractions by limiting the amount of time you surf the net and social media. There are plenty of “timer/clock” web sites and apps that help schedule your online time. Learn to lock down certain web sites after a certain point, use an app or just schedule time appropriately. Spend a few minutes during the day to go over your emails and try to limit the amount of time you spend with them unless of course you have to respond to them for work.

  • EMBRACE A HEALTHY WORK LIFE BALANCE: You know how hard it is to get anything done or give your full attention to something when you are stressed right? That’s why as important as it is to work on your, career, business or job, it’s equally important to work on your life outside of these elements. It’s much easier to enjoy both your personal life – hell I don’t even like that saying – your LIFE and  your work when you have a better balance between the two. When you have this balance,  you’re happy. Happy people have a tendency to put forth more effort towards everything and a whole lot less procrastination!


These are just a few ways I work towards being more positive and productive. What works for me may not work for everyone but give these ideas a go! I would love to hear your tips and life hacks for productivity. Please share them here.

Love & Glitter!

Studio Diaries: Top 10 Things I learned By Opening My Own Business

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Dammit I'm just going to have to open my own pole/aerial studio then I can run it my own way, I remember smugly thinking one day. I started thinking about it often, every other day, many days, many more days, mentioning it to friends, mentioning it to my accountant, mentioning it to a realtor, mentioning it to my hubby and somewhere along the line, somehow - BAM -  I owned a studio? [Tweet "It's super important to know what you know and know what you don't - then own it!"]

A lot of shit has happened in the past 3 years of owning and running Aeriform Arts, good stuff, annoying stuff, happy stuff, growth. Enough to fill a book and way too much for a blog post so for now let's just chat about my 10 best tips, revelations and findings that I learned from running my own business.

  1. Know your budget. So you say you have a realistic budget set up? Right - take that number and add at least another 40%, trust me on this at least 40%. Things will come up. Things you didn't expect or could have never foreseen. It's not your fault, it just is - better to be ready for it.
  2. Do as much yourself as you can for your company. If you can do it yourself do it. At least in the beginning. Do you really need the cleaning woman? For a long time at my studio we had a manager that worked for us and we covered the weekends. What a colossal waste of money. Now my husband runs the studio m-f and we have someone cover the weekends. Had we done this from the get go we would have more savings.
  3. It's super important to know what you know and know what you don't - then own it!I know enough web stuff to design a website BUT I do not know enough about photography to take photos for said site (although I'm working on it). I am, however, smart enough to know I suck at them and need to hire someone who doesn't.
  4. Have a realistic business plan & LIFE plan in place. Things will change, morph and grow over time but have one in place from the jump. Now here's the thing - most people have (or should have) a business plan in place, yet most everyone forgets to have a life plan in place. Hell I know I did. I had the financials, paperwork, support systems and vendors all worked out. I have a full time career, now I'm opening up a studio? When the hell am I going to be able to go out and get drunk, have a date night with my husband or watch Tivo for 3 hours? The thing I forgot to focus on was my life outside my business, how the fuck to eat sleep & be merry. Plan this shit out - you'll miss it!
  5. Listen to your clients. Clients are going to offer up LOTS - O suggestions. Listen to them all. A good deal of the suggestions will make no sense for your brand, or they don't actually understand the inner workings of your company, but some of them - some will be GEMS! For example "Hey Veruca I love this class - there should be more people in this class?!?! Maybe if you add the word cirque to the class it would help. People like that shit" so we did and boy was she right.
  6. Know that the customer is not always right. At least know when they are really wrong. There will be times when there is no pleasing anyone and you have to just say "no". Whoever came up with "the customer is always right" clearly didn't actually run a business on a day to day basis. I mean I get it, customer service is key and we do pride ourselves on going the extra mile for our clients but at some point enough is enough and you have to learn how to delicately handle some of the crazy customer service situations you will find yourself in. [Tweet "Don't forget to focus on life outside of business, how the fuck to eat sleep & be merry"]
  7. Some days you will be over the moon happy and other days you will want to quit. Running your own business is hard. It can be extremely rewarding but it is hard. Enjoy the good days, revel in them. If you ever feel like giving up, sit down, take a deep breath and step away from the situation for a moment. Try to remember why you created this in the first place. I'm sure generating an income is one of the reasons, but I'm also pretty sure there are more. Maybe you wanted to create something for you and your family or you wanted to be able to stay home with your children, have a better schedule, you felt passionate about your product - what ever drove you to starting your biz - try to remember it fondly. Talk with a neutral friend and ask for advice. Look at what the issue is and see if it can be fixed or improved or salvaged and then...
  8. Don't be afraid to walk away if you need to. Don't be afraid to say "okay this didn't work out as I planned" This is not a failure. This doesn't represent who you are as a person. The only time we fail is if we don't try. The moment you embrace this the amount of stress that is relieved will be mind blowing.
  9. Celebrate the small things!We always celebrate the big accomplishments but somehow never the small. I think it's extremely important to celebrate the everyday "wins" it keeps us going. It shows a progression in our business and personal lives and reminds us why we do what we do.
  10. Gratitude is key. Be grateful that after year 1 you are still in operation. Be grateful that your product or services helps people. Be grateful you live in a country where you can start your own business swinging around a pole. Just be grateful!

It's been a huge learning curve and even though there have been a lot of blood, sweat and tears, I wouldn't give up the past 3 years for anything! Learning about my business has helped me learn about myself. Hopefully some of these insights will help you on your journey.

I would love to hear from anyone regarding what you've learned from starting your own business, things you would do differently, things you never expected, that amazing moment where you knew you had made it, share it with us here!

Love & Glitter,