Happy Tuesday everyone! First, I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to follow and comment on the posts from the 52 Women Entrepreneurs Series! I hope you’re enjoying learning about these amazing ladies. Today on the blog is Jessica Taylor. Jessica is the owner of The Ground, boutique fitness and wellness studio in Littleton Colorado.
I love stories. What’s your story?
Born in Chicago and raised in St. Louis, I was a budding performing artist from the womb. I grew up with one older brother and many foster siblings throughout my childhood and adolescence, which was an incredibly rewarding and unique way of growing up. I started dancing at the age of 5, and though I also studied theater and music as well, I ultimately went to college at Point Park University in Pittsburgh to receive a degree in Modern Dance Performance. While attending PPU, I came back to St. Louis during the summer months to attend massage school and after graduating with my bachelor’s early, I also had my 1000 massage certification (oh, to be 22 and feel immortal!). Shortly after I moved to New York City where I hit the modern dance scene, taking any performance gig I could, while also deciding to get another certification under my belt…Pilates. Like most things I did back then, I put my nose to the grindstone and finished my certification faster than most of my classmates so I could immediately join the fitness workforce to supplement my dance life. Under the mentorship of Lawson Harris in DUMBO, Brooklyn, I found my home at The Lab, a boutique fitness studio where I taught Pilates, Personal Training Urban Rebounder classes, you name it. It was a wonderful community. 2 years into living in NYC, I founded my modern dance company, DAMAGEDANCE, and that became my baby. Choreography has always been a huge p[art of my heart and the only way I have been able to fully express myself. Fast forward 5 years later, lots of tours, more clients, massage and amazing New York food, I decided I needed a change in the quality of my life. I had been teaching at dance intensives most summers in Colorado and had fallen in love with the state. After a lot of city research, I landed in Denver and moved here in 2015. I brought all of my backgrounds with me, built my Pilates clientele back from the ground up and continued to tour DAMAGEDANCE around the state and neighboring states. At the end of 2018, truly feeling the love for what I was doing in the realm of fitness and wellness, I decided to take the plunge in opening up my own space, The Ground. We opened our doors in February of 2019. Since then I have been building my new community of wonderful clients, staff, students, and friends while providing high quality, form-driven fitness instruction.
Tell me about your business?
The Ground is a boutique fitness and wellness studio. We have a high focus in Pilates Mat and Apparatus work, both private and group, but we also offer instruction in Yoga, cardio/strength work through Edge (our original, Pilates-based personal training approach to getting your sweat on), and we also offer wellness workshops, natural product and essential oil education for those looking into cleaner living, and Pilates certification programs. Our motto is that we take our work seriously…but ourselves, not so much. We have an amazing, non-intimidating environment that welcomes any age, fitness level and demographic and provides a lot of laughter and community thrown in with our highly knowledgable work. We don’t throw it around here…we focus on longevity!
Why did you become an entrepreneur?
Well, when I was a kid I used to write plays, force the kids of the neighborhood to perform in them under my direction, create tickets to rip and programs and “invite” (force) families to come watch…so the energy was always there. But officially, 2010 was when I founded DAMAGEDANCE, which is a non-profit. My entire time in Denver I have managed my own independent fitness business through the rental of other spaces and marketing myself independently, but 2019 actually took the plunge for The Ground LLC.
Who is your ideal client?
Anyone who is not only looking for overall wellness but wants to do it RIGHT. We have people come to us to rehab injuries, and we have some who come so they will never get injured again. Some come for balance, increased flexibility, help with coordination, strength and tone, heart health, to get grounded and lower anxiety…you name it! Our current clientele ranges from 10-76 years old!
As an entrepreneur, we face a lot of challenges, what has been your biggest challenge?
No matter what model, whether non-profit, for-profit, MLM, and I work through them all…the biggest challenge is at the start. Getting new people in the door is always the biggest struggle, and without consistency in putting yourself out there, you just won’t get those folks knocking your door down to ask questions! This is where marketing is key…so we hit in many different angles from referrals, word-of-mouth, online resources, social media, ads and even hard copy hand out flyers. Everyone sees things in a different way, and we want to make sure that we are catching their eye.
What has been your biggest accomplishment in your business?
I’d have to say the results of the work. Some of my clients have been with me since I moved to Denver and to say that they have transformed would be an understatement. The reward of seeing your client who you first met post-stroke with serious balance issues now perform amazing coordination exercises without any support, or to see your client with two knee replacements and a spinal fusion completely kill a butt-kicking plank series on the reformer, or even to see your awesome male client get super nerdy with you about the form when they walked in just thinking that this was “girl stuff”. The transformations, the success stories about what they can do now outside of the studio…that is what makes this more than worth it.
What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself as an entrepreneur?
I am an innovative thinker. I’m very creative and have no problem taking a risk. I love encouraging others and helping young instructors and business leaders to find their voice and empowerment. I was blessed with some natural administrative talents, but man is that NOT my favorite thing! I’m excited to one day have a stellar studio manager to support my crazy ideas! Lastly, the minute I told myself that I will never stop learning…that there is always something more to grow from…that is when it got exciting.
What advice would you give someone who just started or wants to become an entrepreneur?
It absolutely won’t happen unless you try. If you think of your idea and get butterflies in your stomach, it’s probably worth it. Don’t forget to ask for help and advice, make your idea clear in your mind and on paper, and then take it one step at a time. But go for it! You will most likely fail (at least in your eyes), multiple times. It’s a part of the constant lessons you will learn to evolve!
Share one fun fact about yourself?
Other then being a foster sister, I can make pasta from scratch, and, according to my best friend, when I watch movies, I watch as if it’s an interactive experience!
What’s your favorite quote?
“It’s good to have an end to journey towards, but it’s the journey that matters in the end” – Unknown
How can my readers connect with you?
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To read more on the 52 Women Entrepreneurs follow these links:
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LYDIA GILLIS PHOTOGRAPHY is Denver based and Destination Wedding Photographer, Seniors and Personal Branding Photographer.