This Black Female Exec Juggles Career, Motherhood and a New Business
I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, but after having my second child, I wanted to develop it further and decided to take a leap of faith. I chose AKT as an entrepreneurial venture because I knew I wanted to go the franchise route, and it was the perfect fit for me and the three specific qualities I was looking for – boutique, different, and authentic.
I have seen first-hand the positive results and experiences that boutique fitness delivers, being a member of a few other studios previously, which made it the only choice I was interested in. I also wanted a concept that was differentiated, and like nothing else on the market today. I knew to be successful, the franchise I chose had to be something that consumers would either leave their current fitness membership to join, or something that they would be interested in adding to their current workout routine.
Additionally, I wanted to enjoy it enough to do it everyday myself! I didn’t want to start something that doesn’t bring me joy, and I wanted others to experience how AKT made me feel. I love to dance (despite having two left feet), so I immediately gravitated toward this dance-based modality with a sexy, empowering vibe.
Finally, I wanted an authentic brand. Anything that I am going to own, support, and stand by needs to align with my personal values and standards. It needs to not only be backed by science and truly deliver results, but be genuine in what the brand stands for. I really loved that AKT leverages both movement and dance to help achieve health and fitness goals, while still having fun!
Something else I wanted to keep in mind when starting my business was diversity. My father immigrated to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago in the sixties with only a small suitcase, and an even smaller amount of money. Through his determination and grit, he made it work and overcame the cards stacked against him. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree and became the chair of the Language and Literature Department at Alabama State University. He purchased and made a beautiful home for his family, and owned several others that he rented out to provide additional income as an entrepreneur himself. The work ethic and drive that my father instilled in me has been incredibly critical to my success in both my entrepreneurial journey and corporate America.
As a minority female, I have had to look past the microaggressions, closed doors, and prejudices, and stay focused on building something of my own where I can create a safe, uplifting space for my diverse AKT Perimeter team and community. I am so glad to have my studio be a place for people of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds to thrive.
I also want to note that over sixty percent of AKT owners are female, and I have found an amazing and strong support system among them. Several of us have been able to connect and openly share our successes and setbacks alike in the spirit of community and building each other up. A win for one of us is a win for all of us, and I am so grateful to have this community of strong entrepreneurs behind me.
Juggling business ownership and my day-to-day corporate career definitely takes a village… and a lot of coffee! Having a full time career, business, and family is no joke, especially when your business is not in the state you live in. I could not be doing this without the support of my family and friends, especially my husband. He is not only my co-owner, but when I travel to Atlanta for extended periods of time to be in-studio, he holds down the fort, takes the kids to and from school and their extracurriculars, deals with drama and tantrums, and makes them food they will actually eat. My loved ones have really been the ultimate support system, sounding board, and the best cheerleaders.
It’s also important to point out the importance of hiring a strong leader and empowering them. We have an awesome general manager, whose presence and hard work has been a driving force in the success of the studio.
Unfortunately, juggling all of this has challenged my workout consistency, which is a bit ironic if you think about it. Therefore, as I write this, I am putting it out into the universe that I am going to re-prioritize my self-care and get back to my fitness routine. Hold me accountable, please!
Circling back to my kids, part of the reason my husband and I took on this business venture was to leave a legacy for our two daughters. After twenty years in corporate America, I had reached a point where I realized that I needed something more to supplement my career. No matter how much I gave and how many times I moved up the ladder, I had yet to feel like I was in control of my own destiny.
From the moment I signed my franchise agreement, I felt like a new woman – I was finally in control of my own destiny. Now, every single decision I make, no matter how big or small it may seem, directly impacts my studio’s success, my team, and the community we are building.
I want this experience to show my daughters that they can do anything if they just set their minds to it. I often tell them, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” Not only is it important for them to see that I am following my dreams and building my business, but that I am also positively impacting others everyday. Over ninety percent of AKT’s clientele are women, and they come to the studio with a goal in mind. For a moment of self-care. To dance and sweat away the stress of the day. To come together as a community to support and uplift one another. To leave changed. I am so proud to create this experience for them – it makes all the juggling worth it!