Julia loves our Pound class at our Natick studio. We recently collaborated with Julia and her business: MetroWest and Central MA Woman's Network to offer a cardio Sweatworking event. It is on October 20th at DanceFIT and features a 45-minute POUND workout with our fabulous instructor Rachel, networking, and refreshments. You can register here.
Tell me about yourself. What do you do outside of the studio?
My full-time job is as the Director of Marketing at Boston Color Graphics, a marketing company specializing solutions for clients nationwide within the education, healthcare, nonprofit, and corporate markets. My newly formed side business is the MetroWest & Central MA Women’s Network, an independent group for ambitious female business leaders who live and do business in the MetroWest & Central MA area. We have a vibrant Facebook group of more than 300 women engaged in daily conversation around their careers and goals. Additionally, we host monthly offline events around the MetroWest area featuring networking, workshops, and working out. Our next Sweatworking event is on October 20th at DanceFIT and features a 45-minute POUND workout, networking, and refreshments. I’m also training for my first Spartan Race, so I work out regularly beyond just taking POUND and Pilates at DanceFIT. I also take spin, HIIT, barre, and hot yoga classes regularly. Additionally, I volunteer for both my alma matters: University of Massachusetts Amherst and Framingham State University. I live in Marlborough with my husband, who is actually training for a marathon, and my fat tuxedo cat.
I love having you in classes at DanceFIT! What is your favorite class?
Hands down my favorite class at DanceFIT is POUND with Rachel. The class is a unique cardio workout that is friendly for all fitness levels and Rachel does a fantastic job at offering adjustments for injuries making the class even more inclusive. With my training schedule I can workout 8-10+ times per week and POUND helps to break up my week with a fun cardio burst that is also a great stress reliever.
I know DanceFIT is a special place, but can you share why you keep coming back?
As I mentioned, with my training schedule I go to many studios. But not many studios are as welcoming and professional as DanceFIT. Working out can be intimidating for so many women, and if not done properly you can actually hurt yourself. So, the best studios not only create a warm environment for learning and health but also a safe space for asking questions and feeling accepted at any fitness ability. Every class I take and every instructor I learn from at DanceFIT is enthusiastic, friendly, authentic, and engaged in my success. Additionally, many workouts can be so boring and every workout at DanceFIT is fantastically fun!
We love that you and your business partner run a Facebook group for MetroWest female entrepreneurs. Tell us about this and how this evolved.
My business partner, Lysa Miller of Ladybugz Interactive, and I met through another online networking group that was based in Boston – so like everyone else now, we met online! We each used to work in Boston while living in the MetroWest area, then individually we made the conscious decision to stop working in the city and work in the MetroWest area. We found that when we left the city we didn’t miss the commute or the traffic, but we really missed our strong network of amazing women and the availability of after-work events. We were involved in local groups, but none really that involved professional and entrepreneurial women supporting each other in that same way. Additionally, many of those events were very traditional. We wanted to create something unique, that supported local women, and offered events that they would really want to attend. We envisioned a group that would empower ambitious women in both their professional and personal lives by lifting each other up, rather than competing for the same business. We believe in lifting as we climb. We started by hosting monthly free networking events at CoWork Hudson, and after selling out our first event in 10 days, we knew that we had a service that the local market craved! Now we not only boast an online community of more than 300 women, we host monthly offline events all over the MetroWest area, including workshops and sweatworking events.
What advice would you have for women starting a business?
Julia: Starting a business is the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done – harder than training for a Spartan Race! That being said, if you are prepared for the responsibility and work, you can be paid back in pure joy and the feeling of accomplishment knowing that YOU created something real. I would offer five pieces of advice to other women thinking of starting a business:
Ask your customers what they want; don’t assume you know what they want: If you have a great idea for a product or business (don’t doubt that you do – you most likely have some amazing ideas!) and want to sell that to your customers, you need to find out from them exactly what they want and how they want it. Don’t assume you know more than them. They have a wealth of knowledge: ask for it, they want to tell you all about their opinions! Angela Lussier, a friend and fellow female entrepreneur, said this of her experience of asking her customers what they wanted: “If you are creating something and have any question as to whether or not anyone cares, I highly recommend you figure out who your audience is, reach out to them, and ask if they would like to talk. The benefits go beyond words as it ignites an old part of us – the part that wants to connect, grow, and build something meaningful together.”
Ask for help: We all think we’re Wonder Woman. We think we can do it all by ourselves, never ask for help, and then it all catches up with us. I am 100% guilty of this. Find another professional in your field, a network of supportive women (like the MetroWest & Central MA Women’s Network), or a mentor that you can pose questions to in a safe space, without judgement, so that you can grow in your business. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of growth. And in the same vein, offer advice when others need it.
Get free help: Still thinking about how you can grow as a professional, seek out free resources. Keep your podcast app queued up with a stream of management, startup, and entrepreneurial episodes to keep you informed, engaged, and energized. I recommend: Being Boss, StartUp Podcast, and Open for Business.
Get paid for your work: We have the tendency to want to help: help friends, customers, and help in general. But when we help by giving our work away for free we devalue our work and our brand. It’s essential to get paid for your work, not only for your bottom line, but also for the market valuation of your work and for your feeling of self-worth. I balance this by offering advice for free (example: you may want to check out this great workshop, or try out this option for your marketing campaign, etc) to friends and colleagues, but I charge for my services when I actually do work (launch a new marketing campaign, event planning, etc). And this is still the case for friends and family.
Take credit for your accomplishments: Sometimes we have a sense that it’s bragging to publicly claim your accomplishments. We assume that if we really do something great someone else will give us credit or that you’ll eventually get credit along the way. But if you don’t stand up for yourself, wave your awesomeness flag, you can’t assume anyone else ever will. You need to be your biggest advocate. Additionally, promoting your accomplishments affects your bottom line, as seen in this Huffington Post article.
Lysa: Starting a business is not an easy task. My advice would be not to jump into it too fast. In this day and age, everything can be tested especially online. Put yourself out there and see what the response is. You will be able to gauge if your business idea is going to be successful or not. You can work really hard and spend a lot of time on a business, but if it's not something people want, no matter how hard you work, the success could be limited.
Mom of 3, wife, business owner, ballet teacher and fitness instructor. Trying hard to raise healthy, happy and grateful children while running the studio of my dreams. Trying to stay FIT, flexible, stylish and take care of myself in the process!