Why I jumped at the chance to move into a commercial space but then came back home after three short months
Hey there! I'm Laura - the owner of Unwind Pilates Studio. These are some honest stories about me and my journey into the world of small business ownership, motherhood, marriage and of course Pilates. Some days these will be full of pilates tips to help you every day. Sometimes it will be just me being me so that you can get to know me a little bit better and see that I offer so much more than Pilates classes and some days you may even get a recipe that I've found that will be loved by the whole family. Who knows where it will end up but I'm excited to find out!
It's not failure. It's unfinished success - Joubert Botha
I have always been a dreamer. I’ve also always loved a bit of an adventure. When faced with something new, I have always asked myself “what’s the worst thing that can happen?” So far in life it’s meant that I’ve travelled a lot, lived in a few different places and had several different careers (industrial chemist, pharmaceutical sales rep and now Pilates instructor in case you were curious). When I began my study of the Pilates method, I always dreamed of having my own little space that people could attend to feel better. It was always there in the back of my thoughts – when would it happen?; what would it be like?; where would it be?
I did not expect to meet Jemma @maxyandmimicoffeeshop and have her approach me to move into her beautiful coffee shop late last year. It wasn’t even on my radar as I was about seven months pregnant at the time with my second child. The dreamer in me got completely carried away with the idea of having a little studio inside a coffee shop. I envisioned it to be the meeting place for friends who had a love of coffee and Pilates. I imagined all manner of clients coming in to move and then stop for a chat over a tea or coffee. I envisioned lots of new friendships formed during my mum and bub mat classes and the blossoming of a community of like-minded women. I also imagined being able to do it all with a newborn and a toddler.
I had been lulled into a false state of motherhood with my first - James. He was a textbook baby. He would feed and sleep and occasionally poop. My life was filled with play-dates, coffee and beach walks. Life changed drastically but it was all still manageable. Little did I know my second - Valentino - was going to be a little firecracker from day one. Poor little mite had reflux and would spend most of his awake time screaming if he wasn’t attached to me. That meant lots of time in the carrier while I played with James. Not the easiest thing to do for hours on end. I was also at this time trying to set the studio up. It meant re-branding, building a website, researching booking platforms, learning about social media marketing in a whole new way, accounting, writing, investigating signage, navigating the world of PR. I did all of this as well as manage all of the ‘home work’ that was required. Care of my babies, countless loads of washing, meal preparation for us all, maintaining some sort of relationship with my husband, the list really does go on.
So after several very intense months where I felt on the edge of breakdown most days, Unwind Pilates Studio opened inside the coffee shop in Dudley. James was 2.5 and Valentino was four months old. My husband works for a company that gives fathers 12 weeks paid parental leave. It meant that he was at home caring for Valli while I was getting the studio running smoothly. James was in daycare on the days that I was in the studio. It was all working really nicely.
It was so wonderful to be in a space of my own. Slowly but surely the wonderful people that I am lucky enough to call clients started finding me. Mums were coming every week to the class and staying for coffee and chats afterwards. Wednesdays in the coffee shop were all about prams, sleep and snuggles. Enough to make everyone else in there smile (albeit after the initial overwhelm of so many prams and babies).
With the approach of winter however, the reality of having a studio started to sink in; the constant marketing and sales, the frequent cancellations due to sick children and also the unavailability of many people during the day. Most people work in the day and want to do Pilates before or after work time. With my husband going back to work it meant I was no longer able to do any extended hours as I would be primary carer of our children again.
After lots of soul searching, I finally came to the realisation that in order to be able to survive and keep on teaching, I would need to change my overheads. The easiest way to do this was to move the little studio back home where it used to be. I went over it over and over in my head and eventually it became the only way forward. For the first few days I felt a little bit like I had failed but after many more hours pondering it all, I‘ve decided that it is an evolution rather than a failure. Then I found the quote above and loved that even more!
On Friday, when the equipment was back in the house and the studio was set up in its final home, things just felt right. This is the right decision for Unwind now. Will it always be here? I don’t know. One day when I have more time and the boys are bigger I may make the venture out into a commercial space once more but for now, Unwind Pilates will continue to grow with baby steps in the comfort of my home in Whitebridge.
I am so incredibly fortunate to have had this opportunity. I have learnt so much about business and more importantly myself, in the six short months that I was planning and renting the space. It really was a sink or swim type of situation. The people that I have met and the skills I have obtained would have come along eventually but not so quickly. I am grateful to Jemma for taking a chance on me and I can’t wait to see what the future brings. I will look back on this little adventure when I’m an old lady and think – at least I gave everything a go. I won’t regret not trying something because it might fail. I feel like things going wrong really make a person!
If you’re still here with me, thank you for reading along to one crazy dreamers story.
If you want to come and move with me in the studio, get in touch!