Liz spent five years in the corporate world before determining entrepreneurship was her path. Learn how she diligently planned for a year while pursuing her dream to open a Pure Barre franchise.
1. What was your major and what was your first job?
I graduated with a journalism degree from Indiana University and my first job out of college was with Red Frog Events. I started as an intern, as you could only get hired from within, and was doing a little bit of everything. After my internship, I was hired on full time and spent most of my early years working in event operations and then the last few years I transitioned into overseeing our People Development team. Working for a trusting startup definitely allowed me to gain confidence in many different industries/departments, which ultimately led me to opening Pure Barre Elmhurst!
2. How did you know you wanted to own your own business?
This definitely wasn’t something I had seriously thought about, prior to thinking about my next career move. After Red Frog changed company directions, I started to look for other jobs. Nothing seemed to fit the bill for what I was accustomed to, the past 5 years, working for a fast-paced startup. Growing up my dad and I always discussed different business ventures and franchising opportunities, and when I was hit with an ad via Facebook from Pure Barre…I decided to look into it. I loved Pure Barre as a client, and thought there might be an opportunity here. It was the only boutique fitness workout that continued to keep pulling me back for more. After taking classes for about a year, I decided to reach out as this seemed like the perfect combination of something that would definitely challenge me, while also being something I firmly believed in.
3. What did you have to do to apply for a franchise?
The Lincoln Park studio had been my home studio for a year so I first connected with the owner before applying to gain some insight into her experiences. Then, after I submitted my application and whipped up a business plan, I flew out to Spartanburg, SC to interview with the entire corporate team, where I was approved a few days later. From there, I picked a general location, signed my franchise agreement and starting search for my exact location, which ended up being Elmhurst, IL!
4. How did you find your location?
I drove around with a tenant representative who had helped many Pure Barre owners in the city find their locations. He was definitely knowledgeable on the space requirements for Pure Barre, and had worked closely with corporate so when we found my location, he was very excited about the space! After looking at about 10 spaces over 2 days, I decided to go with my location, situated in between Fleet Feet Sports and a new restaurant called Livia in the Elmhurst City Centre, located centrally downtown. After that, I just followed the normal leasing process with my landlord and things started to become very real!
5. How long was it from the idea to opening the doors?
From the moment I applied to when I actually opened the doors, it was about an 11 month process. I gave 2 months’ notice to Red Frog, stayed until June then opened in late October- so I had about 4 months to really ramp up for our opening!
6. It must’ve been scary taking this leap. How do you overcome the self-doubt?
It was definitely scary. We’re literally on the same block as three other fitness locations, and it definitely took a little while for traffic to build up. You just push through and focus on the end goal. The easy thing is to allow your mind to go to that dark place of self-doubt, but you just have to stop yourself, reframe, and hunker down on how and what your immediate next steps are in front of you to keep building your business. So far, this method has been working.
7. What’s been the most exciting part and scariest part?
Our one year anniversary is this week, and the most exciting part is actually seeing this amazing community continue to grow in fitness and in life. Hearing their stories, some of which match my own story, is genuinely inspiring and motivating.
The biggest challenge we’ve faced is that Elmhurst is a super fit community and there are a lot of boutique fitness options so I had to get creative to get people in the door. Whether it’s community events, teaching PE classes at the local high schools, or our reciprocal membership program that we established with CorePower Yoga, we weren’t afraid to put ourselves out there and get involved, which has been a game changer.
8. What are you most excited for in the next 12-24 months?
You learn a lot in your first year in terms of what works and what doesn’t work. I’m excited to take what I learned and apply it to year two. We’ve recently seen a lot of people coming in off of friend referrals who have mentioned that Pure Barre has changed their lives, so they had to try it. That to me is what this is all about.
9. What advice do you give to someone just starting out?
a. Don’t count yourself out. We’re living in a unique time where there are tons of opportunities for people to explore their ideas and turn them into a career. Do your due diligence and see what speaks to you. Amazing things happen when you’re passionate about what you do. Explore everything and talk to people to collect as much information as possible about what you are about to dive into. Make sure you’re committed to what you want to do, because it definitely becomes part of your everyday life (and those around you- huge shoutout to my husband, Matt for being my number #1 fan and supporter).
Affectionately known to her friends as Millennial Martha for her love of DIY and decorating, Jen can’t help but pour her heart + soul into everything she touches. She’s loved to entertain since acquiring a table and chairs, and giving gifts is one of her favorite hobbies. Jen is the creator of Girl Meets Party. Her dream is to share her passions with the world in hopes to inspire others by making the seemingly unattainable attainable.