This month on B&P Online, we’re featuring Black-Owned studios from all around the world, and their owners/founders. We’re kicking things off with Pole Pressure, the leading pole fitness studio in the Washington, D.C. area, and its owner, Devon. Join Devon this Friday, February 4 at 4pm ET for Intentional Pole Flow, LIVE on B&P Online.
Why pole? How did you get into the industry?
I started pole dancing in 2011 after I discovered a studio on Groupon. I took a few classes, and was like, “ok this is fun!”. I was always the person who’s done multiple workouts. At that time there were a lot of studios in D.C. and I went around to quite a few of them. I finally settled on one where you could learn how to invert and I was hooked from there. And that’s how I discovered Pole Pressure – they had a wide variety of classes and time and that really appealed to me!
What inspired you to open your own studio?
Pole Pressure had already existed – it opened in 2009 and then in 2014, I opened up a second location in Woodbridge, a suburban neighborhood of D.C., which I had for a few years. The demographic in suburbia vs the city is very different. Eventually, Pole Pressure’s founder, Jessalyn, decided she was going to be moving out of the D.C. area, and was looking for a buyer. We spoke over a couple of years and I eventually made the decision to take over the brand in 2017.
Was it a lot different being a studio owner in suburbia vs the city?
Big difference! But there’s also being a studio owner pre-Covid and post-Covid. Pre-Covid, everyone worked in the city and commuted home. They expected to pay a premium. But in the suburbs, they live further out so they want to pay a little less. And then post-Covid, it’s probably the exact opposite now – people are working from home, they have much more flexibility. We’ve added a ton of daytime classes that wouldn’t have been as successful pre-Covid. We have a daytime class every day at this point. Now you can work your job and have that flexibility to come take class in the middle of the day.
Who’s your biggest cheerleader/mentor/who inspires you?
I definitely would say Jessalynn – she inspired me to open a location. I love Pole Pressure, I love what it stood for, and how it’s evolved from her initial vision. It’s a great workout with a welcoming environment. One of the things I pride myself on being an owner is that I want every student to have the same experience coming to a business: to feel like they’re welcome in whatever shape (mentally or physically). I want people to be able to show up authentically as themselves. In the beginning I definitely looked to Jessalynn as a guide – she is a pioneer in the pole sport industry. Today, I find inspiration from everyday people that are making shit happen everyday and that are saying, “today, I am choosing to excel”. Especially in Covid, everyday you don’t know what people are dealing with – mental struggles, family dynamics, a job, everything. I think I find strength from when I see friends or other business owners showing what they did today and how they’re rocking things. A few other pole owners and I created a little collective off the cuff – they inspired me to get my instructor training off the ground (which is now 100% virtual, but I can also offer it hybrid in the studio). I never would have thought to do that, but they pushed me!
What’s kept you going during this pandemic?
I think what keeps me going is that I have a really viable business. I love pole, but I think in the beginning when I started my business, it was because of my love of pole, but then I read this article that said if you’re not paying yourself you have a charity not a business. When I shifted my mindset that I have a business and when I saw that my business was profitable and successful and people were really gravitating to it, that really kept me going. I did a lot of work to get it set up so that when Covid impacted it we were ready to weather the storm. We shifted to virtual within 48 hours and we still maintain a pretty healthy virtual schedule – it’s almost like a second studio.
What are you looking forward to in 2022?
I am looking forward to having the business, looking at where we were in 2019 to 2021, those were very comparable years. I’m looking to re-engage with the growth that we had in 2019. I’m looking to get more daytime classes. We’re a 1600 sq foot studio and we’re making it! I am trying to use every hour of the day on the schedule to have someone on a pole so we can really maximize the space and the studio.