In our next feature of Black-Owned studios from around the world, we’re honored to chat with Vanessa and Natasha, co-owners of Aerial Fifty Two in Mississauga, Ontario. Join them LIVE on B&P Online for Bad and Boujee on Wednesday, February 9 at 4pm ET.
Why pole? How did you get into the industry?
Vanessa: I was 16 when I attended a relative’s bachelorette party held at the local pole studio and was amazed at how confident, strong, and graceful the instructors were. I left that event with a newfound admiration for sensual movement and desire to continue to learn more about the sport. I convinced my parents to register me for beginner classes and the love affair began. In 2008 I invested in a home pole, purchased a collection of BeSpun Instructional DVDs, and never looked back.
Natasha: When I was in high school, I saw Jenyne Butterfly on a Facebook video and immediately she became my favorite athlete. When pole reappeared in my life, I was at a strip club for the first time and I was obsessed with how unbothered the dancers were with the effect they had on their audience and how they combined the athleticism of Jenyne Butterfly with clear blatant confidence, I knew it was something I had to do. I was insecure about myself and my body back then and what a revelation it was when I finally started pole.
What inspired you to open your own studio?
Vanessa: As a pole studio administrator for several years, the thought of being a studio owner surfaced from time to time, but I assumed that because I did not compete and had not won any recognized awards, that the pole community would not embrace me as a studio owner. As luck would have it, the opportunity to purchase my local studio emerged at a time where certain aspects of my life were in disarray. I took that opportunity as a sign from the universe to take a risk for once and whole heartedly pursue what had been my passion for the past decade.
Natasha: In my head, I loved pole so much that it was always a dream I had within my first year of starting. The options for pole where I first started were not particularly good for the dance or exotic aspects of pole and the research was already in front of me, so I started writing a notebook full of upfront costs and ideas I had. When I moved back home the opportunity came to me quicker than I imagined (through Vanessa) and my mom told me “Natasha, opportunity does not knock forever. I think you should take it.” And so, I did
Who is your biggest cheerleader/mentor/ who inspires you?
Vanessa: My biggest cheerleader is my sister – often showing me tough love; she never misses a showcase, attends every special event, likes every social media post, wears our branded merchandise and is always excited to tell her friends and peers what her little sister does for a living. Natasha inspires me to continue to do what I love. Watching her work on nemesis moves, drilling choreography, pushing herself day in and day out motivates me to train harder so that I too can be the best dancer I can be.
Natasha: My biggest cheerleaders and mentors are my mom and my boyfriend. Both grew up as and around successful entrepreneurs, have seen all kinds of failure and are willing to help me learn from their experiences. My inspirations in the entertainment industry are Jazzy K, Anastasia Mila, Daphne Lux and Nina Kozub. I love the flows of Jazzy and Anastasia, the musical tastes and sassiness of Daphne and the pure, bad-ass vibe of Nina Kozub. As a business owner, my ultimate inspiration is Taylor Swift. Can you even believe the empire she has created for herself? From her multiple eras to the details in her music, she pays attention to ALL the details of her brand and is not afraid to make bold changes and I have never seen anyone so in control and commanding of their brand. As a business, Taylor Swift is brilliant and all kinds of goals.
What’s kept you going during this pandemic?
Vanessa: The pandemic brought on a lot of hurdles and challenges, but our community of aerialists showed up for us online and were patient with us as we navigated our way through multiple lockdowns. The ongoing support from our dancers and from people who only know us through social media channels reinforced how empowering, positive, and loving the pole community truly is, making this pandemic less infuriating.
Natasha: As a studio owner, it is a little harder to a) make time to train and b) take classes from other instructors. For some reason I feel like there is this pressure that if you are the studio owner, you must be without a doubt, the best of the best and the fact of the matter is that it is hard when you are teaching and then also looking after all the behind the scenes planning and executing. When the pandemic came, a lot of that came to a halt. So, for the first time in a long time, I got to take classes, but not just that, I got to take classes from pole stars I would have never been able to meet until years later or even ever. I grew my skill set so much during the pandemic; I became the best I had ever been, and I will always be thankful for that. It renewed my love for pole because even though I was horribly depressed about the studio being closed due to government mandated lockdown measures (we were closed for 10 months), I got to be a student again and that kept me on my toes as a dancer and as a growing instructor.
What are your looking forward to in 2022?
Vanessa: I am looking forward to continuing to inspire healthy, happy dancers who are ready to dance their way towards a more confident mindset, with pleasers on, of course.
Natasha: In 2022 I want to bring our brand to new highs. It may sound a little bit cocky, but I believe in us, and I believe in myself like crazy. I think anyone who survived this pandemic is a bad-ass and are a force to be reckoned with. We do not need anyone but ourselves to be better than yesterday and in 2022, nothing can stop us. We are going to crush it. On a less cheesy note, I am STOKED for the restrictions and pandemic to hopefully be lifted in Canada. I just want to live my best life with my pole squad, throw awesome limitless showcases and grow the family