Post number 2! Look at me go! 😂 Thank you for accepting my invitation to follow my story! There are over 70 of you in just over 24 hours! WOW!
I thought it would be good to share with you how I even got into the fitness industry… some of you may know this story, but I think it’s worth sharing in order to illustrate how many changes you can have in life, and that life is NEVER a straight path from point A to point B!
My friend Dawn always used to say “I think you are like CIA, or something!” It’s funny to look back on the amount of career changes I’ve had! I never consciously set out to do so many things – I just always followed my heart and was fortunate enough to be married to a man who supported my crazy need for change which sent me to follow whatever path was most interesting at the time!
Back in the day, in order to get out of school early in my senior year, I decided to learn how to do nails. I got High School credit AND got out early… but had to then spend the afternoon at the Cosmetology school. It was actually super fun, and after I graduated, I was able to get a job at a very nice nail salon in town. I was making really good money (gone are the days of $45 pedicures and $65 acrylic nails!). I had grand plans of opening a salon of my own (always the entrepreneur) and calling it Blackberries (or was it Huckleberries?) Salon for Nail Art – yes, I’m serious. I’m sure I could have (and would have) been talked out of the name, but the concept was all mine – a nail salon dedicated to great airbrushed nail art! I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that this was 1988!
If you know me well, you know I really don’t do much without going ALL IN! As a manicurist, it was no different. When I went away to San Diego State, I did the nails of all the girls in my dorm! I would set up shop in my dorm room and actually did a pretty good business! Rainbows and palm trees on everyone’s nails (and I killed it with holly berries at Christmas!)
I also had several “regular” part time jobs at the mall of every town I ever lived it – from Baskin Robbins and See’s Candy, to Wet Seal and a random sock store at Fashion Island in Newport Beach! But, the path that I was pretty sure was the one for me was Graphic Design. My parents met at a prestigious art school called Art Center College of Design. Art and design had always been a passion for me and going to the same school as my parents made sense… it also always resonated with me that I too may meet my husband there! Sure enough… day 1… the desk in front of me… long hair in a pony tail and a Pearl Jam t-shirt – I was hooked! But not in a romantic way! Aris and I became best friends and were inseparable for a year before we realized what was right in front of us (but I digress – that’s a long story for another time).
I graduated at the top of my class from Art Center in 1995. I had one summer job with a design firm that mainly did work for Mattel – which meant my summer was filled with Barbie shoe patterns on end-cap displays. Not the glamorous design job I was hoping for – but every thing happened for a reason and the reason I had that job was my first real boss, Cheryl Besser. She was kind, and funny and had a great relationship with her husband. More importantly to me, she recognized early on that I was not happy. I started coming in later each day, taking longer lunches and not being my usual cheerful self. One day, about 2 months in, she pulled me aside and asked me about it. What struck me was her compassion. She wasn’t upset that I wasn’t “performing” or meeting the ridiculous deadlines (something called Toy Fair was at the end of the summer which meant countless late, late, LATE nights!). Her primary concern was for my happiness. And she gave me an out. It was the best thing that had happened to me all summer! I didn’t want to leave before Toy Fair, so I found a renewed sense of energy to finish out the summer and left feeling good about my experience. That was exactly 24 years ago and I’m still FB friends with Cheryl today! Cheryl – if you are reading this… thank you!
At the time I was going through that, Aris had gotten a job for the BMW design center in Newbury Park. Fortunately, they needed more people and they hired me (based on Aris’ recommendation, of course!) a month later. And then about a month after that, a sweet new girl named Shannon started in the marketing department just over the wall from where Aris and I sat. See the picture posted here – that’s me and Shannon at the first Studio Barre Owners Meeting 20 years after we met! We instantly became besties – people at work thought we had grown up together! That is the relationship that brought me to where I am today – you never know who you are going to meet on any given day that will one day change the course of everything!
Over the following 19 years, a lot happened! I opened my own design firm in Ventura and designed high-end custom wedding invitations, I closed that studio when I was hired as the lead designer for Vertu Mobile phones (the luxury division of Nokia), I left that job 2 ½ years later to stay home with my first born, 3 years later I went to Massage Therapy school and had a thriving massage business for 4.5 years. Then the market crashed in 2008 and no one wanted to spend money on massages. But I was also itching to get back to doing something creative! So, I started a new design company out of my house and did small business identities. During that time, I also worked at Paper Source at the Thousand Oaks mall – hey, no shame in needing a paycheck! I can’t say that it wasn’t hard “working at the mall” at 38 years old but ya gotta do what ya gotta do! At least I LOVED that store and I got to do super creative things like teach their craft workshops and do the window displays! I was being very creative, working at Paper Source and building my newest design business which led to me putting together a great portfolio. Then seemingly out of nowhere (I’ll go into my strange ability to manifest things in another post) I landed my dream job. I was hired as the Creative Director for Kate Somerville Skincare in Beverly Hills! I ran a small department (3 of us at the end) and did all the product packaging, marketing, photography, retail presentations, in-store displays for Nordstrom and Sephora, all new product launches and new product identities. It was crazy and stressful and rewarding and I day-dreamed about getting hit by a car – just injured enough to need some bed rest in order to spend at least a month away from that place! (I know I can’t be the only person out there that has thought that while in a job they hated!)
But, I learned SO much about running a team and being a boss from my boss. Her name is Michelle Taylor and she has a huge reputation in the skincare world. She was tough. She expected A LOT – to the point of being out of control. But she was also compassionate and had the biggest heart in the building. She would make us all crazy, but you couldn’t help but have a giant soft spot for her. She was raising 4 teenage boys and running this 25 million dollar company. And she would offer me (or anyone else in her vicinity) potato chips from the small bag she constantly ate from or a sip of her bottled iced tea from Bristol Farms. The biggest thing I learned from her about successfully running a team was this: everyone, including the leader is going to mess up. Instead of messing up and apologizing, all she needed was for the person to own the mistake and offer up a solution. Early on in my career I had a boss who screamed at me and fired (and then re-hired me the same day) over a $200 mistake. At Kate Somerville, I made a $10,000 mistake once – it was one of the hardest things I ever did, but I got up my courage, walked into Michelles office, owned up to it, offered the solution that could be put into effect immediately, assured her I would oversee every step of the project to make sure it didn’t happen EVER again, and of course apologized (scared as hell with tears in my eyes). She just looked at me, thanked me, told me she was not happy but appreciated that I had a solution – and then offered me some chips.
After just over 3 years of that, and driving to Beverly hills (about 3 hours round trip every day in my car!) I finally had enough. While all this was going on in my life, Shannon had left BMW to have babies. In a very abbreviated nut shell: She became a personal trainer, found a barre studio, franchised that barre studio, then left that franchise and re-branded as Studio Barre. The whole time, we were (as best friends do) constantly talking about all her amazing ideas and the growth of her business. I was so close to it from day one – with my career as a designer, I helped her with her branding, art directed a lot of the identity, and I felt like it was my baby as well! And from the beginning, Shannon kept telling me I needed to open my own studio – she had faith in me and wanted me to be a part of it! It was so polar opposite to what I was doing in the corporate design world, but I think that was what I loved about it! And knowing me, Shannon knew that the culture she had created with Studio Barre was a perfect fit for my personality. It was 7 years from the time she opened her first studio to the time she was able to franchise her re-branded studio and Aris and I were ready to take the leap – we were her first Franchise sale!
From the very beginning, before we even signed on the dotted line, we knew that the studio would be nothing without the right people. Aris and I would walk our dogs at night the year prior to opening and talk about the type of people we wanted to work on our team. Talk about manifesting!!! Have you met the extraordinary humans that “work” at my studio? I truly believe that my crazy career path has been the exact path needed to allow me to successfully run this team. They are passionate, they share the vision I have for the studio and they truly care about every individual who walks through our doors. I believe I am here to help them and to create a workplace that doesn’t feel like work.
I thank God on the daily for bringing each of these women into my life and Studio Barre into their lives. And I also strive every day to be a better leader for them.
Well, that’s pretty much how I got here. And as I sit here today, I can’t imagine my life without Studio Barre and all the blessings it has brought! The past 5 years haven’t been easy, but they have been more fulfilling than any other time in my life. I’ve also never worked so hard! But, I love what I do and I guess that’s the key, right? It never really feels like work – there are definitely crap days – but more good days, for sure! WAY MORE!
So what does the day-to-day operations of this life look like? Like working all day today and again tomorrow to train a new barre-tender even though it’s a holiday weekend… but loving it and not feeling for a second like I’m missing out on anything else! How do you get that in your life? How do you get to the place that your work is not “work” but instead one of the best and most fulfilling parts of your life? That’s what we’ll get into. I believe everyone can have this – and SHOULD have this! I would love to know what you are most interested in… are you thinking of opening a business? Do you have a business and are struggling with something? Do you need help with a team member, or help keeping on track in your business growth?
Let’s work together to figure it out! I have gained so much knowledge over the past 5 years in this business and the past 29 years of my “career” life and want to share it with you! It’s one of the biggest reasons we decided to open our second studio… I’ve learned so much and I want to do something with everything I’ve learned!
So let’s do it!!! Comment below or DM me with questions or suggestions!
Thanks for reading and Happy Labor Day!
Much love, Cindi
PS. Please share this with anyone you think might be interested in following along and growing with us or who you think may need some help in their business journey! 😘