Pole and LeiVola: How It All Started
I often think about where I see myself in the future and typically start this thought process as my future self, looking back and asking, “What have I done with my life? What have I accomplished and contributed to this world?” One of my biggest fears is getting to a certain age and not truly knowing the answer to that question. It actually really scares me to think that I could possibly go through life without doing something that I feel is meaningful and fulfilling. After college I started on my career path in advertising. Once I got into the swing of my work routine, I decided I should take up an extra-curricular activity. Because I have a dance background I thought it would be great to bring that back into my life. Somehow, instead of going to Broadway Dance Center for the hip hop classes I frequented years prior, I ended up in a pole dancing class. My first pole experience inspired me so much that I immediately booked more classes and started scouring YouTube and Google for videos and any information I could find about pole dancing.
Flash forward about 9 months – pole baby birthed! I received a fantastic opportunity by the owner of my studio to start a training program to become a pole dance and fitness instructor. At this point I was so hooked on pole; the connection and passion I felt for what was once just an extra-curricular activity grew so strong that I decided I needed to somehow make it an even bigger part of my life.
I’d heard many girls in my 9 months of pole complain about the limited clothing options available for pole dancers – I myself experienced this issue. I thought, “How great would it be to start a clothing line for my pole friends that fulfills their needs as pole dancers?” It was the perfect plan, until I came back to reality and realized I have no clue how to start a business, let alone a fashion business.
By some stroke of luck a fellow instructor at my studio linked me up with her friend who had years’ worth of design experience in the lingerie industry. I owe my beginnings to her belief in my vision, and the encouragement and advice she provided. Her guidance and skill combined with my determination, hours of research, and an intimate understanding of the needs of pole dancers, provided me with patterns, product prototypes, knowledge about garment manufacturing, business legal counsel, among so many other things. A few very talented friends, that I had the privilege of working with at a prior ad agency, helped me with my logo, marketing materials, and web design and development - and stuck with me through the horror of 3 brand name changes before I decided on LeiVola (sorry guys!).
After getting to the point where I was happy with prototypes (which were tested tirelessly by my amazing Brand Ambassador, Lara Michaels), it was time to find a consultant with manufacturing capabilities who could create production-ready samples and produce. After some wasted time and money (well not wasted – everything is a learning experience!) with one that couldn’t deliver what I needed, I found the right consultant whom I’ve been working with since late 2014 to prepare LeiVola for launch.
Needless to say, I still have SO much to learn, SO much growing to do, and of course, I have to get LeiVola off the ground in the coming year. There have been setbacks, disappointments, drained wallets (well only one wallet – mine – so far), and feelings of anxiety. I’ve had to juggle my full-time job, pole teaching job and business by running back and forth between the garment district and work during my lunch break, since nothing is open (including my consultant) after work hours, and dealing with all other aspects of running my business whenever I have a spare minute during the day, after work, and on weekends.
Yet despite the fact that all of this seems, and actually is at times, very overwhelming, I actually feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Perhaps this business won’t succeed – there’s always a chance of failure in startups, it’s unfortunately what happens to many. Hell, my Kickstarter didn’t even succeed in getting funded (which actually turned out to be a blessing as it allowed me to spend more time on perfecting the design and improving the quality of my product). But, what I do know right now is, the process of starting LeiVola was eerily easier to accomplish than I could have ever imagined and the fate that brought me to where I am today is too apparent to ignore.
For the first time since starting my career I feel like I’m in the right place and I can finally picture what my future could look like. Of course, hard work and financial investment have contributed to my path-paving (such is the way of entrepreneurship). However, I can’t help but feel blessed for the way in which the stars seemed to have aligned themselves thus far.
And in case you’re wondering, when my future self looks back at it all, she feels pretty damn satisfied.