How They Did It: Three Friends Join Forces To Open GoDiva Studio
by R. Asmerom
In April of 2010, three friends, Ty Smith, Nikki Philip and Sonya Miller, decided to go into business together and pool their resources to open up a fitness studio that complemented their love for exotic dance classes. Bored with the regular gym routine, Smith discovered exotic dance classes when she was living in Atlanta, and realized that women could have a fun workout by taking part in pole, belly and erotic fitness dance classes. Today, her and her two business partners operate the Go Diva Studio in Bloomfield, New Jersey. We talk to Smith about their experience with business ownership.
Can you describe the process of launching the studio with your business partners?
The process to open the studio was an interesting one. I say that because we all have corporate IT backgrounds so opening a dance studio was an entirely new concept for us. Going from managing IT projects to managing the studio build out, to obtaining permits from the city and learning how to hire instructors was completely new to us. We definitely found that it was not as easy as we thought it would be.
How did you finance this business?
Initially, we were looking for investors but everyone we approached either did not get our vision or wanted to change our vision. After several discouraging meetings we decided to take a leap of faith and invest $40,000 of our own money to bring our vision to life.
What made you so interested in opening up this type of business?
My partners are both very much into fitness. However, it was like pulling teeth to get me into the gym; I just hated it. Then, i moved to Atlanta in 2007 and started taking exotic dance classes for fitness and i couldn’t believe how much my body was changing while i was having so much fun. I had no idea that fitness could be this fun. I would rave to my now partners about my classes all the time and they would always say they wished they had a place like that in NJ that they could go to. One day we just decided lets do it. Lets give the ladies of New Jersey this experience. Our vision was and will always be to provide the everyday woman with a home away from home place where they can have fun, get fit and most importantly feel comfortable being exactly who they are regardless of size, age or race.
Is this a full-time venture?
The three of us still work our full time jobs so we split our time between our jobs and the studio.