Updated: Apr 4
Our Story to current date:
Friday, March 27th 2020
Written by: Jessica Rae
The commonly asked questions that we have been getting is how has the COVID-19 health crisis affected our business, and how are we coping with closing our studio, or how are we staying in business? Since we are an in-person service based business, this pandemic has undeniably put us at a large revenue loss. My immediate thoughts as a business owner was to release my team until I can figure out a sustainable situation. The week prior to the Shelter-in-Place mandate, I had been home with a cold, while feeling vulnerable and helpless. As the news about the coronavirus continued to grow, the number in reservations decreased by 80%, while my teachers and hosts started calling in sick. Meanwhile, I was physically on bedrest with body ache. After a full week of self-isolation, I decided to go into the studio on Sunday, March 15th to brainstorm new ideas onto the drawing board. I had been thinking of ways to continue studio services on an online platform, focusing on the question of how to keep our community tied together. I struggled with these ideas because they have never been tested or explored. The week prior, I created my backup plan using a white board to channel my thoughts of creating a virtual live streaming dance studio. I dated this as my team agenda for 3/16, since that was my last scheduled in-person team meeting. Later that evening, I sent out a newsletter to my community describing the heartache and tough decision of closing the studio. (Full Blog here) I remember writing that letter with tears in my eyes, with the thought of releasing everyone of their current jobs. I still had some ideas to explore, but I had to be realistic with my current financial situation.
I set an immediate meeting with my core team for Monday, March 16th, as our last in-person meeting about the ideas created over the past week. That Monday was our true testament of how we act and operate as a team; simply put, "United and Proactive". Later that afternoon, shelter-in-place was announced. My team and I (4 members) had 8 hours to figure out an entire new business model. I think I spent 6 of those hours on the phone talking with each of my instructors about a new, never been tested plan in place; asking them if they would be interested in continuing to teach. I was very concerned because my role as a business owner was to provide instructors a space to teach. How was I going to provide this if it was no longer an option?
In that same day, we launched two online classes, taught by our veteran instructor, Jeremy Jones. Within just 15 minutes of announcing these classes, students started reserving. Jeremy’s first class had 2 students, while his second class (which normally sells out 30 students) had 10 students. I also joined in to experience my very first online class as a studio owner and student, making sure this is a viable solution. After My team and I acknowledgement that this might work. We immediately created a more in-depth schedule, made up of 40 classes as Week 1 - “Test Week”. Reservations came in and most importantly, we had data!
We are wrapping up our second week and the learning curve is real. Monday, March 23rd, we launched 60 classes, featuring almost 30 instructors from our original roster, local to the Bay Area, while we brought back veteran instructors that will be teaching from across the country and internationally. As exciting as this new business model is, running technical support in one space has already been a large task. Now we are running technical and operational support from 30 different homes. Troubleshooting technical issues for so many individuals has proven its challenges. This is where the support from our students really shined. Not only are our students showing up and coming to classes, but they continue helping us in our growth in operations with their incredible feedbacks and tips for making this platform spectacular; truly proving that we are stronger together.
My goal was and is simple. To create job opportunities, and preferably, multiple streams of income that directly support artists. The Virtual Rae Studios platform has been live for one-week and 5 days. My team and I have grown to 4 employee’s, 4 volunteers, 30 instructors and our community of students has grown to over 300+ first time and returning students.
This is how we’ve been handling and coping as a small business to COVID-19. The biggest underline here is that this is out of our hands now. The best thing we can do is to act as a community to stay at home, stay positive, and be pro-creative. I hope that my story can resonate with others and want to remind everyone that we are all in this together.
Thank you for reading,
RECENT PUBLICATIONS INCLUDE:
THE PROFILE: BY POLINA MARINOVA 3/27/2020
Review the recent article from New York reporter Polina Marinova as she share's "In Times of COVID-19, Fitness Entrepreneur Says Creativity Is More Important Than Ever" - Jessica Rae, owns a fitness and dance studio in downtown San Francisco. https://theprofile.substack.com/p/in-times-of-covid-19-fitness-entrepreneur
BENDY: BY ASHBURY SKIES 4/1/2020
CNBC: BY SAL RODRIGUEZ 4/4/2020
"Silicon Valley businesses who made their living from tech industry events are suddenly staring at blank calendars and layoffs"
SOCIAL POSTS FROM OUR COMMUNITY:
We couldn't do it all without the support of our entire team. Just a few clips shared. More images and video's coming soon. #raecrewstrong
Are you looking to help? Ways to further assist the Rae Studios team during this crisis:
1. Make a donations: https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-rae-studios
2. Volunteer your time, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Testimonials: Share your story, how our community affects you. Write a Yelp Review, MindBody review and/or share your written or selfie video to: email@example.com
*Grant Providers, PR, Media Support - please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more about ways to help: Read Our Support Rae Studios Blog Post