I was first introduced to 305 Fitness by my best friend Alex who recently fell in love with the studio’s dance-based workout and girl power attitude. Admittedly, I’m not huge into fitness but I DO love me some Zumba, so when the opportunity to enter a raffle for a package at 305 presented itself, I went for it and WON! I attended several classes with Alex and immediately understood the appeal: an energizing workout with a live DJ, black lights, and sweet dance moves taught by seriously talented instructors. Had it not been for Alex telling me time and again how much she loved the class, I may never have mustered up the courage to try it out myself.
That whole “word-of-mouth” marketing thing is by design for 305, something founder Sadie Kurzban, 26, realized early on when growing her unique fitness class from an idea tested on her fellow Brown University students to the growing empire it is today. 305 now has two studios in New York City, classes in DC and Boston, periodic pop-ups in Miami and LA, and more studios on the horizon.
Alex recently connected me with Sadie to discuss the challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship and absorb any business advice she was willing to offer. Sadie’s insight has been invaluable and I am so grateful to her for her time, openness and actionable business advice–not to mention her agreeing to be March’s Neon-trepreneur. (Thanks, Sadie!!)
Now without further ado, some mega impactful insight from Sadie herself.
Have you always had an entrepreneurial spirit? If so, can you share any early entrepreneurial endeavors?
Looking back on my childhood, I had my hands in plenty of business endeavors. When I was in 3rd grade, I founded a little cake making business. My parents would pay for the ingredients. I would collect orders in advance (so as not to create any waste). I charged $20/cake. Pure profit! I got to a point where I was making 10-15 cakes/week and had a whole operation down. I would make the batter all at once, time it appropriately so they could bake all together. I would do homework as they cooled down and then ice them together. My target demo? The lawyers and paralegals who worked for my parents. It was genius. They felt obligated to fork up the $20, even though most of them were living the #singlelife and probably didn’t need an entire cake/week. Eventually, my parents shut it down.
What drove you to launch 305? How did you know it was “the right time” (if there is such a thing)?
There is never a right time to start a business. I moved to New York City with $25,000 in my pocket. I had just turned 22 and graduated from college. I had never worked for anybody else. I had very little idea what I was doing but I had a vision. I knew if I could put one foot in front of the other, I would get there. I really believed in the product, with all my heart, so I knew from the beginning it was a persistence game. I thought that I should wait…wait for real work experience, wait to have more savings, wait to go to business school. Eventually, I realized that momentum was the most important thing I had going for me. I took the plunge. I’m so happy I did.
“I realized that momentum was the most important thing I had going for me.”
What inspires you in regards to your business?
We are the irreverent, loud, feminist brand the fitness world needs. We are giving people (especially women) an outlet to feel strong and empowered. What inspires me most are the clients and their stories. Knowing so many of them come to our class, new to the city, lost, confused, having spent so many years using exercise as a way to purge. After a few months, I notice a change. They are more confident, more assertive, more liberated, more willing to laugh at themselves.
Was there a moment when you felt like you’d “made it?” Or at least that you were truly onto something?
It was about 6 months into the business. I was walking around New York and I bumped into someone who took class. And I thought: holy cow! In this big city of 10 million people, what are the chances that I’ve grown the business enough to actually run into a client? That’s sort of silly — today that happens every day, if not multiple times a day. I’ve learned New York is, indeed, a very small place. But at the time, I had never lived in New York. I was 22. I was lost as ever. NYC was kicking my ass every day. It felt like a sign of good fortune.
“Put your career first now. Your 20s and 30s are your time to work your ass off.”
What are the best and hardest parts about owning your own business?
The best part? Too many to name. I get to create my own schedule. I am excited about everything we do. No day is the same. I love the people I work with. I’m creating meaning. I’m promoting wellness, feminism, and spreading joy.
The toughest part is the uncertainty. Part of being a good entrepreneur is being able to compartmentalize all the what if’s from the real down-n-dirty reality of the shit that needs to get done.
To what do you attribute your success thus far?
I am a relentless executor. I don’t quit. And I have a kick-ass team that keeps me honest, organized, and feeling supported.
What have been your most successful marketing outlets/endeavors/strategies?
Word of mouth. People don’t trust ads. They don’t trust media. They trust their friends. If we can deliver on a great experience, we know clients will become so obsessed, they won’t just return, they will return with 10 friends in tow.
What is your dream project?
Honestly, exactly what I’m working on!
Where do you see your business in 3-5 years?
We’ll grow to more cities and more studios. We’re working on building more in NYC this year. Next city is most likely Chicago. Get excited! If you want to stay up to date with 305 and where we’re headed next (plus! free DJ mixes), check out: http://305fitness.com/stay-connected
“Don’t start a business unless you are really, really, really f*cking serious about it.”
Based on your experience, what advice would you offer other young, female entrepreneurs?
Two pieces of advice:
- Be relentless about prioritizing your career. You don’t need to get married. You really, really don’t need to get married before 30. You can freeze your eggs. You can adopt. I get a lot of “work-life balance” questions. I don’t think men ask each other the same question. Put your career first now. Your 20s and 30s are your time to work your ass off.
- Don’t start a business unless you are really, really, really f*cking serious about it. You will be plagued with self-doubt. You may have panic attacks. People will ask you tough questions. You may run out of money. You’ll have many difficult conversations. It’s not easy. So make sure you are really clear that this is what you want to do, no excuses, no hesitation.
If you enjoyed this story, check out interviews with our other kickass Neon-trepreneurs here.
If you want more insight from Sadie, feel free to check out this great video interview from Besties in Business where Sadie dives further into her experience as an entrepreneur, the evolution of 305, and more top-notch advice for fellow entrepreneurs.
peace, love & neon,
< photos c/o sadie kurzban and 305 fitness >