We recently connected with Jax Spencer and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Jax thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. The first dollar your business earns is always special and we’d love to hear how your brand made its first dollar of revenue.
I am a self-taught pole dancer for the last 15 years. I started in a club with no prior background, experience or dance knowledge (let alone in heels!) I didn’t know how to dance. I was terrified of being on stage/in front of the general public. I was lost in seven inch heels. Watching the stage while women twirled, strutted, slinked and climbed a 16′ pole was magical and I couldn’t do any of that. I could roll around on the floor and that’s where it all began. Building the fundamentals low on the ground and attempting to lift myself up to spin was comical at best. I was not in shape; over 210lbs, no diet, cardio was only when I was running late and I was lacking in the confidence department. I worked 4-6 nights a week on top of my muggle full-time job and every night practiced the few things I could make my body do and imitate the other girls. I started to go in as early as possible (mainly because the cheaper tip out) and since Happy Hour was a watering hole for bar flies and regulars – I decided to practice. Every. Day. I referenced the 4 YouTube videos that existed ranging from beginner to how the heck do you do those type moves and drew stick figures in a notebook to join me at work. I tried new moves, I got stronger, my body started to transform and the pole got a lot more fun! By then, I started to venture out to different clubs and try my heels at new clients and atmospheres. I had the opportunity to bounce around and make friends in each location. Every time I would bounce back to a familiar club – a dancer or two would see me on stage and recognize me. Usually a catch-up conversation in the dressing room turned into them excitedly asking “How did you get so good?”, “You look SO good – did you lose weight?” and “OH MY GOD – SHOW ME how you do the pole. I”LL PAY YOU.” There it was. Those key words. The light bulb. The next day I made a very loose curriculum based off how I started. Floor movements, dancing with your feet on the ground and basic spins and climbing – which is how everything else follows. I told the other dancers for those who had been asking that I could show them out of my house (where my pole situated in my living room was) and they could make an appointment to take basic lessons off my new curriculum. I exchanged numbers with a few girls and a day later – one texted asking my availability and how much an hour was. That was my first client in 2009.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
My studio offers group classes, private lessons and private parties. We have a colorful staff with different styles, education and background. We have a class for everyone, everyBODY and every style. What’s your workout? Dancing sexy in heels? Pole Burpees (yes – those are a thing)? Floor flow? Pole tricks like you see in the movies and the clubs? Maybe you don’t like the pole and want an acro Chair class or a steamy Lap Dance class. There is something for anyone who walks in the door! Folks don’t just come for the sweaty class but also the community and their mental health. We have ‘Therapole’ which is cheaper than therapy! That 1 hour class is their happy place. Safe place. 2nd home. They see their friends and cheer on each others progress. It’s the outlet at the end of the day and the fun exercise you can’t find in a regular gym setting. It’s love at first spin.
How’d you meet your business partner?
I had been teaching out of my apartment for a while and was looking to expand to a proper brick and mortar building in a commercial spot. I had been scouting locations and thinking of talking to the bank. I knew I needed a backer or partner and had been vocal to all my students that I was on the search. One of my students at the time mentioned her boyfriend wanting to get his hands in something as an investor. I doubt he knew what would be in store for him these days but so many years ago we set up a meeting. I had a terribly written business plan as I had no idea what should be in it and he read it. Unimpressed, Since my student was SO obsessed with her new hobby – she could’t stand the thought of me quitting and not having a safe space. She begged him to have an in person consult so I could passionately state my case. I had answers to all his questions, my eyes lit up when we talked about a bright future and he saw how committed I was to move forward. Still skeptical – he asked how I was so sure if we opened that I could maintain it and that he’d see his money back. “If you build it, the will come.” Literally – I said that. He laughed, shrugged and we shook hands. Put ‘er there, partner!
Can you tell us about a time you’ve had to pivot?
You all remember 2020, right?! Who saw a pandemic on the horizon?! I’m so glad the studio had been opened for 6 years at that point and was maintaining a steady revenue and profit. We heard through the community grapevine that studios were moving to online classes and that in person social distancing was near. Our community wanted to survive so we shared information on how to evolve with the new ways of teaching. Online platforms, new curriculum, different marketing strategies, how to get loans and more. It wasn’t the same but it was – something. We changed tactics and rolled with the punches until we could re-open. Things were still different though. No overlap of classes. Cleaning – SO much cleaning. Masks. Limited spotting and human interaction. I found new ways to teach without touching or being in the same room. I was so cautious to keep every student and staff member safe. We enlisted new protocols, cleaning regiments and discounted classes due to the limited space and funds our demographic had during quarantine. It was an experience one can never prep for. The curve ball was so severe but taking it one day at a time and seeing the end of the road was in sight kept our spirits alive and our pole spinning.
- Website: www.jaxspencer.com & www.thepoleacademy.com
- Instagram: @jaxpole & @thepoleacademy
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/thepoleacademy
- Twitter: @thepoleacademy
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/JaxSpencer
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-pole-academy-greenville-2?osq=the+pole+academy
- Other: TikTok: @jaxpole & @thepoleacademy
Don Curry Photography