Philesia Manuel didn’t take a typical route to become a business owner—but then again, nothing about her business follows the traditional fitness studio model.
Philesia’s studio, Romance and Dance, started in 2008 after she planned a bachelorette trip to Las Vegas and rented a pole dance facility for the event. It was love at first dance, and when she returned to Los Angeles, Philesia told her husband, Robert, that she wanted a pole of her own.
He built her a pole, and Philesia invited her friends over to try it. Soon, they invited their friends. About the same time, Robert was laid off from work, and instead of panicking about finances, Phee suggested they build a pole studio in their garage. Romance and Dance was born.
The Sexy, New Way to Get in Shape
One of the main challenges that Philesia had to overcome when opening her studio was explaining what pole fitness was—and wasn’t. She found herself saying that pole fitness is a “sexy, new way to get in shape” so frequently that it became the slogan of the studio.
Over time, the workout became popular enough that Philesia was able to open a studio and over the years, continued to grow. Romance and Dance now has three different locations spread throughout the Los Angeles metro area.
The Queen of Branding
Much of Romance and Dance’s success has come from the Manuels’ marketing prowess. They custom brand their own clothing, wrap their cars with the business’s logo, and hire all of their employees from within their pool of customers, ensuring all of their teachers have the same value and passion for the studio as they do.
Romance and Dance also takes advantage of a branded mobile app through Mindbody, keeping their brand on their customers’ phones as well as allowing the studio to send push notifications to their customers.
When Social Media Goes Bust
Another piece of Romance and Dance’s marketing strategy was social media—until their Instagram account with 50,000 followers was unexpectedly shut down in 2018. After losing their account, the Manuels had to figure out a new marketing strategy and landed on email as their primary focus.
Their efforts paid off—in December of 2018, they launched a holiday sales initiative to increase revenue during their slow season. They sent an email to their customers, offering $5 classes between 12 AM and 6 AM, and slightly increasing the cost by one dollar at regular intervals throughout the rest of the day. That single email and campaign earned Romance and Dance $40,000 in revenue in just 24 hours, carrying the business through the holidays in the black.