We are adding a new feature to our blog called Get Inspired!
Prince Albert is home to some pretty incredible businesses and business owners. Not all businesses get their start at Community Futures but they all deserve to be recognized and we can all learn something from the lessons they have learned and the motivation behind the companies is an inspiration to our business community.
Our first Get Inspired! feature is The S2dio. Desiree is one of the local businesses that did get their start with Community Futures. She is a force to be reckoned with. Here is your opportunity to learn a little bit more about how she got her start, found her way and continues to see growth and success.
1. What has been the largest learning curve for you in your business?
Patience. 100%. I am the most impatient person in the world and believe that if you want something done, you gotta do it yourself. Since opening in 2018, I have learned that you cannot force anything and there will be daily situations to which I have no control over. Having to take a step back and take a breath and dig into my patience has certainly been a huge learning curve for me. During covid, when I was in zero control of daily operations, I really learned how to just go with the flow and adapt quickly. Expectations were always upheld, but execution of these expectations changed almost daily for a while.
Being a leader of 13 people during the two years of covid brought a whole other dynamic of being able to balance myself and my team and my community. I would have never survived, as well as I did, without the 13 amazing humans behind me. They were supportive and stepped up to the plate for things that I never thought a staffing team would have to do. Without them, and our amazing community of riders, I would have definitely been broken. They taught me to ask for help and they proved to me that I can lean on them not only in the best of times, but the worst of times as well.
I have no formal schooling or training in business, I was a correctional officer before taking this leap into business, so learning curves have been non stop since day one, but I can truly say, living and learning on my own terms has been absolutely incredible. Not being bound by anyone else's idea of how business should be ran, has allowed me to make mistakes, learn from them and push forward.
2. How do you measure (personally define) success?
I believe that success is different for everyone and can change several times over someone's lifetime. For me, success is based on stability and genuine happiness.
Most people's first instinct when it comes to defining success is wealth and status but that in itself doesn’t bring joy, passion and happiness. I was in a career where I could have easily made 6 figures a year and had all the toys and very minimal debt. I chose to leave that, open a business, take on more debt then I know what to do with and pursue a passion. I can wholeheartedly say, I have never had less money and more genuine happiness in my life. Being able to put your entire heart and soul into something and see it grow and influence others around me, now that, that is true success.
Now success doesn’t come without its stresses and curveballs. I am now working 100 times more and harder than I ever have and I still would not trade what I have now for what I had 5 years ago. The S2DIO was only open for approximately 18 months before we faced the biggest hurdle I think we will ever face - covid shut downs. I had a choice to make, let covid take over and crush my dream right in front of me, or get up and grind and push and adapt and make things work. As you know, I chose the latter.
I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, a husband who loves and supports me unconditionally, a team of leaders who encourages our growth and a heart and soul that is fuller than I can even explain. So do I believe I am successful? 100% without an ounce of doubt in my bones.
3. What do you think is the secret of excellent client service?
Our clients are our everything. Without them - The S2DIO would be nothing. Treating every single person who walks through our door equally is the most important value I hold. We truly do not care who you are, where you came from or where you’re going, and you certainly do not have “to be someone” to walk through our doors. I make it a mission to know every client by name and ensure that they feel welcomed.
I am genuinely me when it comes to customer service. There is no façade or disingenuous attitudes at The S2DIO. We encourage our clients to be whole heartedly themselves and come as they are, and that is how I train and mentor my staff to be as well. The S2DIO is the safest space in Prince Albert to come in and work on your health and fitness, both mentally and physically. The power that building holds is absolutely incredible and truly cannot be explained, but rather felt and experienced.
We’re not for everyone and nor would we pretend we are. We encourage everyone to come give us a try, but understand that when choosing a fitness community to join, it comes down to personal values, wants and desires. If you are not going to join us, that is totally fine. We encourage everyone to find their people and get moving wherever they see fit for themselves.
4. How does your business give back to the community?
Over the last four years, we have been able to give back to the community of Prince Albert in several different ways. We host “CLIP FOR A CAUSE” rides where it is only $10 to drop into a specific spin class, and the entire $10 gets donated to the cause. Clips for a cause fundraisers we have done include but are not limited to: Ovarian Cancer, Prince Albert Bears, Special Olympics, Prince Albert Pride, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Jenkins family, Wilkinson Family, local ladies affected by breast cancer, Mental Health Canada, Children's hospital, Relay the Life, etc. etc., just to name a few.
Being able to give back to organizations or individuals in the community is what really drives us forward. The first thing I thought when we were shut down by government mandates was, “I can’t afford to give back now”. It broke my heart and soul more than anything. Now that we are back up and running, we are hosting our clip for a cause again and it is incredible!
In the last four years, we have given approx. $25,000 back into the above mentioned organizations and local people. I have said since day one, “we are just getting started” and I truly mean it! We have some incredible things planned for fall of 2022 and beyond.
5. Is there any popular entrepreneurial advice that you agree/disagree with? Why?
The biggest thing I've learned in my journey through entrepreneurship is - it is extremely dynamic and one's ability to adapt to the ever changing world is crucial. I don’t think any “entrepreneurial advice” needs to be disagreed with. Just because one entrepreneur does something one way, does not mean everyone needs to do it that way; this is the beautiful thing about business ownership. As mentioned above, I have zero schooling or training when it comes to owning and running a business. There are benefits to both sides of the coin, receiving formal training or not, and to say one is better than the other would be foolish. Personally, I am an extremely motivated and hands-on learner, so learning from my mistakes is everything to me. I am not bound by how things “are supposed to be done” or anyone else's idea of how a spin studio should be. If there is something I want to try then I try it. If it is successful, then we do it again, if it isn’t, then I take a step back, evaluate why it didn't work and either adapt and try again, or move onto another idea.
I truly believe that all business owners should collaborate and exchange ideas on a consistent basis; I wholeheartedly believe community over competition wins every time! This is not to say that competing businesses need to be best of friends by any stretch either, but having a mutual understanding and genuine respect that we’re all out here just trying to make a difference in people's lives should be understood. Agreeing to disagree, as I always say, would solve a lot of the world's problems.
6. How are you taking care of your mental health?
The S2DIO was born out of a pursuit and passion for maintaining my own mental health. As I always say, focus on your mental health, and physical health will follow. I was a correctional officer for almost six years prior to opening a business. I began instructing spin in Saskatoon, at a local spin studio, while working at Saskatoon Correctional Center. Lifecycle Spin Studio became my safe space, my outlet, my support, my place where I could sweat away all life’s BS and just let go for 45 minutes. When we moved to Prince Albert, I was still commuting to Saskatoon to teach because my passion lies with that bike. After a couple months, and many sleepless nights wondering if a spin studio would fly in Prince Albert, I took a leap of faith and bought bikes and thus the pursuit began.
Fitness was never about the physical part for me, that came after. In Prince Albert, we have a large number of first responders in our community. I vowed to create a space where everyone, but especially first responders, could come and focus on themselves and get that stress release and endorphin push they need. Again, this is not to say we only promote mental health for these first responders, but with my experience in the industry, I understand what these humans need and how crucial it is for them to find a positive outlet.
Again, my team and my husband hold me accountable to take care of myself. I am the first to admit that I push to mentor and care for everyone around me first and me second. I have learned to find the balance between caring for my clients and caring for myself. My team kicks me out of the building any chance they can and tells me to go home because “they got it”. Now if that isn’t an amazing team - I don’t know what is. Life is about learning and finding that balance, and I am far from perfect, but I understand the dynamic nature of it all and we are all there for our clients when they need it.
There have been countless conversations, before and after our classes, with our clients where they just need to talk or vent or cry or scream. Fitness is a powerful experience that is equally mental as it is physical. Our spin room has soaked in laughs, tears, sweat, smiles, screams and more emotions than you would ever think over the last four years. I cannot wait to see what the next four years brings.
7. Who do you look to for guidance and mentorship?
I am very lucky to have a dad who was an entrepreneur for many years in Saskatoon. He has been able to help guide me through several things along the way. Dad owned Fandango Lighthouse for many years but recently sold and retired in 2017. Now, selling lighting and home décor is a far stretch from selling fitness, but behind the scenes when it comes to maintenance in banking and bookkeeping, he has been an incredible ally on my side. When I need to bounce ideas off of a like minded person, it is very easy for me to call and ask for his opinion. He will always play devil's advocate, and many times has been able to show me another perspective in a situation that maybe I did not think of. We laugh together often about how different business is in 2022 then years ago. He is always mind blown at the use of social media and what an important tool it is these days. “We never had that back in my day” is a phrase I've heard a few times.
Most of the time, I articulate and internalize my next move on my own. I find making decisions without others' external opinions is the best way to go. Saying that, I do not know it at all, in fact far from it. When it comes to things like schedule, merchandise design, events, etc., I will usually narrow down my thoughts to a few ideas and then approach my husband and team for their input. This always leads me to see things from others point of views. From there, I can take everyone's thoughts and opinions, combine it with my own and come to a decision. Sometimes I stick with my gut and go with my original plans and sometimes I use my team's ideas and move forward. A true leader inspires and listens to their staff and genuinely cares about everyone's successes, so how in the world could not look to my amazing team for advice.
When it comes to branding new merchandise and designing new clothes for our athletic wear line, my husband says, “whatever you love, do the opposite, whatever you hate, double the order”. Quite frankly, he has proven to be right with this statement. This is when listening to my team comes into play. They always offer insight and ideas when it comes to style and design.
8. What book should every business owner read?
Whatever books they want. Anyone can read any book or listen to a million podcasts, but if you're not going to read and listen with an open mind, your comprehension of what you're consuming is moot.
I do not read any business books. I am not much of a reader overall and prefer to learn and grow from doing and hands on experiences. If I am going to read, it is always going to be to learn and advance any certification that I have. I am constantly looking to expand my knowledge when it comes to services I can offer. This is a personal preference for me.
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