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Off the back of her virtual class at our recent All Stars Homegrown event, we talked to Emma Seibold, Founder of Barre Body, about growing a successful fitness brand in a highly competitive industry, facing COVID-19 and her biggest lessons in business.
Can you tell us about Barre Body, and what inspired you to create it?
Barre Body is my greatest passion (outside my family) and has been for the past eight and a half years. What started as an opportune business idea to bring barre to Australia has grown into the behemoth it is today, with nine studios in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Byron Bay, Barre Body Online (our video on-demand platform with over 200 streaming classes), and a huge teacher training business in barre, Pilates mat and Pilates reformer.
My early inspiration was a career that would give me freedom and flexibility (pun intended) as a new mother, as well as a platform to further express my marketing and business background. Barre Body has been all of those things and so, so much more.
We opened the first studio when my son was just six months old (having the initial idea when he was three months old, giving you an idea of how fast we moved) and we’ve never looked back. I love the workout, the brand, the clients, the team, the growth potential, the challenge, everything!
The Business Chicks team are loving our online Barre Body classes. How has the transition to an online business been for you?
It’s been pretty seamless. We are very fortunate that we already had a thriving online platform and this shutdown has just meant redirecting our studio resources online. It’s been enormously challenging emotionally and logistically, but also wildly exciting for us.
You offer a comprehensive teacher training program, how did this come to life?
We are so passionate about delivering high calibre studio classes in barre and Pilates and have such a wealth of experience that it felt natural to expand that expertise into teacher training five years ago. We’ve invested enormously in the best people, the best research and development, and the best platforms to deliver our programs on, and I really can say that we are the best in the industry. In 2018 we applied all of those learnings to the online universe to also deliver our training programs online, bringing the best of the in-person teacher training experience to live in our increasingly digital world.
How important has the role of mentorship been for you?
Interestingly, I’ve never had a mentor. I’ve always felt my way quite intuitively in business and I’m very proud of what we have achieved. My hubby and I have some pretty specific goals for the business over the next couple of years, and so we recently started working with a business coach over the past couple of months. He’s been great to help us see a different perspective and get more focused on the outcomes we want.
Giving mentorship on the other hand is such a privilege. I love to support my team and other business owners (friends mostly and on an ad-hoc basis) to help define and reach their goals – it feels like an honour.
What are the qualities you bring as a leader?
I am very much heart-based. I make all of my decisions from a place of love (as opposed to fear), and I strive to empower and excite my team to drive the business forward with their own sense of ownership and passion. I am passionate about creating a place to work that is inspiring, fun and challenging. With those qualities, a team can do almost anything. I’ve also strived to create the kind of workplace that I would like to work in and be the kind of leader that I would like to work for.
What have been your biggest learnings since setting up Barre Body?
Oh gosh, how long do you have? Off the top of my head:
- Invest in a good lawyer and bookkeeper
- Trademark your brand
- Hire people who share your values and vision
- Be generous!
- Lead with love
- Take ownership of mistakes, learn from them, and find the opportunity
- Don’t be threatened by competitors (refer answer above)
- Give back to the community even when it feels like you can’t afford to
- Take rest!
You’ve been in business for over eight years. How do you handle competitors in the fitness industry?
Competitors come and go and the key is to stay focussed on what you are doing and what you can do better as a brand, team and business, rather than worrying about what competitors are doing. Channel your energy around competitors into motivation to do better and innovate, rather than having them as a focal point for worry and decisions.
You’ve got two young kids and run nine studios across three states – what do you do to relax and unwind?
I read a lot. I listen to audiobooks and read books all the time. I probably read at least a book a week and tend to alternate between “fun” books and “learning” books. I also meditate daily and this has been a saviour to me. I’m also pretty strict about when I work and when I don’t work. Weekends are for family and I’ve banned our team from communicating on the weekends about work. It works for me to have a break and then I’m refreshed and ready to go on Mondays.
What are you most excited about right now?
The future! We have so much momentum on the online space with our online teacher training programs and Barre Body Online that I really feel we are going to fly over the next few months. It’s very energising and exciting.
And finally, what would you to say to someone who’s curious about trying Barre Body for the first time?
Do it, do it, do it! You won’t regret it. It’s so much fun and so varied. The most overwhelmingly common piece of feedback that I hear from new clients is that they’ve never found an exercise program they could enjoy and stick to, until they tried Barre Body. It’s addictive and the physical and mental results will speak for themselves.
Get your 14 day trial and access of hundreds of classes on demand at Barre Body Online (the Business Chicks team are loving it!)