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Small Business Spotlight

Small Business Spotlight: FitStyle Grace

Kabbage spoke with small business owner Grace Albin of @fitstylegrace on where she started, how far she’s come and how she’s achieved success. Grace began her entrepreneurial journey in January 2017. In six months, she has grown her Instagram following to over 20,000 followers! She also helps nearby businesses, using her platform to help her local animal shelters. 

How did you start your Instagram page?

I had always taught fitness classes and Pilates classes. I started in college and really liked it, and then a few years ago and got married to a pilot. We’re always traveling, and I stopped teaching … and really missed it. Plus, it was hard to exercise while I was on the road. I started doing YouTube exercise videos. Just recently, in January, I thought, “You know what? I’m just going to start teaching online.” I started this Instagram page with workout instructions and things on it, and it’s grown. It actually just got to 20,000 people this past weekend. The goal of the business is to actually have sponsored posts and not just having a barter situation. It’s still in an early stage. I really love it.

What made you realize this is what you wanted to invest yourself in?

I really missed a lot of things. First of all, I definitely missed teaching. There’s some creativity in it as far as choreographing routines. I liked that it gives you the structure of exercising and reasons to keep up certifications and stuff like that. I like the industry’s atmosphere. It tends to be more women and more supportive, friendly and positive. Obviously, I missed having my own business. I missed working, I missed fitness – I missed all of it.

“I learned that I should just do what I’ve always done and what I like doing … you can’t be good at something if you don’t enjoy it.” 

Do you give back to your local community in any way?

I’ve always volunteered at the humane society. I do a thing called fostering: where when [the shelter] gets nursing puppies, they get people in the community, like me, … to take them home and foster them. Sometimes I’ll take the puppies and use them as little hand weights or something, and then I’ll mention, “Hey, by the way – these guys are up for adoption!” Or I’ll do another that’s an [Instagram] story where it’s a video of the mom and the puppies. I’ll say, “Hey, if you’re in the Miami area, this is a really loving two-year old mama dog, who is going to be available and so will her puppies.”

Have there been any obstacles you’ve faced since you started your small business?

At the very beginning, I hired a photographer cause I thought of bloggers as people who post pictures. So, I hired a photographer and did these photoshoots at places in Miami in active wear and workout clothes. But it’s expensive, and I didn’t enjoy doing it at all. It didn’t really grow my following at all the way that some fashion bloggers do. I learned about myself: I’m not a model. I’m not comfortable with it. I don’t like it. People don’t like it cause I’m not good at it. I learned that I should just do what I’ve always done and what I like doing, which is doing exercise routines. I learned that you can’t be good at something if you don’t enjoy it – and it worked out better that way. With the videos, I can do it myself by propping up a camera. I don’t have to invest in a photographer, and, ironically, that’s really when my following starting growing – when I started doing the videos myself.

Was there anyone in particular who created a huge impact in helping you and your small business get to where it is today?

My husband and my sister because they are both successful business owners, and they both had confidence in it. They had this attitude of, “Of course it’s going to succeed! Why wouldn’t it succeed?” The fact that people I respect, who I find to be very smart, accomplished people, saying that to me made an enormous amount of difference. I do think it’s good to keep yourself around positive people who give you confidence.

What advice would you give to someone just starting their business?

Don’t try to force a square peg into a round hole. If you do what you love, I think your chances of succeeding at it financially are higher. Also, don’t be intimidated by things you don’t love. To some degree, we all have to learn how to be good at those in order to do the things we love successfully.

“I don’t like the concept of promoting the thought that only skinny is healthy when it’s not. People can be healthy and happy at different weights.” 

If you were starting your business over today, what is one thing you would have done differently?

I wouldn’t have waited on the sidelines for so long. I thought about it for years, and I really followed and admired other fitness bloggers and thought for whatever reason that I wouldn’t be able to compete. And that, by far, is my biggest regret: that I didn’t start sooner.

Do you have one particularly popular post among your followers?

There was one a month ago that got over 100,000 views, and I got a huge bump in following when that one became popular. I used to teach barre classes, and I just went to my kitchen counter and used it as a bar. I did plies with it and things like that, and immediately after I posted it, all of these likes and followers came along. Workouts with no equipment at all, when you use body weight, do seem to be more popular. It seems like there’s broader audience because some people have one piece of equipment and not the other, or they have no equipment at all.

How do you see your small business growing or changing in the future?

I really hope that as long as the followers and engagement keep increasing that it gets more sponsorship, especially from active wear brands (like yoga pants and sneakers). That’s what I wear every day. That’s what my closet is filled with. It’s really what I love, so I hope that it’s an industry that becomes interested in sponsoring [my blog].

What are the biggest struggles of your industry?

A lot of fitness bloggers end up selling their own line of products. Some of them get into supplements and things I’m not comfortable with. I don’t think you should sell supplements unless you’re truly licensed as a dietician or nutritionist. The fitness business is mostly positive and encouraging, and they know that all shapes and sizes can be healthy. But there’s this other side that is kind of a “get it quick” scheme. It’s gadgets, supplements and advertisements that promote skinniness in unhealthy ways. There’s so many things wrong with that: wasting people’s money, risking people’s health, and I don’t like the concept of promoting the thought that only skinny is healthy when it’s not. People can be healthy and happy at different weights.

Grace Albin is a Miami-based fitness blogger. Her social channel, @fitstylegrace, has garnered over 20,000 followers since she began her business in January 2017. She is currently working with a website designer to create a blog. 

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Constantina Kokenes

Constantina is an SEO Specialist at Kabbage, a small business loans provider. She holds a Master’s degree from Northwestern University, where she learned how to create content that could best be organically shared. When not in the marketing world, Constantina enjoys strategy games and singing along to the Law & Order: SVU theme song.