In people pleaser recovery we learn that what we must ultimately do is the work of knowing what is in our heart, what makes us sing, and what we want. I learned from Jeffrey Marsh that we do not need to be “nice” (doing what other people think we “should” or saying what they want to hear), but we can be kind. We can kindly say, “Hey, this isn’t right for me right now.” And we can be kind to ourselves and let go of the need for other’s approval.
A little over six weeks ago I was on the phone with Jes Baker. She has been doing some incredible graphic design work for me in exchange for distance Reiki treatments and she had a question we needed to ask my friend Bridget about. Bridget is a strategic coach and has been helping me get a handle on pursuing my goals for Fat Kid Dance Party Aerobics and building my dream company.
Bridget patched the three of us into a conference call and I had an epiphany. Listening to these brilliant women talk about creating a Fat Kid Dance Party style guide I realized that I was no longer just teaching an aerobics class. I was now, for real, running a start-up.
Bridget and I are celebrating a decade of friendship, with deep roots in Femme organizing. Bridget is modeling the Fat Kid Dance Party tee shirt which was months of work and many many logistics to make happen. She’s wearing the specially designed for plus size bodies version of the shirt I have for in person sales before I launch the website. A unisex version of the shirt is available now through Genuine Valentine.
To be honest I still had no idea what a style guide was until earlier this week when Bridget and I were doing a “Power 2.5 Hours” at her dining room table in Minneapolis. She showed me the Fat Kid Dance Party Style Guide developed by her, Jes and Michelle who is designing the website and explained why I might want to send a copy to Jamie, the tee shirt designer who is designing the water bottle.
Moving to LA has been a baptism in new industry language. LA is a company town, I have learned all this film and TV lingo just by hanging out with my friends, many of whom work in showbiz.
It’s not nearly like the Bay Area, but LA also has a start-up culture, which has its own language. Have you ever heard of a Pitch Deck? I hadn’t until December. Basically when you are running a start-up it’s the place where you synthesize your idea. I’ve heard of it in the form of a word doc (that’s just a “deck” if I’m understanding correctly what my friend Farhad explained) and a Pitch Deck is in powerpoint, meant to show investors.
Going on tour means reuniting and hanging with many of my friends in far-off places. Like Drew, who I hadn’t seen since like 2010, who I got to stay with in PDX! Drew is a great chef, if you need an incredible caterer in PDX get in touch with him! Photo by Summer.
I turned another corner in the work of creating Fat Kid Dance Party as a start-up company when I was talking to a friend and advisor of mine. She’s one of Dara’s besties and she’s working on a start-up of her own that is much further along than mine. She has been so kind to offer me advice on building FKDP up since the PopSugar video went viral.
When she offered me money to be an on the ground investor in Fat Kid Dance Party and told me she thought I had a wildly successful company I was floored!
I believe in my heart that FKDP is a wildly successful company. I also work really hard to not need external validation for my worth or to believe in my ideas. However, when someone you respect, admire, and know to be a no bullshit person says to you what you already believe in your heart, it really helps to buoy confidence.
In that conversation she told me at the end of every meeting or phone call I should ask people for help with specific things. Since it’s my Year of Ask, this is a great practice for me and has me getting more strategic.
Another great Portland tour picture by Summer of Fat Girls Hiking.
I had a meeting with a collaborator I’m working with and asked when we parted ways if she knew any social impact investment folks who want to change the world with me. She said she knew someone at a fund that only invests in women, LGBT, and POC founders and if she ran into him she would suggest a connection. Wouldn’t you know she just happened to run into him immediately upon returning to her office?
I had an incredible meeting with this contact and he gave me such valuable insight into what I need to be watching out for in this stage of my growth.
He encouraged me to apply to their fund but to know that it wasn’t a slam dunk. We would get feedback on our pitch deck. He said I should mostly be focusing on “boot strap capital” which I immediately corrected to “bra strap capital” because that’s just more my style. It’s also a nod to Jeanne Bice, the creator of Quacker Factory and the inspiration behind me wanting my own line on QVC. I really think I could sell Fat Kid Dance Party videos on QVC, don’t you?
Bra Strap Capital, as I understand it and kind of am making up, is the idea that I just get scrappy and make things work. It’s a kind of pounding the pavement method that these days usually involves a bit of crowd funding and however you can make money and put it back into the business.
Photo by Summer.
It is important for me to shout out that I have a bunch of investors already since I successfully funded my first workout video series! So if you bought a workout video I consider you an investor! (I’m in production and am very excited—we film April 26 or 27th!!)
To promote more pre-sales of the workout videos I’ve started a tour of Fat Kid Dance Party. Introducing it to new markets and making enough to cover travel and my time, and mostly only going places where I have loved ones to visit or markets that are ready for body positive dance aerobics. Portland was really good to me—I sold out my first class and nearly sold out the bonus class I added. Selling out my first tour date in Portland made me feel like Taylor Swift.
Dara told me to not worry about paying rent right now so I could hire a personal assistant a few hours a week to help me build the business. I’m still conference calling with Bridget and Jes all the time and am about to start having staff meetings.
Bridget, Jes and Dara put together the most gorgeous Pitch Deck to submit for feedback from that investment firm. I’m going to send it to some angel investors for funding another round of PR from my PR firm (which costs about $4,000 for a one month campaign and I’m hoping to hit the tipping point with bra strap capital to pay for more campaigns but until then I need investment to make it happen).
Since Fat Kid Dance Party is a company that creates containers for self care, I have to be hella mindful of my own self care. Start-up culture is the antithesis of self care. These days I’m really “in it” about my work—I am on my phone constantly moving pieces around. My to do lists have to do lists. Having people to delegate to only works if you do the work to tell them what you need them to do!
Last week I started feeling burnt out because of the start-up pace of my life. I’m so proud of myself for recognizing the signs I needed to take a break, focus on my immune system and work less so I could stay resilient to continue the bra strapping at a more sustainable pace. After taking two half days, I feel so much better and excited about working! I have so much gratitude for having a venture I am soooo passionate about. What a gift!
If you want to help me out, here are some great ways:
If I’m touring to a city near you, please buy tickets right away for my tour stops since they help cover costs like air travel up front!
If you’re in LA please come to my classes at The Plus Bus! I keep 100% of ticket sales from those classes and it helps me pay my assistant to help me increase my capacity! If Wednesday nights don’t work for you I’ll also be teaching Saturdays around town when I’m in LA, so keep an eye on the Instagram for announcements.
Sign up for my email list! I am delivering some great self care content! During that 2.5 Power Hour we designed an amazing email flow!
Me and Jes Baker at the first of my tour stops, at the incredible Curves in Bloom in Seattle February 24th. Photo by Beth Olson.