Ashley, a former Chicago marathon runner, is opening her second studio near her home town Pure Barre Willowbrook! Read her story to find out how she has meshed her business and health background into a rewarding career.
Pure Barre: When did you first fall in love with Pure Barre?
Ashley: I fell in love with barre about five years ago right after completing the Chicago marathon. I was completely worn out with running, which had been my primary form of exercise up to that point, and was looking for a change. I loved the transformative effects of the class, as well as the mental clarity I felt afterwards. Pure Barre came to Chicago a few years after I discovered the barre technique, and I fell in love after my first class at Pure Barre River North. I loved how musically driven the technique was and how every part of my body was fatigued after class. Studio owners Emily and Shelbye have created such a great community that I was hooked from the beginning.
Pure Barre: What inspired you to open your own studio?
Ashley: The idea to open a Pure Barre came to me the fall of my second year of business school. This was a completely novel idea at the time, because I had originally thought I would pursue either a post-MBA rotational program or a human capital consulting job following school. I was actually in the midst of the crazy recruitment period when the thought came to me and I began discussing it with my husband. I had been taking Pure Barre classes religiously throughout school, and found that my 55 minutes in class was quickly becoming my favorite time of day. When I realized I could incorporate this passion for barre into my career path, I became more and more excited about the opportunity!
Pure Barre: Tell us about your professional background.
Ashley: I went to college at Bucknell and studied Sociology and Psychology. I then received my Master of Business Administration degree from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management a few years later.
Prior to opening my first studio, Pure Barre Chicago Lincoln Park, I was the Director of Account Management at a corporate wellness company. My time there gave me great experience managing a team, creating/monitoring a budget, and building client relationships in the Lincoln Park area.
Pure Barre: What is the most surprising challenge about becoming an entrepreneur that people might not consider?
Ashley: It is often difficult to make the initial leap into starting your own venture. When it is all hypothetical and in the concept phase, it is very exciting, but fear can certainly creep in once everything is put in motion. I actually started to receive job offers right as I was finalizing my decision to open a Pure Barre studio. I will admit that it was sometimes difficult to turn down a steady paycheck and take a chance on my own venture but it was definitely worth it. You need to recognize that it is somewhat of a high-risk, high-reward situation and be willing to take that risk. The good news is that I can confidently say that I think it has paid off in the end.
Pure Barre: What is special about the Pure Barre community of owners?
Ashley: The Pure Barre owner community is made up of amazingly driven and health-minded individuals who support and encourage one another. Owners are always willing to help answer questions, provide each other resources, share best practices etc. and I believe this makes our community truly unique. We all love the Pure Barre technique and want to make sure that the Pure Barre experience is universally great all around the country (and soon Canada!)
Pure Barre: How has the Pure Barre corporate team supported you thus far?
Ashley: I can honestly say that the corporate team does a brilliant job balancing their responsibility to provide resources and information to their franchisees without being overbearing. As a studio owner, we are able to make our own decisions about pricing, scheduling and hiring -which allows you the feeling of autonomy you seek when embarking on a more entrepreneurial route while still having the security of knowing the company is behind you. The corporate team is quick to respond to any question or concern I have as an owner, which is always much appreciated. I l also love that they are constantly working to develop the technique and improve the Pure Barre experience nationwide.
Learn more about Ashley and her passion for Willowbrook!
Pure Barre: What is your favorite breakfast/lunch spot in Willowbrook?
Ashley: Growing just outside Willlowbrook, we always went to Paige’s, the cute little diner right downtown. You always see someone you recognize when you go in there, which makes it both a delicious meal and somewhat of a social outing.
Pure Barre: What community activities are you involved in?
Ashley: I have been very involved in the Hinsdale community ever since I was young. I was born and raised there and have remained involved throughout my adult life. My marathon training was primarily out in Hinsdale and I got to know everyone in my running groups very well. My husband and I are junior members of the Hinsdale Golf Club so we often spend our weekends on the Golf Course or at the pool.
Pure Barre: Do you have kids or pets? Tell us all about them!
Ashley: Yes, we have a Wheaten Terrier named Oliver who just turned one in July. We are also expecting our first child in March 2016 and we just found out that we are having a little boy! I am still feeling great – a lot of which I attribute to still doing Pure Barre every day!
Pure Barre: Complete this phrase. On a typical Saturday, you can find me…
Ashley: Taking or teaching a Pure Barre class – if I am taking a weekend morning class it is generally with a few friends followed by brunch. You can also find me and my husband at the dog park with our wheaten terrier Oliver whom we absolutely adore.
Pure Barre: Tell us something interesting that your new Pure Barre clients might not know about you.
Ashley: I love to travel internationally and experience different cultures. We took trips all over the world growing up, and it has been a big part of my life ever since. I lived in Italy for six months and went back later in life. It is actually where my husband and I got engaged! We went to Paris for our honeymoon and we have vowed to always do an international trip every year moving forward. We even have one planned for a few months after the baby is born!
Congratulations to Ashley on her second Pure Barre studio opening! Find out more by visiting the Pure Barre Willowbrook website.
Want to learn more about the life of a Pure Barre studio owner? Head on over to our franchising site