In addition to being your resource for practical and inspiring lifestyle content, Mon Amye is your friend, your sounding-board, your motivator. She’s the one you turn to for advice and to share your successes, and that’s just what the Founders + Friends series does each month. [Plus, I love hearing from entrepreneurs and now I have a reason to ask after my favorite success stories!]
Today we’re talking to Kathryn and Amy, the sweet girls behind Alexandria, VA’s Swēt Ride. I first heard about them from a local friend when the doors opened last November, and was a quick convert to this boutique cycling studio. They’re really making some headway in the competitive indoor cycling market with their mission-based approach and quality experience. Read on to learn more about the co-founders behind Swēt Ride:
[Amye] The Basics: Tell us about Swēt Ride. What do you offer? Who are your customers?
[Kathryn and Amy] Swēt Ride is Alexandria’s only indoor cycling boutique studio. We offer a collection of outstanding classes that use a sport-specific methodology called sweet spot training (hence the name).
The technique focuses on riding at a pace that is challenging, yet sustainable for the 50 minute ride and adds high intensity intervals that result in improvements in strength and endurance and a calorie burn of 450-650 calories per class! All of our rides are rhythmic-based (paced to music) and each song brings another exciting element to the moment, so every rider is energized by our swēt beats, fantastic instructors (called Techs), and an intimate and personalized experience.
Most importantly, our mission is to Tap-In, Tone-Up and Sweeten Life. Our mission is to provide an experience that allows our clients to have 50-minutes to focus on themselves, reset their minds, pedal away any negativity and feel empowered to achieve a “sweeter life”. The beauty of our studio and methodology is that we are open to people who are of a wide range of fitness levels ranging from athletes to individuals who are just getting “back in the saddle”. Some of our clientele are: busy mom’s and dad’s who are dedicated to balancing work, life and family; endurance athletes who are training for an upcoming race; friends who love working out together; and anyone that is looking for a studio that not only provides a solid workout, but a personalized touch. We’ve even had “cardio-haters” convert to Swēt-Ride lovers!
[Editor’s note: one of my personal favorite features is the technology integrated into each bike, tracking your RPM, heart rate, etc. which you can login, review, and compare rides anytime on their membership site. A sweet feature!]
The BFFs: How did you originally meet and become friends?
Kat was an instructor at my studio called BARRE TECH., where she quickly became a mentor to the staff and a friend to me. When Kat and Amy decided to create Swēt Ride, Kat had recently had her first son, Alexander, and Amy was awaiting the arrival her first son, David. Not only did we have a passion for fitness and empowering others, but we shared the excitement (and fears) of being new moms.
The Startup Phase: How did you first decide to go into business together? What moved you from ideas to action?
We were discussing a plan and locations, and then all of the sudden, the space next to BARRE TECH. became available and we jump-started the partnership to capture the moment!
The Now: Briefly describe Swetride as it stands today. Who manages what aspects of the business? Has that evolved as time passes?
We were able to combine our strengths to create a studio and experience that we are proud of – but every day we are learning more and changing course! Kat programs the cycling classes, trains the Techs, oversees the front desk and support team, and business/financial reporting. Her background in exercise science is invaluable and our team is strong.
My background as an entrepreneur and owning/launching boutique fitness studios helped us to plan and act quickly on the opportunity when it was knocking at our door. I handle the online presence, marketing, events, and the daily operations/stock. We collaborate on social media and building relationships with other local businesses. To break it down, I work on getting folks in the door and Kat manages anything that touches a bike.
As time passes, you learn that there is more to do and many tasks overlap for cohesive delivery of our products and services, so it’s important that we stay true to our mission and values, and adjust our vision as needed. I believe every business should revisit their business plan and evolve to the nature of the nature of the business and the market.
The Hard Stuff: What is the biggest obstacle you have faced while in business?
We had to make an additional capital investment to improve the soundproofing in our space required by the landlord. It was challenging to come to terms with the extra spend and our responsibilities to the landlord, while at the same time, delivering the best possible experience to our clientele. Many studios face similar issues and it can be frustrating because, as tenants, there is not much ROI. The project impacted our momentum, but as a business, you conquer and persevere. We are very determined to build a brand in Virginia and beyond!
The Network: Everyone, and every business, relies on a network. Who do you turn to for support?
Our network is full of folks that are not just friends but experts in areas such as networking, marketing, and blogging. We take advantage of the local blog sites and bloggers and how they capture the heritage of our area and also analyze their reach in the market.
We also rely on our own employees. They are so close to our customers and are in our studio every day. Our culture and company values encourage transparency and feedback. We actively encourage both our front desk staff and our Techs to provide us with feedback on how we can improve their experience, and in turn, they commit to us, our brand and help to grow our network.
The Wins: How do you celebrate your successes?
When we see growth, we get excited of course and look for more ways to improve the customer’s experience. Perhaps that is an update in the space or swēt merchandise.
We are young and less than a year old, but our goal is to be successful enough to continue to reinvest in our studio, our people and continue to bring a “swēt” experience to everyone that comes to our door!
Voila! Practical inspiration for your own big dreams, delivered to mes amies.
A huge thanks to Amy and Kathryn for sharing their journey to Swēt Ride with us. To jump on a real estate opportunity (location location!) and trust each other on an accelerated timeline is impressive – but for these fit and savvy entrepreneurs, it seems like that is just their style!
If you’re in the DC area and wanting to sweeten your fitness routine before the holidays ahead, be sure to check out their class offerings:
I’m also happy to share more about my Swēt Ride experiences if you have questions before committing!
Know of a business that should be featured on Founders + Friends? Suggestions welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime!
Liked this post? You may also enjoy: another DC-edition of Founders + Friends