Adriene Holland and Chloe O'Hearn started their new hooping and fitness business, Co-Motion Studio, after testing the waters with a pop-up shop in the Crosstown neighborhood's MEMFix Cleveland Street event.
The first thing best friends and business partners Adriene Holland and Chloe O'Hearn noticed about the vacant storefront at 416 N. Cleveland Avenue was the black-and-white vinyl floor.
"We thought it looked like a dance party floor," O'Hearn, 37, of East Memphis, said. Dance parties are a part of their mission, and business model.
The two women recently launched Co-Motion Studio
, a creative movement studio that offers hula hooping classes along with a variety of other fitness models in an effort to foster a healthy and engaged community.
Choosing the Crosstown space to set up shop was a walkover for the hooping enthusiasts. "We didn't want to be just in any strip mall. We also wanted to have a positive impact on the neighborhood," Holland, 28, of Midtown, said.
The twosome first participated in the inaugural MEMFix
Cleveland Street event in the fall of 2012, setting up a "pop-up hoop studio" directly across the street from their now brick-and-mortar location. It was then that they noticed the groovy floor across the way, as well as the inviting all-glass storefront.
"We're across the street from the (Crosstown Carrier Station) post office. We moved in right before Christmas, and as everyone was dropping off their Christmas packages, they would walk by and see all these hula hoops in the windows," O'Hearn said. "We have these welcoming open windows full of hula hoops and fairy wings and all this sunshine."
The established foot traffic in the area has proven to be a surprising boon for the hoop dancers, and they are doing their part to meet the community half way.
One Sunday a month the Co-Motion coowners host a "Hoop Church," during which they invite the community to join in on playing with the wide variety of illuminated, glittered and multicolored hula hoops, many of which are designed by Holland and O'Hearn, dancing to a live drum circle and just interacting and moving, usually on the sidewalk in front of their studio. "Part of what we do is bring people together in fun, positive ways," O'Hearn said.
Applying for and receiving a MEMShop grant, provided by the Mayor's Innovation Delivery Team
, crystallized the businesswomen's thoughts on pursuing their dream.
The MEMShop initiative allows new businesses to try their ideas for six months, in the hopes that they will sign a long-term lease while filling empty spaces and energizing neglected neighborhoods. Co-Motion Studio was the latest to fill seven vacant storefronts in the Crosstown neighborhood after the MEMFix event.
Holland and O'Hearn met after O'Hearn began taking Holland's hula hooping classes at another dance studio. Eventually O'Hearn exhausted all of Holland's offerings, and the two began hanging out at social events. Their passion for the art and exercise form led them to discussing the possibility of hula hooping as a career.
"I never imagined myself in corporate America, and I found myself asking, 'Why am I spending my life selling car parts on the Internet?'" O'Hearn said. "Adriene was feeling the same way, so we began to talk more seriously that this was what we really wanted to do."
In addition to offering hula hoop classes, they host belly dancing classes, yoga, poi and kids classes, and they host dance parties and kids' events. "Our idea was to create a community center. It's not just about creative dance movement. It's about mental movement and community movement centered around hooping," Holland said. "That's where the name and logo come from. 'Co-Motion' is short for 'community movement,'" O'Hearn said.
Their next plan? Installing a glitter dispenser in front of the studio.