My Tell All Pure Barre Story
There are so many pieces of my Pure Barre story that no one knows, even though I feel like I’ve shared so many of them in this online space. Yes, my story is unusual, just as any good story is, but there have been countless moments that are undeniably God and irrevocably good, even when they seemed confusing as all get out while they were happening.
Every year on March 7, I’m reminded of one of those moments. Well, three, to be exact. March 7 is the day that reminds me how seeds get planted and what they can turn into.
The first time I set foot in Colorado Springs was March 1, 2014, less than a week before my final interview with Pure Barre corporate. It was an interview that never should have happened, considering my ripe age of 21 and lack of knowledge about the market I was proposing to live in, not to mention the fact that my application had already been rejected a few months prior. In fact, I wasn’t even supposed to be in Colorado that week, but I need to back up to get you there.
Let’s rewind all the way to March 7, 2012. I was a sophomore in college, and Ross, my mom, and our best friends Michael and Emily flew to Denver, Colorado, to go skiing on our spring break. It was our second ski trip, but our first day in Colorado, and by the end of the 5 day adventure, Ross and I developed an obsession with the idea of living in Colorado someday.
If you’ve ever met me in person, you know that when I get an idea in my head, it quickly becomes a goal. So, it’s no surprise that in January of 2013, I reached out to the then (very tiny) Pure Barre corporate team and requested an internship with their marketing department. Newsflash - they were way too small at the time to have any kind of internship program, but I knew they were based in Denver, and I just felt like it was a good way to line up my dream job post-grad. I had been working in the Nashville Pure Barre studios for about 9 months, and while my heart dreamed of owning my own studio one day, my head told me that was illogical. A corporate path seemed far more attainable, and I ended up getting the internship.
For the next couple of months, I rejected all Nashville internships and worked on subletting my apartment as I prepped to move to Denver all summer. On March 7, 2013, Ross, my mom, and I flew from Utah (where we had been skiing for Spring Break), to Denver to find my summer housing and meet with my new “boss”. To tell you the truth, I don’t even remember her name, but we had conversed many times on the phone, and she had filled my head with promises of a thrilling summer and a job after college. But that day, as soon as we landed, I opened my email and found a message from a woman that I didn’t know, informing me that the marketing director no longer worked for Pure Barre. The corporate team was relocating to South Carolina, and my internship evaporated into thin air. We were suddenly in Denver for no reason at all. I’m pretty sure that we spent the next 3 days walking around Boulder and Denver as I softly sobbed into my coat (dramatic is an understatement). But honestly, I felt that God was shutting a door and making it very clear.
I went home to Nashville and began to contact the internships that I had turned down. I ended up taking a crazy job at Jumpstart Foundry - a technology accelerator at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center - which ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made. Not only did I work with startup companies all summer, learning the ins and outs of entrepreneurship, but it absolutely prepared me to own my own business and understand the startup life. But, at the end of the summer, I really felt like Nashville must be the place where God wanted me. After all, I had made the best connections and already lined up another internship for my senior year with a local company. “I get the redirection,” I remember thinking, “This is the place for me.”
And then, on one of my last days at Jumpstart, an older colleague that I barely knew approached me and asked me if I worked at Pure Barre in Nashville. When I said yes, he promptly told me that his aunt (who I also barely knew) worked out there daily, and she and her husband would be willing to invest in me if I ever wanted my own Pure Barre (sidebar - no, they are not my investors, but this conversation did happen). I had never even told anyone at work that I wanted to own a Pure Barre.
Are. You. Freaking. Kidding. Me?!
That’s how I felt towards God in that moment. I had worked all summer to let the Pure Barre dream (which technically began when I started taking classes as a 17 year old in Lexington) go, and some random person had the audacity to walk up to me and reopen the floodgates. I wrestled with it for a couple of weeks, but I couldn’t shake it. I met with the potential investor. I began to interview other owners and start to figure out how I could actually do this. I used a Pure Barre studio in Colorado Springs as the model for my entrepreneurship senior capstone and spent months researching the market, making contacts, and building a financial plan.
Why Colorado Springs, you ask? Well, I think it was just an act of God, but I knew it was the only major market left in Colorado without a studio, and I liked the idea of living in Colorado, someday working as a Master Teacher Trainer for Pure Barre corporate, and ruling the world. L. O. L. baby Griffin, L. O. L.
In January of 2014, I compiled all of my research and applied to Pure Barre corporate to open a franchise here, and……..they rejected it without a second thought. Their answer was basically, “Apply again later.” Cool, thanks for that. I left my Business Finance class and went home to my apartment, where I ugly cried until my nose bled. My flair for the dramatic was still alive and well. Again, I felt angry, but also a strange desire to just move to Colorado anyway. So, I started applying to companies in Denver and Boulder daily and lining up interviews. I continued to email and nag Pure Barre corporate, which included writing a letter to the CEO (I still have this letter by the way, maybe I’ll share it someday). In the meantime, Ross, my mom, and I were planning our annual ski trip, the last one of my college career, and we had our sites set on Lake Tahoe in California, but they had a really poor snow season that year. So, we haphazardly decided to go to Breckenridge, CO, instead. Blessing in disguise.
The trip was planned. We would fly into Denver on Friday, and I would interview for 2 companies in Denver and Boulder before skiing all week long in Breck. But, one week before the trip, I got a call. From Pure Barre corporate. Asking me to come to Spartanburg, South Carolina, next Friday to interview for my franchise. Cue panic mode.
We changed everything at the drop of a hat. We flew to Denver on Friday, I had an interview in Boulder Saturday morning, Denver Saturday afternoon, and we drove to the Springs that night. We pulled into town, where it was completely foggy, snowy, and you couldn’t see the mountains. The Springs had no cool factor, was nothing at all like Denver and Boulder, and none of us wanted to admit that it was really different than my research had led me to believe. No matter, there was work to be done. We spent all day Sunday and Monday meeting with real estate agents to compile more research for my business plan that was due to corporate on Tuesday. We drove back to Denver Monday night, sat in the hotel bar, finished my plan, and went skiing all day Tuesday (gotta get it in, y’all).
We flew to Spartanburg on Wednesday.
Hung out with family friends on Thursday.
And on Friday, March 7, 2014, I spent half a day being grilled by the entire corporate team about my potential franchise. I walked out feeling dazed and confused, with no indication of whether or not my dreams would be elevated or crushed. We began our journey back to Nashville that afternoon, and in our layover in Chicago, I got the email that I had done it. I was approved. There were a lot of tears on that plane, but this time, it was my mom and Ross, as I sat there stunned and completely unable to picture what my life was about to become.
3 years in a row, the exact same day marked a monumental shift in my life. God planted Colorado in my heart and grew it into something I never saw coming. During the next 9 months, I would finish school while setting up my LLC, get engaged, graduate, move to Colorado, plan a wedding, spend 6 months just trying to sign a lease, get married, and open the business. It was the ride of my life, to say the least.
In her book, Remember God, Annie F. Downs writes,
“Repeatedly when God rescued His people or healed them or restored them, the Israelites would mark it. Whether with a stack of stones or an altar or a name, they would make a place of rememberance so that God’s power and work would not be forgotten.”
The prophet Samuel named one of these stones Ebenezer to remember that God had been their help. March 7 is my Ebenezer stone in every way. It’s a date that reminds me that God’s plan is so much bigger than mine.
Those who know me well know that I have a crazy good memory for dates, and that’s why this story is even more special to me. It was crafted in a way that is so personal, so intricate, that I can remember every feeling of hope, rejection, and the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s funny, because the day I got approved was actually the beginning of this journey, but it felt like the end of the fight. I hope you’re encouraged by this because it always brings me peace to look back on it, and I hope you can find your own Ebenezer stones to see the potential for your dreams to grow.