We had the good fortune of connecting with Yolanda Thomas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Yolanda, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Whenever my career has jumped up a level, to the point where others notice, It has always been because I took a risk. I would say I’m someone who plays It pretty safe but when I know I have been stagnant for a while I know it’s time to take a risk. The next time one is presented and It feels right in my gut, I jump on It as I feel It was presented to me for a reason. My latest risk was expanding my business in the middle of a Pandemic! Or you could call It “Seizing an opportunity”
One time 10 years ago I did everything opposite to what I would normally do for a whole week! (I was copying an episode from Seinfield!) I actually got a major gig from a direct action I took.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
ABOUT THE BUSINESS: I run Hip Hop Dance Classes for Adults in Sydney and LA. The creation of Groove Zone began in Sydney, Australia and then expanded to Los Angeles. Starting with a unique level called ‘Absolute Beginner’, my motto is “So you think you CAN’T Dance? Bet I can teach you!”
WHAT SETS US APART: We provide a friendly, supportive community with no judgement for the Adult Absolute Beginner who has always wanted to learn to dance but had nowhere to start. It wasn’t about teaching choreography, it was about teaching Groove! After all, most of us just want to look cool on the dance floor at the next Social Event! I narrowed it down to 3 Fundamental Grooves that run through Hip Hop dance that could easily be taught.
MOST PROUD OF: I’m really in the business of inspiring and empowering people to find their true potential. My business provides a platform for students to face their fears and their limiting beliefs (“I have 2 left feet”) and come out the other side beaming and full of confidence that spreads into other areas of their life. When you do something you are scared to do, It gives you a major high! I love supporting students to get out of their ‘Comfort Zone’ and into the ‘Groove Zone’!
I was honored to be asked by Wikihow to be a co-author as an expert in my field for their Beginner Hip Hop Dance articles.
HOW DID YOU GET THERE: After teaching adults for over 10 years at the prestigious Sydney Dance Company Studios, I realized most adults were too scared to even join a ‘Beginner’ level class. The main reasons were fear of possible humiliation by not keeping up, or being surrounded by kids in the class. From this need I created the first ADULT ABSOLUTE BEGINNER HIP HOP CLASSES in Sydney and classes quickly sold out!
CHALLENGES: When I relocated to Los Angeles I had to start from scratch. I remember holding my first free trial class in 2015 and only 8 booked in. Luckily, I had amazing emotional support from friends who reminded me- “Wow 8! That’s better than zero!” The other challenge was finding available studio time in LA. You couldn’t book out a regular class time, so It was hard to build numbers. When I finally found a place I could hold regular classes and numbers were climbing, the Pandemic hit. When group dance classes were ordered to be shut down I focused on creating and selling Online Step by Step Video Tutorials of my choreography. I sell these online for $10 each.
LESSONS: A lesson i have learned is not handing over the control of my brand to an outsider. It is better to pay more and be completely independent and in control of every aspect of your brand.
MY BRAND. MY STORY: This year during the Pandemic when other businesses were shutting down I set my sights on expanding. I took a financial risk to be completely independent. I’m really proud that I recently found a studio of my own that I co-lease with a good friend and his business on Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood. The studio is designed with amazing lighting and ambience. It is set up for group, private dance, vocal lessons and performances.
I also got a new logo, revamped the website and set up an automated booking platform for Sydney and LA. I still answer every single email inquiry personally as I still consider this a small business. Both Sydney Courses just Sold Out and I’m currently holding private classes and small groups in LA.
BENDING WITH THE TIMES: I am able to offer small group classes at a reasonable price of $20 per student. We have a maximum of 5 to adhere to social distancing, temperature checks at the door and only Online Bookings to control numbers and provide contactless check-in. Although it’s not an outdoor studio, both doors on either end remain open for fresh airflow.
You can now also book an entire class with me and 2-5 of YOUR family and friends for $100 and you split the cost.
I feel blessed I can offer private classes at group class prices during this time when people’s mental health needs to be a priority. To book just go to the website. Link below. I can’t wait to meet you!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My favorite Happy Hour right now from 5-7pm is La Boheme on Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood. $8 cocktails and yummy small food plate selections with great outdoor Atmosphere.
Mexicali Restaurant on Ventura Blvd, Studio City for great margaritas and big top atmosphere. Love the red leather swivel chairs!
Hiking at one of the many National Parks away from the city. A walk around Hollywood Hills to see amazing houses.
Before the shutdown for Free Live Music I would recommend: Monday nights at Viper Room for Sunset Jam. Tuesday nights at Whisky a Go Go for Ultimate Jam. Wednesday once a month at Lucky Strike on Hollywood and Highland for Soundcheck Live.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Tony Robbins Unleash The Power Within (UPW) I did his free facebook 5 day COMEBACK CHALLENGE and then signed up for UPW. I made major decisions and moved forward massively after these Courses. Not to mention the benefit for my Mental Health in the middle of a Pandemic. I was thriving! He is a master at what he does and over delivers every time.