I never in a million years pictured myself as a multi-unit franchise owner by the age of 25. You would think that as someone whose parents and grandparents owned their own businesses that the entrepreneurial spirit was in my blood. Growing up, I saw firsthand what it takes to run one; the long hours and hard work that were put in each day. There were moments when the line between business and family blurred, making me second-guess if this hustle was meant for me as I carved my own future.
It was 2016 and I was a biology major at University of California Santa Cruz, contemplating if I would pursue medical school one day. I was also coaching the cheer team at the local high school part-time. Like any young adult, I was on a journey to discover my passions. Coaching, it turns out, was a job that truly lit me up. Witnessing the transformative impact I had on those girls, helping them embrace confidence in everything they did, brought me immeasurable joy. It must have been contagious because it caught the attention of the local franchise owner of The Little Gym Morgan Hill in California, who offered me a job to work at her gym as a part-time dance instructor – an offer I couldn’t resist.
My coaching skills effortlessly translated into the world of teaching little kids, guiding them in both their physical and emotional growth. Little did I realize this would spark my love for developing and nurturing children on their journey to becoming their best selves. The close-knit community of supportive parents and families was something else I didn’t expect to come along with the role. I worked at The Little Gym Morgan Hill as I continued to pursue my undergraduate degree, advancing to become regional director where I managed staff and developed the gym’s enriching curriculum.
The idea of owning my own The Little Gym didn’t come into fruition until my fiancé and I moved to Hollister, CA, and realized the need for one in the community. What I thought was once a closed door into entrepreneurship suddenly opened up due to The Little Gym. The franchise model allowed me to continue with my passion of shaping the next generation of children, but also provided the pathway to run a business that was both fulfilling and financially rewarding.
While the idea of the gym in Hollister was taking shape, another unexpected opportunity presented itself. A franchise owner of two gyms was selling one in nearby Steven’s Creek, CA. Conversations within the franchise system led the owner to ask me about acquiring this existing gym – something that was nowhere in my plans as I was working tirelessly to get my first gym up and running.
After extensive research and gathering guidance from within The Little Gym franchise family, I bought the Steven’s Creek gym and officially took over as owner in Sept. 2022. Throughout this decision-making process, I also delved into the support offered by Unleashed Brands, the youth enrichment franchise platform company that owns The Little Gym. Their franchise model provides support and resources that make the prospect of running two gyms in the future feasible and financially viable. Within just the first year of running the Steven’s Creek location, we saw record growth, doubling the number of families served than previous years. This monumental growth served as a personal confidence boost, affirming that I have what it takes to flourish as a business owner under The Little Gym and Unleashed Brands platform.
My path as a franchise owner has certainly been unexpected and full of twist and turns. Despite growing up in a family of entrepreneurs and initially steering away from that path, I found myself not only embracing, but excelling in the role—now a franchise owner of not one, but two gyms, all by the age of 25. I credit a big portion of my success as an owner due to the guidance of existing franchisees within The Little Gym system. Their accomplishments managing their own gyms for years has been a guiding light into how I run my Steven’s Creek location. Having a built-in support network with them and other owners has been one of the gems of the franchise model since we are able lean on each other, constantly exchanging ideas and advice.
As I ready the Hollister location for opening, I’m learning every day what it means to be a successful franchise owner. My advice to those wishing to seek a similar career path would be to do the thorough research to decide if franchising is right for you. Connect with fellow owners, build a network of individuals you can rely on for guidance and most importantly, trust in yourself and the journey. There clearly was no straight path in my journey to becoming a multi-unit franchise owner. Welcome any unexpected turns and trust your skillset to make informed decisions. I know if it wasn’t for embracing the unexpected detours along the road, I may not be where I am today with my two gyms. It’s because of everything that I’ve learned thus far in my journey that I know both gyms will flourish under my leadership and direction and continue to be cherished resources for the families in the community.