April Founder of 2Score Fitness: Championing Body Positivity For Women Of All Shapes & Sizes
April Shannon didn't set out to create a business. In fact, she says 2Score made her in the process. She joined a company on her weight loss journey, and during that time, the owner of that company asked her to lead a few classes. The owner became sick, and April managed the classes while the owner recuperated. This was when she realized she could create her own. However, she noticed many false beliefs from the attendees.
April said, "A woman of my size, a lot of times—other plus-sized women don't think that they can move, right. Like, I can't do this. I don't know; they think they have to get small before working out or with other people. And so with that comes a lot of self-esteem issues, a lot of just self-doubts." This is why April tied into the body-positivity portion of her business.
As a result, she heard from her customers, "Hey, I wasn't wearing shorts until I came to your class. I was kind of nervous about doing these things until I came to your class, or I feel comfortable because it's you teaching it." 2Score Fitness became an atmosphere that allowed women to work out, have fun, and be healthy.
What are you most proud of when it comes to 2Score?
April is most proud of curating body positivity conversations. Women tell her, as a result of attending one of her classes, they feel comfortable showing their arms or wearing shorts. She's proud to see someone start in the back of the class and then work themselves up to the front of the class. And even when people haven't been to class, they'll still reach out to let April know while also telling her they love what she's doing. Her regulars will often gift their tickets away when they cannot attend.
What fears did you have along the journey?
April had a tremendous amount of doubt and a lack of trust when she started 2Score. She asked herself, "So I'm wondering if I can do this. Are people going to accept this from me, you know, can I rub elbows in the fitness world? I'm 40, and I'm just starting this thing. So am I going to be respected in dance fitness? Are they going to appreciate my style?" April didn't want to enter the dance fitness industry like everyone else. She focused on creating a unique brand and style.
April comes from a family of creative side hustles. Her mother is an artist and a seamstress, her grandfather had a store and dump trucks, but nobody legitimized their businesses. Legalizing her business and drudging through the paperwork feared her because she didn't see anyone else doing it in that way. She said, "When you meet other people, and they have opportunities for you, and it's like, what kind of paperwork you want me to have? Oh, what do you want me to do? I should have what? I've never heard that."
Like most Black and Brown women entrepreneurs, April didn't know the questions to ask and found that the people she met weren't willing to provide information to those questions. It was difficult for her to move forward in her business because she lacked the necessary information.
She said, "People aren't always willing to give up their sources, but that's weird because I want whoever I use for this design—I want them to get more business. Now I'm not going to tell you my prices because I don't know if my prices will be the same as yours, but I might be able to give you a ballpark."
What's the biggest risk you've taken so far?
April's biggest risk was paying for a studio space in advance for an entire month without receiving registrations. In the end, it paid for itself because people did register. Usually, she holds classes in the park, but with the weather changing, she had to pivot. So lately, she's been paying for studio space with every ticket selling out.
Tell us about any major setbacks that you had and how you recovered.
April learned early on to speak up when something doesn't feel right. When she started the merchandise part of her business, she had an exchange with a printing company that was rude. She felt a bit intimidated because she didn't know the printing process and had a lot of questions. Instead of letting it go, April decided to stop the transaction and find another person to do business with. Even though she had to start the process again from the beginning, she understood that she needed to teach people how to treat her. She stuck with her values in the end.
Describe what it was like preparing for the pitch competition.
With zero experience in pitching, April saw an Instagram post for the Pull Up & Pitch Competition. She said, "I'm famous for talking myself out of things. So even though I knew I wanted to go, in my head, I was already like, I'm going, but my heart was still like, are we really—are we going?"
April pitched to her children and her nephew. She placed a lot of pressure on herself to perfect the one-minute pitch. Although the pitching environment was more easygoing than April anticipated, there were fears of not having the business acumen to articulate her business. She laughed, "I can talk, but it was, you know, that business fears part that I was talking about earlier like there was still a lot of stuff that I didn't understand. And so, like, how are you going to scale your business? I'm like, what, what does that even mean?" The biggest takeaway for April was affirmation and confirmation. She said, "The belief and the confirmation that I can come into the room and sit at the table and that space can be created for you at the competition."
April felt that even if she walked away from the pitch competition without any capital and no wins, her win was that she presented herself and her business. And by doing that, April knew that she had to learn how to talk about what she does and let people know who she is.
Her advice is, "Just go. Get out of your head and go—big girl panties on activate, just go. Because you won't win if you don't play, so if you never go, you'll never know what you can do. You'll never know how that pitch could turn out if you don't pitch. You get feedback, so the feedback alone is enough for you to take and build. There are so many benefits from just going, whether you win—even the connections, I made connections with people in line. You will explore and learn different things about you as a business person and your business."
April received VISA cards from the Pull Up & Pitch Competition. She bought merchandise for her business (printed more towels), created more workout tanks, and what she needed the most was a new website built (grand prize).
Support isn't always given to Black and Brown women in business; when has this shown and hurt or disappointed you the most?
Since April launched her business, she's experienced overwhelming support. She can't say she has encountered any major barriers being a Black woman in business at this early stage. However, some business partnerships ended through the growing pains of learning to collaborate with other companies while other connections thrived.
Her biggest barrier to date is sourcing suppliers. She's paid more for certain products because she doesn't have any direct connections to receive the wholesale prices that would help her to increase 2Score's revenue.
April said, "We complain about prices sometimes from Black and Brown people, but we don't have the same resources and connections to acquire supplies. And so we have to pay more, which means that our services and our products cost more. And so sometimes, with my merch, I don't want to charge as much as I have to, but it is business. And I thank God for the support because people are like, I'm buying whatever you have."
What differentiates April from other business owners is her relationship with her vendors. She can't always make it to the events, but she'll CASHAPP their first sale of the day. She'll say, "You don't have to give me anything. This is just me spending money with you today."
What's the most critical lesson that you've learned about business?
The most critical lesson that April has learned is excelling in customer service. She said, "So I believe in treating people well and listening—my name and reputation when it comes down to how I treat my clients and customers is important to me.
And so, I have learned from being in business and watching others that it matters. It always matters what your customer thinks, always, you know, good, bad or indifferent. It matters what your customers think. And so, what are they coming for? Are they getting it? Do they feel good about what you're giving them, and what will they tell others about it? How do they feel? Confidence is important. Body positivity is important. It's important that while they're with me, I'm letting them know how sexy they are and how proud I am of them for getting through this song." If April receives any negative comments, she will reevaluate her business to see how she can serve better.
What do you think is an important skill or asset you need to succeed in business?
April believes entrepreneurs need to develop patience. She said, "Like a flower that you put the seed in the ground, it's not going to be a flower in two hours. You have to endure the rain. You have to endure the sunshine beating on you. You have to endure all of these things to achieve your ultimate result. And that's that blossom. So from seeds of blossom, some things will happen, and sometimes it will impede your growth."
April believes that it's the growth that will push you forward. As a small business owner, not everyone will listen, not every detail will be seen, you won't receive every support that you're looking for, and she believes most entrepreneurs walk away prematurely. Being patient allows you to listen and be aware of your environment to focus and build.
During April's first class, she had 6 or 7 people who attended. Regardless of how many showed up, she never canceled. Now, she'll have 20+ people in a class, and often tickets sell out quickly. Most people purchase their tickets the day before, so she must be patient and see it through.
What's the most exciting part of your business?
April laughed, "Can I say shaking my a** for money? The most exciting part is that I get to have fun. Like, it doesn't feel like work. I get to watch women commit to their goals their fitness goals but still have fun doing it. I get to watch people come out of their shells."
2Score's motto is, Fit, Fun, Free. At the beginning and the end of each class, they repeat I am fit. I am fun, I am free, and the only one who can change that is me. April loves seeing and hearing her clients say these words; it makes everything worth it, even when she has to wake up early and drag her equipment to the studio on the weekends.
What do you think the future holds for Black and Brown women entrepreneurs?
The future is wide open for Black and Brown women entrepreneurs. She said, "When I found out about Black Girl Ventures, I was just like, wow, because we hear a lot of stuff. We see a lot of things in the news, and we hear people talk about things, but not always do we see people who are actually on the ground doing the work for Black and Brown women in this way."
The idea of being in a community of Black and Brown women who own things and lead has been the inspiration for April. She envisions Black and Brown women locked in arms taking over and finding a place for themselves in this world. Despite the barriers to financial resources, April is optimistic about the future.
If you and I were meeting three years from now, looking back, what would it take for you to feel over the moon about your progress?
April hopes to have a 2Score fitness studio with space for other women business owners. She hopes to create a membership platform with curated offerings for the community.
Running a business while balancing a personal life can be demanding and taxing. How do you take care of yourself?
April uses the Body Talk conversations to speak intimately about mental health issues for her clients beyond fitness. Helping others is a form of self-care, so that she will check in with people inside and outside of 2Score. She creates time for herself that doesn't involve business while also spending time with God in prayer.
What is your favorite quote or mantra?
"Everybody, just calm down."
What is a book and podcast that you would recommend?
Books: Armed to Surrender: Life Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Amazing by Dr. Ashanti Foster and Natural Expressions: A Family Affair by Andrea J. Parham-Shannon
Podcast: The Big Girl Talk Show
What's your favorite business hack or app you can't live without?
What's one food item that you have a hard time saying no to?
Chocolate chip cookies.
What's next for 2Score?
2Score will continue serving the community through fitness classes and Body Talk conversations. They've tackled difficult conversations like postpartum, alopecia and most recently talked with a couple about their fitness journey to lose 500lbs as a couple. April's goal is to motivate and inspire people of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and ages to have fun while getting fit.
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