by Alessandra Izzo aka Ally Cat
The pole community is full of multi-talented artists and entrepreneurs who dream of creating a successful business servicing our industry while following their passions. As an incorrigible entrepreneur myself, I’m always interested in the stories behind these amazing individuals (mostly strong-willed and inspirational women!), so I’ve created a blog series looking at what makes these movers and shakers tick, and the businesses they have created.
I spoke with Fiona Perso of local apparel supplier Pole Threads, to get the down low on how she got her business thriving.
A: Hi Fiona, thanks for being part of this series! Can you tell me firstly, how did you first discover pole dancing?
F: I organised a friend’s Hen’s night several years ago and pole dancing was on the agenda. I loved it straightaway but I didn’t have any friends who wanted to come to class with me, and I was bit of a shy, timid little lamb back then, so it took me a while to get up the courage to get started. I’ve been poling for about five years now.
A: What is it about the pole community you love most?
F: Can I say everything? What I love most is the community. I played state level basketball for about five years, which is of course a team sport. But I never felt the same sense of community or support that I’ve experienced as part of the pole community. Even though it’s essentially a solo sport, everyone wants you to succeed and do your best. There’s no cattiness backstage at competitions, at least in my experience. In class there’s always someone to spot you if required, and cheer you when you finally nail that nemesis move. There’s no judgement, which is pretty rare these days.
A: What gave you the idea to start Pole Threads?
F: In a nutshell my own frustration ordering pole wear from overseas! The shipping sometimes costs just as much or more than what you’re actually ordering and then it usually takes at least two weeks to arrive. If you order the wrong size, it’s cheaper to reorder the correct size rather than pay the shipping to exchange the product, and even then you have to wait on the item being exchanged and resent.
I felt like it was draining the fun out of the experience of buying new pole wear. I found myself wondering why doesn’t anyone stock these international brands in Australia so I can buy them without worrying about exchange rates, exorbitant shipping costs and long transit times? Then I had a bit of “f#$k it” moment and just decided to start building something myself.
A: Has your muggle job helped in getting Pole Threads off the ground?
F: Basically I have no business background. I was a lab rat for seven years working in an environmental research lab. I did a couple of years as a personal trainer, and now I work for Australia Post as an account manager for our larger freight customers. So I know a bit about freight and logistics but that’s really all the expertise I’ve brought over to this new venture with me.
A: How are you choosing the labels you are stocking?
F: A little bit selfishly to be honest. I choose Bad Kitty because they are the biggest and most recognised pole wear brand in the world. They’ve been around for a long time, everyone loves them, and everyone wears them. You can’t walk into a pole studio without seeing someone wearing Bad Kitty! Creatures of XIX I choose because I loved their pole wear. It’s fun and fierce and unique and I really wanted some of their outfits, so it seemed like a good idea to stock it!
A: Can you give us a hint at what might be coming next?
F: I would love to stock Marlo’s Flow Movement wear. I have three pairs of her flow pants and I live in them. They’re amazingly comfortable, but made for movement. You can pole in them, (low flow stuff, they’re not sticky), you can roll around the floor in them, you can stretch in them. I can’t even describe how much I love them.
A: What is your vision for the future of Pole Threads?
F: I want to build a one stop shop to fulfil all the pole community’s wants and desires. I want to bring together all of the great international and local brands that I love and make them easily accessible in Australia. I want shopping for new pole wear to be an exciting, fun experience and for the customer to feel like they’re really valued and to get that personal touch with every order that goes out.
A: What is your advice for anyone out there looking to start their own pole business?
F: Just do it! No matter what kind of business you want to start, just get started. If you wait until you feel like you’re ready and have everything organised, then realistically you’ll probably never start. Just start where you are, with what you have now, and be prepared to work hard, because it’s not going to happen overnight.
Ask for help and learn as much as you can from other people. I really have no idea what I’m doing, I’ve never been involved in running a business before, I’m figuring it all out as I go. The worst you can do is fail.
There’s a quote from Jim Carrey that I love from a Commencement Address at the 2014 MUM Graduation which I think sums it up pretty well. I recommend you look up the whole speech on YouTube, it’s truly inspiring!
“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” – Jim Carrey