Today we’d like to introduce you to Olivia DeRusse and Kayla McClellan. Them and their team share their story with us below:
Queen Vibes KC started as a dream of co-founder Kayla McClellan. Growing up, she was a track athlete and competitive cheerleader who loved being active. After college she began doing group fitness classes and it was her first exposure to step.
After finishing grad school and moving to Kansas City, she found it challenging to find a fitness environment she felt comfortable in. She felt especially aware of her shape, hair, and rhythm in spaces that were predominantly white.
Cut to early 2021, she shared her idea of a boutique fitness experience inspired by black women with Olivia DeRusse who she met as a Teach for America corps member in 2018. At the time, Olivia was teaching a cardio dance fitness format called WERQ and Kayla had been attending her classes. Olivia is someone who has always struggled with finding a consistent fitness regimen and found that group fitness classes were the best fit for her.
While they had met through teaching, Olivia had her Bachelor’s degree in business management. Kayla had just begun a course called Entrepreneurial Business Basics led by Kira Hopkins. After a few brief discussions about QVKC, one day Kayla called Olivia and said “So I have a crazy idea…” Olivia knew right away what Kayla was going to ask and she said “You wanna do this together.” And just like that, Queen Vibes KC began to grow into the business it is today.
Since that day, Kayla and Olivia have put on 3 events, two classes each week, connected and partnered with other black women in the fitness industry, and helped women fall back in love with moving their bodies. The best compliments they can receive are “That felt so good”, “I’m proud of myself”, and “I’ll see you again next week!”
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
We don’t believe any new business venture is a smooth road, so while we have certainly faced challenges, overall we feel abundantly blessed. We have had the opportunity to meet, connect with, and be mentored by so many amazing fitness and entrepreneurial professionals who are willing to share their wisdom with us. We have been wildly supported by family and friends both in the KC community and beyond.
We are both very motivated by passion and purpose, and sometimes we forget that in business- money matters! So really taking the time to assess what is working well from a monetary lens has been something we’ve had to be very diligent about and learn as we go, but we are continuing to make more strategic decisions each month. The fitness industry is a saturated one and has been changed by the pandemic, so we have to be really focused on our QVKC niche market and how to provide a valuable experience worth investing in.
We both work full time in education and feel very called to the work we do especially now. We make sure to find balance in making sure we are able to fully show up in those roles while still investing the time in Queen Vibes to help us grow and reach more women.
As you know, we’re big fans of Queen Vibes KC. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
What we are most proud of is that we are unapologetic about who we are and who we serve. Our space is first and foremost a safe and empowering space for black women and people of color to come and be their most authentic selves. We provide a space intended to be a joyful step in people’s journey toward self-love, fitness, accountability, and community.
While our classes are open and welcoming to everyone, we prioritize sisterhood above all in the music we choose, the way we set intentions, and where we hold our classes. While we are very different from each other, we are both silly, welcoming, and encouraging women and we think that helps us connect with the people who join us for class. We pay attention and make sure to get to know our clients, their goals, their personalities, and think of them as friends first and foremost.
Currently, we offer two weekly classes- on Tuesday at 5:30 PM we offer QVKC Step, a step aerobics class designed by Kayla that integrates dance, core work, and a nice long cool-down stretch. On Wednesday we offer WERQ Cardio Dance Fitness at 6:30 PM and we are planning to start offering some yoga classes in early spring!
Additionally, we offer event-based services, both signature events planned and hosted by us, and options to be featured at events for businesses, organizations, or parties. We have designed a few merchandise pieces to continue growing our brand that will be for sale in early 2022.
Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
So the two of us are definitely each other’s yin and yang. Olivia can be more reserved and detailed oriented, while Kayla is an extroverted dreamer. Kayla lives by the mantra of “the worst they can say is no!” *insert shrug emoji* and that has certainly served us and allowed us to take advantage of many amazing opportunities.
The story of how we ended up at The Nelle in the TUF Club space was largely based on luck! We were walking past after teaching a class at another gym and Olivia mentioned she’d seen it on Instagram. As we were peeking through the windows, one of the trainers, Ronnie, popped his head out of the third-story window and yelled down “Y’all wanna workout??” We yelled up and explained that we’d already worked out, but that we would be interested in seeing the space. We came up and told him our business dreams and he said “Hmm. This sounds pretty cool. Reach out to Jabari.” (Owner of the TUF Club). A few weeks later, we had our own Queen Vibes KC classes that we had complete autonomy over.
People have trusted our vision and felt the passion behind it, and while we don’t necessarily consider that luck, we feel lucky to have people in our corner who encourage us to be authentic and reach big.
- You can check our pricing, book a class, and stay up to date through their website!
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: queenvibeskc.com
- Instagram: @queenvibeskc