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Save Minnsky Theatre and ExFit

$49,071 of $250,000 goal

Raised by 458 people in 1 month
**UPDATE**  Thank you! We are so grateful for the outpouring of support from our communities in monetary contributions, offers of services, and in heartfelt cards, letters, and messages. We know that this community is worth fighting for and together we are making it happen, But we are NOT DONE YET #SparkleArmy! 

Our goal is to raise $100,000 by the end of November and reach our ultimate goal of $250,000 by the new year. We believe that together we can achieve this goal, but only if everyone joins the fight. Now is the time to talk to your Great Auntie Mildred, your friends, co-workers, and loved ones who may be able to help. If you know of someone who would be able to invest or loan more than $10,000 we would be interested in speaking with them about a partnership as we have high value incentives, services, and future growth opportunities to provide. Email us directly at minnskytheatre@gmail.com.

We hosted the Help Save Minnsky & ExFit Makers' Market at Minnsky Nov. 17 from 12:00 - 3:00 pm. We had everything from custom corsets provided by KMKDesigns(featured in Offbeat Bride) to make-up lessons from Luminous Beauty LLC (Three year winner of 'Best of' by The Knot), to delicious cakes from FoxCakes (beloved breakthrough bakery artist of Minneapolis). It was a smash sucess and raised over $3,000.

People asked and we are happy to announce that we will also be having a benefit show! Attitude of Gratitude- Minnsky & ExFit Benefit Show  will take place Saturday, Nov. 24 at 7:30pm. We are busy coordinating with talent who will be donating their performances, so look for cast announcements in our Facebook event.

Our accountants, business consultants, admins, instructors and theatre crew are exploring multiple avenues and working extra overtime to make all of this happen and #killthedebt. We want to assure you that the business itself is doing well. We are growing at a steady rate, ExperTease Fitness classes have increased by 15%, Minnsky is 85% booked for 2019 weekends and we have contracted to be a Fringe venue again next year. Once we are able to move past this hurdle, we are confident in the health of the organization.

We have raised over $37,000 so far and this was enough to green light the remainder of our season and open our ExFit December Workshops; but we still need our Sparkle Army to rise.

Attending Minnsky shows is a great way to have a fun evening out while supporting the theatre! Check out what shows will be happening for the remainder of 2018 Season. 

The ExperTease Fitness Black Friday sales are coming soon and be sure to check out our amazing December Workshops! 

The media is slowly picking up our story. The City Pages recently covered us here and MyNortheaster is setting an interview. We would LOVE more media coverage so please keep sharing.


Let's DO THIS Sparkle Friends
-ExFit and Minnsky Team


You can read our original epic saga here: 

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ORIGINAL STORY

You know people tell you “you are not supposed to talk about financial trouble as a business owner, keep up appearances in order to keep up customer confidence.” But I’ve never been a rule follower, you all are more than customers and the core team can’t fight this fight alone anymore. We didn’t want to just disappear, you all deserve to know before it’s too late and you deserve the chance to help. So we are saying: We need your help and we need it now.

If you wish to skip to the bottom line feel free, but I wanted people to know what happened, what this place means to me, and why I think it’s worth fighting for. 

The community we have built is an incredible place that has literally saved lives. We have had a profound impact on the greater Twin Cities, both because of our training studio ExperTease Fitness and performance space Minnsky Theatre. The two spaces are interconnected and interdependent. They feed each other as audience become students, students become performers, performers become audience etc.

This community is built on love and passion. I founded these two spaces based on my deeply held belief that performance, dance, and movement of the body in conjunction with the mind, is the most profound healing and joy filled experience a human is capable of.

It begins at the studio when a person joins us in moving their body to music, in a positive and accepting communal space (sometimes for the very first time in their life). We laugh, turn, flip, spin and fly together. We push each other to achieve more than we think possible and to let that growth shine on stage. To be literally in the spotlight, vulnerable in front of your peers, share your story and present yourself in a way that says, "this is me, do you see?" And to then be answered by applause quite literally changes the way a person sees themselves in this world. This has impacted so many people over our eight years. Our Google reviews and the testimonials we have received reflect that.

So how did it come to this?

I want to first address that everyone I have spoken to about this situation including my business consultants, trusted advisers and admin team are in agreement with me that I have made the best (and sometimes only choice possible) for the community each step of the way. This was a series of nearly insurmountable obstacles that we fought our way through but have also lead us to being in crushing debt. 

We are talking about predatory 25% interest loans with 6mo - 1 year terms (I’m sure the mob has better rates). This kind of debt is designed to keep you spiraling down, bleed you out and finally push you to break. And I’m heartbroken to say it has nearly succeeded.

So why did we ever take on that kind of debt?

Time Line

2010- I am 22, with no business experience, no real credit, no business loans but a hell of a dream. A place where people like me, survivors of rape, trauma, and body image issues can come to feel loved, fit and sexy. So my father took every penny he had saved for retirement and gave it to me to start this business. I bought poles, used mirrors, made mounting equipment, painted, installed flooring and signed a lease with a small dance studio in St. Paul. My classes went live on Groupon and I set up my Paypal account to give it a shot.

My first graduating class was 30 people including Hussy Hawtpants, and I met Akasha who was instructing Belly Dance at the same space. Our first class was hugely successful and people wanted more; we were excited.

Four months later, in February of 2012, we were informed that the dance studio we were renting from was going bankrupt and we had a week to leave. I was shocked but rather than giving up I worked every day from 8am to 2am to find a new space in near north Minneapolis, build all new pole mounting equipment, purchase new mirrors, move everything and continue classes.

2011 Our new space in “The Lofts” was a bit bigger, had nice windows and we managed to retain all our students despite the move. Akasha moved with us adding Belly Dance to my Pole and Burlesque classes. We also decided to add Aerial offerings that year. And we were excited.

Unfortunately our photography business neighbors were not nice people. They constantly complained to management about our music, hid our direction signs, were aggressive toward our students etc. Our Landlords were even worse, but they offered to move me to a 4th floor suite away from everyone else in the building for the same price but twice the room. We were doing well so I agreed. We knew we would need different shaped equipment for our new space so we packed everything up again, made new mounting equipment again, purchased more mirrors again and moved to the second suite at “The Lofts”.

2012 We were enjoying our new home as best we could. We ignored the roof leaks, constant construction and just had fun being together. However, later that year a church moved into the suite below us, which turned out to be our breaking point. They complained about us, harassed us and made it miserable to be there. We complained back and the Landlords became violently aggressive towards me personally for “causing problems.” I had to move us immediately, and so under police escort for my protection, I broke my lease and we left.

The new location we found on Washington Ave had higher ceilings and more room but it was a concrete box and a different shape than our last space. So we made all new mounts again, bought all new poles again, bought all new mirrors again, added flooring, painted everything, added lighting, etc. This was rough financially but we made it. So we were excited.

2013 This year we were completely stable financially, but we were running out of room quickly and our fledgling circus program desperately needed even higher ceilings. Students were flooding into the program, so we began to plan on how to expand.

2014 We acquired the suite next to us effectively doubling our physical size. This of course required another build out. And while we were financially stable, we still needed capital immediately to cover these build out expenses. Since no bank would help me being as young as I was, I took out my first Merchant Cash Advance loan. We built out the new space and we were excited.

2015 In order to keep up with demand for classes and to support our professional troupes as they gained popularity, we decided to expand even further into the upstairs suite. This again required build out, but we recognized the need to grow. So I took out my second MCA loan having paid back the first successfully. Things were going ok, despite the fact that the neighborhood seemed to be getting a little scarier. So we kept on.

We were working hard, gaining students and we had nearly outgrown our performance space at Ground Zero nightclub for the student showcases. The professional troupes were also having a tough time finding enough space to rent around town for our hugely successful show. We felt ready to make the leap to build our own performance space. (It had been the other half of my dream since I was three years old.) So I watched and waited until the perfect location became available, a space right on Central Ave. It was a rough space, but it was already a theatre, had all the licenses needed, was in the NE Arts District, and had free parking. We were excited.

2016 As we began to build out we gained our first Patroness Blair D, had a successful Kickstarter and took out our third MCA loan for more money. We calculated we had just enough to make this happen. Until we found out half way into the build out the previous theater company that operated at the space was operating completely illegally.

We were informed by the city we would have to get the whole space re-zoned and bring several projects up to code. We needed almost $250k more than our budget.

We decided we couldn't stop right in the middle, or we would lose all our investment, face court proceedings to break our new lease and still not have a performance space.  So I took on even more debt. More Merchant Cash Advance loans with 25% interest.

We managed to cobble enough money together from patrons, loans and donations, but we were carrying an extreme debt load. We ran numbers and we figured with just a little luck we would make it. We were excited.

We were doing well, selling out shows and we needed a bit more room for the casts at the theatre in addition to our small shop. So we took the opportunity to expand into Midnight room when it came up. This was small buildout we handled out of pocket. Things were on the upswing and we were excited.

Then the ExFit studio neighborhood took a dangerous nose dive. In the span of a year we had over 100 sexual harassment incidents and assaults on our staff and students by other groups in the area. Broken car windows, catcalling, being followed, groped, physically assaulted and abused. We hired security, walked in pairs, complained to the police, but the threats were overwhelming. It was our breaking point.

We had to stop advertising because we didn’t want to risk even more people getting injured. We had to move the studio as fast as humanly possible. We were losing students every day, 30% of our income had disappeared and we were still trying to recover from the theatre construction. All while attempting to make our fledgling theatre space work and keep up classes with our loyal veteran students.  

We had no choice; we had to protect our people or call it quits on everything we had built and fought for, so we moved the studio again. We ended the year $200k in the hole.  

2017 We found the perfect location to move ExFit, right across the street from the theatre in an active arts building. This space was beautiful, safe, and the size we had always truly needed. We were excited

At the same time, we had to move all our props into a storage space as they were getting ruined in the basement of the old ExFit. We had the opportunity to take over the industrial Sparkle Shop and we took it. We negotiated for several months rent free, and believe that having room to organize everything and store set pieces will save us a lot of money in the long run. We also have plans to monetize the space for extra rehearsal room, photo studio and to rent our set pieces and costumes once they are organized.

However, the move and build out of the new ExFit cost around $300k. We needed all new equipment again, all new mirrors again, flooring, poles, paint, labor, electrical, walls, etc etc. We also ended up have to fight the city to get it re zoned which was unexpected and costly. Our Patroness helped as much as she could and we had a successful Kickstarter, but it simply wasn’t enough.

Between trying to recover from the previous year’s losses on the theatre, losing ExFit business, expanding at the theatre and the new ExFit build out we ran out of money. So I took out every loan I could, no matter what the terms. I didn’t want to see it all die.

 
2018 Now we have the spaces we have always dreamed of. We are in the perfect location. We have regained much of the business we lost and are now entering into a growth spurt. Our participation in Fringe Festival put Minnsky on the map as a unique entertainment space. We have gained a very good reputation and we have so many profitable projects coming to fruition, but we still have the debt.

Our team has spent the entire year trying to fix the financial situation. We have:

·         Reached out to investors and found two more generous souls in VaVa Vashti and Perry Wink. Without them we would not have made it this far.

·         Reached out to commercial Sponsors.

·         Launched the first of our online ExFit classes- Chair Dance.

·         Filmed 60% of our Pole program and 50% of our flexibility program.

·         Have negotiated for filming Belly Dance and Burlesque classes.

·         Launched our Minnsky Memberships.

·         Hustled to book the theatre to near 100% capacity.

·         Worked 14 hour days, every day, to improve our infrastructure, classes, admin and shows.

·         Contracted with new marketing people for both ExFit and Minnsky.

·         Formed a business relationship with SCORE mentoring and have two amazing business consultants.

·         Have joined NEMMA, Minnesota Theatre Alliance, Twin cities Fitness Studios, and are looking into Class Pass.

·         Begun the huge task of re-examining all our books.

·         Have begun searching for a new accountant.

·         Continuing to reach out to commercial lenders to consolidate debt.

·         Worked to regain a great reputation for ExFit and continue our building of community presence for Minnsky.

 

We are so close to breaking through to being a seven figure business. This is a completely viable company with a hugely successful growth rate.

Our Established Income Streams or Monetized Projects Include:  

·  Minnsky Theater Shows- Our 2018 calendar is fully booked and our 2019 calendar is already 85% booked. Our income and network has more than doubled in 2yrs and continues to grow. We hold an average 4.8 star rating for our in house productions and bookings in our space. 

·  Minnsky Theatre Beer and Wine- We have a fully functioning bar that allows for us to sell concessions, non alcoholic drinks and beer/wine. This greatly adds to the Minnsky Theatre income. 

·  Minnsky Show Sponsorship- We have established a rapport with several local businesses who sponsor on a show by show basis for $25-$100 a run. Our hope is to cultivate these relationships into yearly sponsorship.

·  ExperTease Fitness Classes- We have seen an increase in course registration and have expanded to new demographics with the location change. We have both skill based courses and drop in fitness classes.  

·  ExperTease Fitness Studio Rental- We rent out our facility in the off hours to instructors, performers and other fitness programs. We are continuing to seek day time rentals.

·  Outside Performances- Our professional troupes are often solicited for corporate events outside of our Minnsky productions. We have been hired by the Minnesota State Fair, Aria Event Center, several Minneapolis night clubs, corporate conventions and private parties. 

Newly Launched Income Streams or Monetized Projects Include:

·  ExperTease Fitness Online- We are converting our highly successful Alternative Fitness courses to an online streaming lessons site. This can be used to supplement in person training and for those who live too far away from our studio to experience our fitness brand. 

·  Minnsky Memberships- Our audiences at Minnsky theatre can become sustaining members through our membership program. We have fantastic rewards including tickets and name plaques on our bricks.

·  Sparkle Shop Studios- Our onsite creative studio that serves as our theatrical design center and a rentable space for Pinup, Alternative and Commercial photo and video shoots. We have launched a Facebook page, Instagram and website. Our community is very excited for this resource and we have already received our first inquires. We have also sent our information to over 50 local pinup and commercial photographers in town.

 

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Bottom Line

Despite everything, all the thousands of hours of work, heart and love- despite heading into the Holiday season with our planned membership drives, Black Friday sales, Yule Ball, Fundraiser Gala, sold out season and workshops- despite having launched our global online classes website and being well on our way to launch Pole Dance and Flexibility training in addition to Chair Dance-none of that can combat the math of the crushing debt. We can no longer sustain paying $18,000 per month on loan payments. We need help and we need it now.

We will be out of money in 14 days. Once that happens, it sets off a chain reaction of defaulting on loans. Once that happens, they come for and take everything. My LLC will go bankrupt, and the Banks and Landlords will fight it out over all hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment until there is nothing left. This means no more ExFit classes, no more Minnsky Shows, no more Wicked Wenches Cabaret, No more ExperTeasers.

This however is not a completely hopeless situation. We have the power within this community to fix it but we have to raise at least $250K and we need to do it right now.

$250k will give us enough money to pay off the really bad debt (not all but the worst of it at $150k) and give us stabilizing money for a few months.

$500k would get us out of the woods completely and give us security for this whole next year. By which time I calculate all of those launched projects will come to financial fruition and we can enjoy a secure, strong community.  

If everyone who has been affected positively by this community raises just $100 we would blow past even that $500k goal. There are 6,000 people on our newsletters, over 7,000 on ExFit FB page, over 2000 on the Minnsky FB page, and over 2,000 in our student groups and that’s just the people we can track.

We know these spaces have saved lives, brought joy, and mean more than words can describe to the people who call this Sparkle community family. It is so much more than a business, but at the end of the day if we are going to stay open we need financial help. Now is the time we have to band together, or it will all be gone.

 
What we already know will not work:

·         Selling our inventory. Our inventory or “assets” are backing our loans. We need those assets to try to get a consolidation loan. We also would only receive pennies on the dollar if we could even find a buyer.

·         The theatre becoming a nonprofit. Just this year we have lost Intermedia Arts, Red Eye Theatre and NEEMA is on the brink. Becoming a nonprofit is a very involved year long process that require a huge amount of oversight. Grants are becoming more and more limited and the nonprofit model ultimately does not work. Also the changes in the tax code as of 2018 make it so there is no difference between donating to for or nonprofit for individuals.

·         SBA loan- we already have two and the amount they are willing to give us is not enough even if we could get them to give us any more. (these loans are not the issue and have very reasonable sustainable rates)  

·         Negotiating rent at ExFit- Our Thorpe Building Landlord has made it clear there is no room for any more negotiation.

·         Cutting staff- we already run our skeleton crew ragged. We need more help not less.

·         Cutting classes- All classes we run are at least a little profitable. Some money is better than no money.


What the admin team and I are doing to save our community: 

·         Negotiating rent with our Theatre/Sparkle Shop Landlords who are open to helping us. They have indicated they do not want to see us fail and that they care a lot about making it work.

·         Trying to negotiate with our merchant Cash Advance Lenders

·         Speaking with commercial lenders to try to consolidate the debt.

·         Reaching out to more investors including angel investors.

·         Pushing our video site, holiday class sales across all platforms and pushing our holiday performance season hard.

·         Donating our working hours.

·         Selling personal items.

·         Telling you all the truth before it’s too late.

 

Thank you for listening to me today. On a personal note I love you all more than words can say and I’m so sorry that I couldn’t do enough to avoid this situation. I have done and am continuing to do my very best.

It’s up to ALL of us now and I have hope. If you can donate, do it. If you know someone who can donate, please tell them about us. If you know of investors, venture capitalists, commercial sponsors, organizations etc. who can help please email MinnskyTheatre@gmail.com.  

We have started a GoFundMe page, you can see the link below. In a world where there are those trying to take everything away from us this is one battle we can win. I believe in this community, I believe in the Universe and I believe in love.

 

Thank You
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With your support we made it to Black Friday weekend! We have amazing deals running all week! We hope some of you will join us as we strive toward the new year! https://www.experteasefitness.com/black-friday-deals.html

We still have a fight ahead of us, but we are strong, passionate and supported by an amazing community.

Get 25% OFF Level 1 Courses.

Get 15% off multi course package PLUS PERKS!

GET 20% off the ExFit mega pack PLUS 4 SHOWCASE TICKETS

It's time to fly, flip, spin and laugh in these inclusive, fun and empowering alternative fitness courses!

Gain strength, flexibility and body confidence in our Silks, Aerial Hoop, Trapeze or Rope courses. Learn in positive environment from our expert instructors. All bodies, gender expressions and ages 18+ welcome. Join us today!
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A HUGE thank you to everyone who came out to support! We are so grateful, there are not enough words. The numbers are still coming in and we are right now at over $3,000!

Giant thank you to Perry Wink, VaVa Vashti, Gigi Chaton, Harley Synn, Red Rider, Silky Sundew, Candlelora for organizing and all our amazing volunteers!

To our vendors, your incredible generosity is making such a difference. You are foundational members of this sparkle community and we can't thank you enough for your kindness.

Please continue to SHARE SHARE SHARE! We are almost half way to our first goal but we still have a long way to go!

We have our Attitude of Gratitude Benefit show coming up this next Saturday November 24th! So if you are in town and want to experience our community first hand while supporting get your tickets at Minnsky.com!
+ Read More
We are so excited to be entering into our next phase of this fight to #killthedebt with our amazing Sparkle Army backing us!

Here is an updated video outlining our goals, answering questions and working for the future!
+ Read More
Thank you! We are so grateful for the outpouring of support from our communities in monetary contributions, offers of services, and in heartfelt cards, letters, and messages. We know that this community is worth fighting for and together we are making it happen, But we are NOT DONE YET #SparkleArmy!

Our goal is to raise $100,000 by the end of November and reach our ultimate goal of $250,000 by the new year. We believe that together we can achieve this goal, but only if everyone joins the fight. Now is the time to talk to your Great Auntie Mildred, your friends, co-workers, and loved ones who may be able to help. If you know of someone who would be able to invest or loan more than $10,000 we would be interested in speaking with them about a partnership as we have high value incentives, services, and future growth opportunities to provide. Email us directly at minnskytheatre@gmail.com.

We will be hosting Help Save Minnsky & ExFit Makers' Market at Minnsky Nov. 17 from 12:00 - 3:00 pm. Stock up on early Christmas gifts or a treat for yourself! All monies earned will go to support the theatre. We will have everything from custom corsets provided by KMKDesigns(featured in Offbeat Bride) to make-up lessons from Luminous Beauty LLC (Three year winner of 'Best of' by The Knot), to delicious cakes from FoxCakes (beloved breakthrough bakery artist of Minneapolis).

People asked and we are happy to announce that we will also be having a benefit show! Attitude of Gratitude- Minnsky & ExFit Benefit Show will take place Saturday, Nov. 24 at 7:30pm. We are busy coordinating with talent who will be donating their performances, so look for cast announcements in our Facebook event.

Our accountants, business consultants, admins, instructors and theatre crew are exploring multiple avenues and working extra overtime to make all of this happen and #killthedebt. We want to assure you that the business itself is doing well. We are growing at a steady rate, ExperTease Fitness classes have increased by 15%, Minnsky is 85% booked for 2019 weekends and we have contracted to be a Fringe venue again next year. Once we are able to move past this hurdle, we are confident in the health of the organization.

We have raised over $37,000 so far and this was enough to green light the remainder of our season and open our ExFit December Workshops; but we still need our Sparkle Army to rise.

Attending Minnsky shows is a great way to have a fun evening out while supporting the theatre! Check out what shows will be happening for the remainder of 2018 Season.

The ExperTease Fitness Black Friday sales are coming soon and be sure to check out our amazing December Workshops!

The media is slowly picking up our story. The City Pages recently covered us here and MyNortheaster is setting an interview. We would LOVE more media coverage so please keep sharing.


Let's DO THIS Sparkle Friends
-ExFit and Minnsky Team
+ Read More
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$49,071 of $250,000 goal

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