My wife Sam and I moved to Beacon two years ago when I was nearly halfway through my pregnancy. We were expecting our first child, but had another baby on our minds, too: our own boutique fitness studio. We found a small business mentor and met him in Poughkeepsie a few times through summer and fall. At each meeting, my belly was rounder, my gait more of a waddle. He and Sam worked on the business plan as I sipped decaf coffee and nibbled pastries.
We had our sights set on Main Street in Beacon, a strip of town that was evolving, growing ever more popular with tourists and city transplants like ourselves. We wanted to open a boxing and indoor cycling studio, with a smoothie bar up front. Though we moved to the Hudson Valley for a small-town, pastoral lifestyle, we missed specialized, boutique fitness. We had no professional experience in the fitness industry, and neither of us had ever run our own business. Still, we wanted a place like this on Main Street, and we were determined to create it.
Not only is starting a new business a major gamble, but we wanted to start one in a town where we had no history, no safety net, and few friends. I quietly hoped that this business would help us find a sense of belonging here.
“We have no idea what we’re doing,” I’d mutter in the car on our way to a meeting.
“This is going to work,” Sam would say. “I know it is.”
Through that first year we became regular Main Street customers; I met moms-to-be at prenatal yoga, and we bought books, stationery, jeans, and bread in the shops we passed. We frequented the Sunday farmers’ market, devoured meals in restaurants up and down Main Street, and finalized our business plan during long afternoons in one of the many coffee shops. I sipped my first post-partum cocktail in Beacon bars, and nursed the baby in local breweries. We came out of our comfort zones and struck up conversations around town. When we divulged our plans to our new neighbors, they were supportive, welcoming, and even excited.
Our vision was to open a fitness studio that would appeal to our neighbors, not just the tourists and the newcomers, but the ones who were born and raised here. This is their town, and we’re thrilled to call it home. Now when they walk through the doors of our business, or we stop into our favorite local spots, we recognize faces, share family news, and exchange weather updates.
At our loan closing, our son Quinn dropped Cheerios all over the carpet. He cried during our ribbon-cutting with the Beacon Chamber of Commerce. He straddled my hip as I helped clients adjust their bikes on one of our first Saturday afternoons, when we were without childcare. “It’s a family business,” we shrugged, laughing.
We have two babies in the Hudson Valley: Quinn, who is now almost a year and a half, and The Studio @ Beacon, a family business run by two moms, where we come to support the members of our community, and where they — without even realizing it — come to support us.
Laura Leigh Abby is the co-owner of The Studio @ Beacon. She is always on the lookout for a new Hudson Valley restaurant or hiking trail.