Every entrepreneur has their own unique origin story, and Kika Stretch Studios founder Hakika Wise is no different.
When Wise came up with the idea to start her own stretch studio back in 2011, she was down to her last $500 to her name from a tax return, Earn Your Leisure reports. Despite facing financial hardships, the New jersey native took a leap of faith and decided to go into business for herself.
During a 2019 interview with Rolling Out, Wise explained the reason why she chose her particular career path, stating “I wanted to do something that others weren’t doing, so I started the stretch studio industry.”
At the time, Wise says she realized there were no other stretch studios in existence so she created and patented the heart of her business model, “The Kika Method” — described as “a form of passive stretching in which an external force exerts upon the limb to move it into the new position,” according to Black Enterprise.
That allowed her to then expand her business with 12 additional locations in states such as Georgia, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, California, and North Carolina — turning it into a full-blown franchise.
“I originally wanted to keep the business small, but when I saw how big the interest was, I changed my mind,” she told Black Enterprise.
She went on to become the youngest female franchisor in the nation and ten years later she’s still managing her very successful business.
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This time last year when the pandemic first hit, Wise found herself in the same position as many other business owners who were forced to shut down to abide by social distancing rules.
According to The Daily Record, all 13 of Wise’s studios were temporarily closed during the first three months of the pandemic, but she managed to find a way to reach her clients while everyone was still home-bound.
Once we realized that quarantine was going to be our new normal, we all discovered the practices of stretching and fitness were needed now more than ever with people stuck working from home in non-work settings — and even living at work if you will. This is how Wise was able to pivot her business to comply with in-person restrictions and keep the momentum going.
“I realized the world stopped during this time. So there was an opportunity to expand at a lower cost and people were willing to negotiate now more than ever,” Wise told The Daily Record. “Once I started to focus on the ability to help people during this time it got better for me. We help people feel better. That’s why we are still able to thrive in business but it’s still scary because you don’t what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
While Wise found it difficult to find success last year during such unprecedented times, she shared with The Daily Record that her self-discipline, passion, support system and roots all helped her push through.
What kept her going through the pandemic wasn’t the pressure of saving her studios from a business standpoint, it was her old and new clients that motivated her.
“New clients tell me how this changed their life, that’s motivating. It’s about them, not me,” she said. “So, now is the time to do the things you always wanted to but were afraid to. Although it’s a scary time, it’s a good time.”
As one of the few Black franchisors in the country, Wise sees to it that her studios inspires other Black and women of color to find the courage to branch out on their own and lead the charge as self-made entrepreneurs.
Through all the ups and downs that Wise has experienced as a founder, she’s proud to have blazed a trail as inspiring as hers.
For more information about Kika Stretch Studios, visit its website.