So I’m sharing my entrepreneurial journey from, from coming from Hawaii to New York City and then traveling all of the boroughs and a crazy ride of basically living in rooms with no windows to rooms that weren’t really rooms, but at least had a wall. And in the South Bronx too, living in China town with a living room with no wall. So it couldn’t get worse probably.
But then I, you know, I found I ended up kind of getting the stable place I was living with my boyfriend and we were living in Queens, east Elmhurst. So not even like a hip area. Not that anything’s wrong with that, but you basically, I had to take a bus to get to the subway to get to the city. So it was a good hour, 45 minutes just to be safe, kind of ride.
By living there, I was able to save a lot of money and I just started to teach tennis lessons. So I got a job at Sutton East Tennis Club, teaching tennis lessons during the winter when it would be impossible to find outdoor location to teach. And so during that time I was calling places to find places to offer tennis lessons. And I was looking, I was trying to go after the youth tennis so I could do indoor gyms looking for tennis courts, indoor courts courts on top of a roof. Courts anywhere.
And I found a place in Gramercy park. It’s crazy. It was a city park and it was, there was tennis lines and holes, but, and, and the holes weren’t really there, it seems. So what we do is we actually got a cinder block and we filled it with cement. And then we put the tennis net in there, made out of PVC. And then I think we initially started off with like this green fencing net, this plastic one that you can get from home depot.
And we would drive. So me and my boyfriend would drive to the city. We’d put the net up and then I would teach the tennis lesson. And this was a park. So not really with grass, but just the park with like basketball and baseball.
So right behind the tennis court was like people playing cricket and remember we’d kind of get into like, not scuffles with them, but kind of say like, “Hey, like watch out, we’re playing tennis here”. And they wanted to play cricket. So it was really stressful trying to make sure we got the court before other people did, but it was such a great location and people would come up to me all the time about wanting to take tennis lessons and I was able to charge like $75.
It was amazing. I was, and I was able to make money and see how I could create a business off of it and hire instructors. So that was a great location. And then I found my single location in lower east side, but let me run to their gym to do a youth mini tennis and then got many tennis nets.
And then the big thing is, is I got this one place called it’s St Patrick’s old cathedral. I remember this place well. And this guy named Chris, really Nice Guy, but he, I swear he reminded me, the guy from the Simpsons — Ned I think — but really nice guy. And you know, they let me rent it because they weren’t doing anything with the gym.
And I was like, oh, amazing location. And I had a pretty big space and there wasn’t that many columns, which was the problem. And I remember the crazy thing was, was I think I was, I think it was the start of the first season, and it might’ve been the fall and the fall was a big time for, for youth activities because everyone plan their activities and they try to get in.
So I remember just like, just in the nick of time ordering this huge tennis net and it may mean it was huge. Like where you, you could, is a real tennis net and they had poles this thick. And the width of a full tennis net and and I think, the thickness of the pole was like three or four, three inches. Okay. Three inches in diameter. So that’s how thick the poles were. I ordered two of them, I think.
And like I, I didn’t even know what these tennis nets looked like. I had them delivered by freight straight to this cathedral. Like, it literally came in the day of the first lesson and I like, we, it turned out we didn’t even need all the poles, so it would only use two of the poles and we’d set it up every time and they’d let us store it in the stage. And it was just, it worked out perfectly. I mean, just by luck, because then that’s where great. And then I would put even two kids’ lessons on one half court. It was just, it was a great location and we did a lot of tennis lessons there.
And then another, another pivotal place we did was upper west side and Columbus circle. And, and I could not, like, I knew there was a tennis court there, but I could not for the life of me get the person who’s in charge of the facilities to respond to me.
So I would call her and email and call her. I look her up on the directory and leave messages and like, you know, one day I was like, you know what, I’m just going to sneak into the building. So it was like literally John Jay College of criminal justice and I would literally just like you’re supposed to check in, but I think I just walked right in, went to her office and I was like, “Hey, we’ve been well, you know, I’ve been calling you about thistennis court we want to rent”. And to my surprise, she was, “oh, hey yeah, I got your messages”. I was like, “Oh, you did? Oh, of course. Yeah, of course. Right, right, right, right. Okay”. And she was like, all right, well, you know, and, and she let me rent it out as a fair price. And that was a great location.
So, I mean from there we just added more locations that we could, but those were the best ones. Really. But then we also started to do some indoor tennis at schools and then we did summer camp, which is really big, but so much work. It was so much work. It was kind of just a lot of stressful. But that was a huge money maker.
There was just so much demand in the city. And we did search engine optimization and all that stuff. But the fact is is that people wanted our product and it was just about making sure we get it to them and making sure everybody showed up on all the college kids. I had a higher or post Grad college students I hired, would show up on Saturday morning instead of like sleeping in cause they probably went out.
That was the hardest thing and making sure all of the facilities were open and making sure everyone was there on time. And it was just so hard. So I just remember coming home to Hawaii and just looking at my sister and just bursting into tears just by how much overwhelmed I was because it was a, it was, it’s a recreational a service meaning like, you know, you have to be available on the weekends, on the evenings, in the morning and during the day there’s no business hours for it.
And I just was so overwhelmed and I just knew I needed to get out. But even then, you know, it took time. I had, you know, I had, we had hired a couple of major general managers. It just took a long time. So I ended up having Mike, who was my boyfriend at the time –I mean, who, or I think we broke up, but we were friends — and he was, he knew all about the business. I ended up having him run the business until the leases ended. Cause B had leases with the city — side note, we had a lease at McCarren Park in Williamsburg — and that was a fantastic location.
So I think the, thing is, is we would do locations and, and we would offer the same awesome tennis lessons, but I could see how location, like, not because of if the service was different, but just purely on location, how certain locations just did way better than others. And, and it was such a good experience and seeing that people just wanted the service, it was a product people wanted and in that right location and that I could see that, you know, if I could have put the same amount of effort in like a place that was a little farther out, for example, once we got into a few stops off from the city, we just didn’t have as much central demand. And, and I think, you know, like you’re farther from the train stop. It was just harder.
So the biggest thing I need to take from that is just that location matters. Where you are matters. And it’s not just the product, but it’s that fit of location and product. And so sometimes I shouldn’t take it personally if I created an amazing product, but it’s just in the wrong location, or the audience is just not right.
So that’s my takeaway. And that was my story with Bumblebee tennis. It was an amazing time and I just loved, I loved that business. But it just had come time for me to try something different.
So my next podcast, I’m going to talk about Alana life and fitness. My next chapter and you know, me and getting into publishing and podcasts.
So look forward to talking to you then.