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Navigating Growth and Embracing Change: The Future of Align Ballet Method by founder Michael Cornell

This week, I want to discuss the current state and future direction of the Align Ballet Method. Over the past decade, our journey has been characterized by continuous evolution. Our path has not been straightforward, but it has consistently moved upward and to the right. From the very beginning, there was an overwhelming demand for our services, and I was fortunate to stand at the forefront of it. Through strategic decisions, we have not only built a successful business but also established a strong brand.

We now find ourselves at a critical juncture, which is not inherently negative. Often, challenges lead to improvement. If there’s one thing we’ve proven over the years, it’s that our team is incredibly resilient. The people who form the foundation of our work are our greatest asset.

As of June 2024, one significant setback we faced was the closure of our North Hollywood studio, which was a deeply sad event and a blow to our community. However, adversity often forces us to ask essential questions. This particular challenge prompted me to reflect on the future direction of our company.

My intention is to continue our mission of bringing adult ballet to everyone who desires it. I truly love what we do and the community we have built. Our process and brand have been thoroughly tested and proven effective. Organizationally, we function as a well-oiled machine. However, I have come to realize that managing the financial growth of this company alone is no longer feasible. It’s a disservice to our community, brand, and potential to think otherwise.

Therefore, I plan to raise investment capital to fund the proper expansion and growth of our organization. The issue is not our financial health; we have always been profitable and fiscally responsible. The need is for funds to expand properly and for strategic partners who can assist us along the way.

The Align Ballet Method has grown far beyond one individual’s contribution. My primary obligation is to serve our community and navigate the brand forward to benefit as many people as possible. My goal is to secure capital to enhance the quality of our brand, secure locations in our current community, and then expand into new locations outside of Southern California. We are beyond the point of subletting space from other studios; we need to control our destiny.

The vision is to build 1,000 to 1,500 square-foot studios that ensure the highest quality experience. In 2022 and 2023, Align Ballet Method experienced a 35% growth rate each year. In 2024, we have achieved a 25% growth rate so far. Simply as a business, we have performed exceptionally well due to the amazing efforts of our talented staff, and we have reached a point of needing a larger team administratively and financially. It will take a team.

Ideally, I envision a few select experienced investors who will provide both capital and strategic assistance. Potential investors should be deeply committed to our mission and community. Investing in the Align Ballet Method means believing in and supporting our culture.

For over a decade, we have been methodically perfecting our process and business foundation behind the scenes. Align was launched in the heyday of hyper-growth start-up capital mania, and I always resisted this route, knowing we were not ready; there were more things to discover.

Sadly, many players in the boutique fitness space have come and gone, sometimes due to hubris, or incompetence, but most often simple burnout. This is not an easy business. Align has survived because we create deep, loyal connections with our students. We are more than just exercise; we are a sanctuary for our students, a place where they can decompress. In many ways, we provide a form of mental health therapy. Our mission must continue and expand.

I have always envisioned building something lasting, something that could endure for generations. I am inspired by people like Bernard Arnault of LVMH, who bought Dior and built a dynasty of quality brands. LVMH recently spent 500 million dollars to renovate its flagship store in Paris. While we don’t need to spend that much to build a studio in the valley, but I would like the proper resources to seriously upgrade your experience.

Recently, I listened to an interview with Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks, and found many similarities between Starbucks and Align Ballet Method. Like Starbucks, our growth has been organic, driven by customer demand rather than extensive marketing. The demand for our product often exceeds our capacity, indicating a clear path for growth. We have continuously heard comments such as, “I wish there was an ALIGN studio in my area.”

I sincerely thank all of you for your loyal support, and to those who reached out during this recent crisis, you have provided me incredible motivation.

In summary, the closure of our North Hollywood studio is simply another speed bump on our journey. We are an incredibly resilient company with a loyal following, and we will continue to grow and improve. The future of Align Ballet Method is bright, and with the right support and investment, we will reach new heights. I look forward to seeing you there!


Michael Cornell

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