… You have to know your industry like the back of your hand. Do the research, and learn the ins and outs of what makes your business tick. If you’re looking to start your own business, take the time to research the market and find a gap that your company could fill.
Today, more than ever, wellness is at the forefront of societal discussions. From mental health to physical well-being, women are making significant strides in bringing about change, introducing innovative solutions, and setting new standards. Despite facing unique challenges, they break barriers, inspire communities, and are reshaping the very definition of health and wellness. In this series called women in wellness we are talking to women doctors, nurses, nutritionists, therapists, fitness trainers, researchers, health experts, coaches, and other wellness professionals to share their stories and insights. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Maxine Bascue.
Founder of a world-class Pilates hot spot, Be Kind Studios, as well as celebrity-loved luxury loungewear line MASONgrey, Maxine Bascue is a wellness fanatic who has proven her expertise in entrepreneurship in LA’s oversaturated fashion and fitness industries. As a wife and mother of two, Maxine’s successful businesses have been founded out of self-need. Made to encapsulate what other boutique studios lack, Maxine’s latest venture, Be Kind Studios, offers an amazing full body workout for all experience-levels, aesthetically-pleasing design, cleanliness, and most importantly — top-tier customer experience.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I always knew I wasn’t going to follow a “traditional” career path. I didn’t go to college — school was just never really for me. After working countless jobs like bottle service, installing hair extensions, and making cakes at Cold Stone Creamery, I wanted to pursue something I was truly passionate about. I was confident I had a deep understanding of the fashion industry after years of experience working in sales, production, and fit modeling for clothing companies and sensed there was a gap in the loungewear market. I envisioned a line of cute, sexy, but comfortable robes and loungewear that felt luxurious. While working as a sales rep for Unite Haircare, I worked up the courage to bring my vision to life and founded MASONgrey as a side project.
With limited startup capital, I made robes in small batches of around 20 pieces at a time with the money I made in my day job, using deadstock fabric. While I trusted that my designs were unique, I knew my options for reaching potential customers were limited. I saw the potential in leveraging local farmers’ markets as our initial sales channel to utilize the intimate, face-to-face interactions to my advantage.
The farmers’ markets became the launchpad for MASONgrey. Alongside our physical presence at these markets, I did major outreach through social media, building brand recognition and trust. Eventually, Nordstrom took notice of our unique products and approached us. This unexpected opportunity validated the brand and propelled MASONgrey to a new level of exposure and growth.
Eventually, the loungewear industry became very saturated very quickly. I dreaded the idea of seeing my small, made-in-Los Angeles business sacrifice on quality and decided it was time to explore new creative avenues. At the time, I just had my second baby and was looking to get back in shape. I attended countless Pilates studios in my area and was underwhelmed. I craved a fitness experience that was more elevated and one that could challenge anyone, at any experience level, in any class.
While the acquisition process of MASONgrey was very much underway in mid-2022, I played around with the idea of opening a Pilates studio as my next venture. I ran the numbers, consulted my trusted advisor — my husband — and set specific goals to ensure its viability. It was a leap into the unknown, but it was also very exciting. Quickly after, I brought my vision to life and Be Kind Studios was up and running.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
The way Be Kind Studios came about is one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever been through. It felt like the opportunity fell into my lap. I was in the midst of selling my first business and while I knew I had a real passion for Pilates, opening a brick-and-mortar studio was completely uncharted territory for me and initially was something I joked about with my family and friends. The more I thought about it, the more the ideas started churning in my mind. Within two hours of conceptualizing the idea, I knew the name of the studio and found a rough and ready space where I could envision building my next venture. Within a week, the lease had been signed and I sold MASONgrey. After three months and much construction, Be Kind Studios was open for business.
My main takeaway from this whirlwind experience is to trust your gut — especially as an entrepreneur. While I was initially unsure as to how I’d build this business and make it successful, I followed my intuition and it quickly felt like this was something I was meant to do. The space I found, while not perfect, offered all the basic necessities I needed for the perfect Pilates studio I dreamt of having and I jumped on the opportunity. I’m so grateful in those moments of fear and doubt that I trusted my gut and didn’t brush off the strong intuition I felt that Pilates might just be the next adventure I had been looking for.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
In the early days of Be Kind Studios, I had countless ideas of the elevated boutique fitness experience I wanted to curate. I conceptualized our branded coffee machine where guests could enjoy a complimentary pick-me-up after class, the limewash finish on the studio walls, a marble front desk, and I loved it. My ideas were endless, and I was set on creating this luxurious experience I had missed out on at other studios. In this initial creative process, I brought an infrared sauna pod into the space as a way to differentiate the studio and set it apart. Quickly after, I realized this was not the right fit and didn’t add to the studio in the way I thought it would. It felt like a waste of space and of capital and I knew that I had made a mistake. I eventually removed the sauna pod and made that space our private studio room for one-on-one Pilates sessions which proved to be a much more fruitful way to monetize the space.
Throughout this process, I learned the importance of being intentional with my ideas and how to rein in my creativity. The experience taught me that I didn’t need to have countless unique elements to elevate my studio — I could curate the space in a thoughtful way that made our studio stand out while also generating value and revenue.
Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
My main goal throughout the creation of Be Kind Studios was to put a strong emphasis on building relationships and a sense of community. From the onset of the studio, I vowed to never allow my employees to rely on self-check-in. I’ve made it a point to train each of my employees to single out every guest who walks in the door — whether that be through remembering their name or staying after class to enjoy a free coffee or matcha with our guests and getting to know a bit more about them. As the owner / founder, I’ve also made a conscious decision to take a very hands-on approach with my business. I want my members to know who I am and know that I care about their fitness journey as well as what happens once they leave our studio. A community isn’t built in a day, but through conscious efforts to engage our customers in comfortable conversation and allowing them to take each class movement by movement, working out at Be Kind Studios isn’t a chore. For many, it’s what gets them out of bed in the morning. I’d like to think I’ve made an impact in my community by creating a fitness experience that people are proud to be a part of — not just to benefit their own health and wellness, but to connect with one another throughout our unique life journeys and feel comfortable being unapologetically themselves.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?
1 . Work-Life balance is crucial: Separating my professional life from my personal life has been key for me. Since I founded my business, I’ve had to fight the urge to spend all my time focusing on my career and pouring all my energy into the studio. Not only does prioritizing work life balance help to boost my wellbeing, but it ensures that I can spend time with my family and friends, pursue other interests, and take time for myself.
2 . Prioritize sleep: Getting the appropriate 7–8 hours of sleep each night is so important for your physical and mental wellbeing. Even though it’s not always possible, I try to ensure I get to sleep early so I can run the studio, take care of my kids, and have some time for myself as well.
3 . Healthy Diet: It may sound obvious, but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to eat a nutritious diet and drink a ton of water every day. As a first step in my morning routine, I’ll always drink a large glass of water to hydrate my body and kick start my day.
4 . Physical Activity: Again, this may sound obvious but moving your body in some way each day is such a game changer. Even more important than just working out is finding a workout that you can enjoy. My entire fitness journey changed when I discovered Pilates — I didn’t dread working out, in fact I was excited and looked forward to that special time in the day that I could work to better myself. Furthering your knowledge on what’s right for you and your body is essential in pursuing better wellbeing.
5 . Stress Management: Life as a business owner is rarely stress free. It’s so important to find ways to keep yourself calm and grounded in moments of high stress. For me, just keeping a daily to-do list of tasks I need to get done vs. tasks I’d like to get done if I can, is a way I can be productive while under a lot of stress and not put too much pressure on myself.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I really think this goes back to my earlier point that we should all strive to find a form of physical activity that we enjoy and can look forward to doing each day. This idea is the essence behind Be Kind Studios. I’ve always hoped to build a wide community of Pilates lovers who not only can enjoy a great workout at my studio but find human connections as well. I hope through expanding our locations in the future, we can create a “movement” of sorts where newcomers and Pilates experts alike can come together, stay active, get out of their comfort zone, and enjoy one another’s company.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- People management is tough. With my studio, it’s a constant effort to accommodate everyone. As every business owner knows, it’s impossible to keep every single customer happy every step of the way, but when mistakes do happen, it’s important to make them right and learn from them.
- You need to have thick skin. Hard days are inevitable, and in order to get through them, I had to learn to stand my ground, have a backbone, and stand up for what I know is right.
- Manage your time wisely. Our days are finite and extremely valuable so make the most of them. You can’t build your business in a day, but small steps can lead to big changes, and you never know what tomorrow might bring.
- Trust yourself and your intuition. While I can definitely feel inspired by others and appreciate their advice, other people’s success is not a huge source of motivation for me. It’s crucial that you trust yourself and follow your gut. Many people throughout my career have doubted my creative ideas and told me I had to do something a certain way to be successful. Success looks different for everyone — put your trust in yourself and not the words of someone else who hasn’t walked in your shoes.
- You have to know your industry like the back of your hand. Do the research, and learn the ins and outs of what makes your business tick. If you’re looking to start your own business, take the time to research the market and find a gap that your company could fill.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Mental health is very important to me as the owner of a fitness studio. I’ve experienced firsthand the impact consistent physical activity can have on my mental wellbeing. It’s even more gratifying to hear the stories from my customers whose lives have changed after finding Be Kind Studios. Exercise is proven to reduce anxiety and depression and improve self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise via a fitness class can be even more beneficial because of the intimate social interactions and sense of community created. Providing a safe and inviting environment for my customers where they can grow in their fitness journey as well as their personal lives has always been my main priority.
What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?
You can also find me on Instagram @maxinebascue
Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.
About the Interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at CrunchyMamaBox.com .