Despite the unexpected changes that the pandemic has brought upon them, Sofia Coyiuto and Dorthee “Dot” Li, have become prime examples of the popular quote: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” They are Leading Ladies, after all. 

808 Studio, being the first boutique dance fitness studio in Manila, brings their choreography online. 

With 808 Studio, you can be sure that your workouts, whether online, or face-to-face once this pandemic is over, will have strength and cardio integrated into a power-packed dance party with a live DJ. We asked the founders of 808 Studio, Sofia and Dot, some questions about their boutique dance fitness studio, in order to inspire other Leading Ladies across the country.

What inspired you to start 808 Studio? 

Sofia: As someone who is passionate about dancing, I was inspired to start 808 Studio as I saw a space in the market for a boutique dance fitness studio in the Philippines. In Manila, we either have dance studios that cater to highly skilled or professional dancers, or we have dance fitness classes that are usually just add-ons to gyms and don’t really provide the elevated experience boutique fitness studios are known for. I wanted to create a dance fitness community that was open to all – no dance experience necessary! As our anthem goes, “We believe in dancing like no one’s watching. In flying without the fear of crashing.”

Dot:   I’ve always believed in the power of endorphins and the power of community.  I’ve experienced first-hand how a good workout experience changes your day for the better. Doing it daily, it can change your year/your life for the better!  808 Studio is a community built just for that: celebrating the joy of dance, music, and fitness with awesome and supportive people to enjoy it with.

What’s the best and worst part of running your business? 

Sofia & Dot: The absolute best part about running this business is getting messages from 808ers saying how much 808 has changed their lives for the better. 2020 has been tough for everyone so to know that we’ve been able to spread joy during these times means a lot to us. It’s crazy how much of a family the 808 community feels like even though we’ve only met online. We cheer each other on and celebrate one another in and out of class.

The pandemic has definitely been the worst part of our 808 journey. After all the team’s hard work, it was absolutely heartbreaking to close the studio on the day of our soft opening. Despite the two years of planning and preparation, nothing went according to plan. However, we do believe this year has made our team a lot stronger and more resilient. We know we’ll be able to overcome whatever comes our way through teamwork, perseverance, and determination.

How have you adapted to COVID-19? 

Sofia & Dot: COVID-19 hit right when 808 Studio was about to open. Never in our wildest dreams did we expect to launch a brand, especially a fitness studio, online. When we were put in that position, with a whole team depending on us, we didn’t have time to panic. We had to take a deep breath and figure out our next step. Everything we thought of as essential to the 808 experience – our physical studio, the sprung floors, the lights, the live DJ – went out the door. We went back to the basics. At the core of 808 is dance, and we knew the joy of dancing didn’t have to be contained in a certain space or time.

In April of 2020, 808 Studio launched 808 Together, a 45-minute power-packed dance fitness party with exclusive DJ mixes online. It’s been over 4 months since then and we continue to offer daily classes on Zoom, expand our class offerings and grow our community. We are so proud of how our instructors and DJs have been able to bring the 808 experience online. We owe it all to our community who believe in us and dance it out with us every single day.

And finally, what advice would you give to aspiring Filipina entrepreneurs?

Sofia: Your entrepreneurial journey is never what you expect. When plans fall through, it’s easy to lose perspective. My advice for Filipina entrepreneurs is to always go back to your why. Your why will serve as a guiding light in the many difficult decisions you will have to make in leading your team. Just like Dot said, enjoy the ride!

Dot:  Go for it! Start now. The only way to truly learn is from experience. Be smart, do good. Find good people to do good work with you.  Know that you will have to keep adjusting your sails along the way and that’s okay. Just keep learning and enjoy the crazy ride!

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