Not everyone can wear the title Boss Bitch with utter confidence. I’m lucky enough to call a woman who does just that a dear friend and mentor. Meet Shannon Crane, the boss bitch behind Brass Vixens.
Shannon is an adventurous, ambitious, passionate and incredibly open-minded individual. She’s a double divorcee (third time’s a charm, she says!), a former teen mom and wife, and a proud cougar. Graduating from the school of hard knocks, early on Shannon made success her goal and has worked her ass off to achieve it. A self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur, in the early 2000s Shannon had a craving for a new career. She had just spent 8 years in sales and marketing in the adult film industry, was partying like a rockstar and having a blast, but something was missing. So, in 2005 she bought into the Aradia pole fitness franchise and learned the ropes behind the pole fitness industry. Soon she had rebranded her business as Brass Vixens, becoming the original Toronto pole fitness studio and the rest is history!
Brass Vixens boasts a client roster of over 18,000 pole loving people served in their two studios, the newest at Danforth and Pape, and their Queen and Bathurst flagship, going strong for 13 years and counting. She credits much of her success to her talented and hardworking staff, the support of her brother, who designed and renovated both Brass Vixens studios, her parents, and her daughter, now an adult industry professional in her own right. That hard-won success comes not just in the form of revenue, but in the magical world that Shannon has created with Brass Vixens. I attended a Brass Vixens showcase at the new studio, and I was absolutely blown away not only by the performers but by the audience and the support they showed. All of the performers were Brass Vixens clients and students, who had taken the chance to put themselves on display, overcoming shyness, stagefright, awkwardness and fear, to show off their hard work. Everyone in the audience, Brass Vixens clients, friend and family alike, were there to support those brave performers, cheering, clapping and screaming for every performance. Shannon has not only built a company but a community that shows up for its members, supports them and raises them up physically and emotionally. Humans of all genders, shapes, sizes and backgrounds walk into her studios every week, and work so very hard to gain the power of the pole, and bask in the creativity and confidence it inspires.
Shannon Crane is brash, unapologetic, ambitious and hard-working, and also one of the kindest, most supportive people I have ever met and worked with. I’m proud to call her my friend, and blessed to have her as a mentor to bounce ideas off of and brainstorm with. Learn about what makes her tick and how she’s achieved everything she has below!
What is your official title? Do you have one?
I am the CEO of Brass Vixens. I also go by Boss Bitch (and I have the tattoo to prove it *wink*)
How did you get into the world of pole fitness?
I was at crossroads and not sure what do to with my life. I was working for myself, doing online sales and marketing and I couldn’t see myself getting any further in that field. I was looking into what to do next. I dabbled in spinning, yoga and fitness in general. I saw pole dancing on Oprah and Googled it, found a studio and booked myself in for a class…which I was terrible at. But I saw an opportunity to change my path and be involved in something that was social, healthy and new.
What achievement are you most proud of?
Being in business for almost 14 years is something I am pretty proud of. Being an entrepreneur is not easy. The first 5 years were hell, and surviving the recession as a new business was a major accomplishment. Brass Vixens grew from a struggling small business to a successful company with strong revenue and a loyal customer base. At one point we had 5 locations serving our clientele. As for recent accomplishments, we’ve just opened our newest location at Pape and Danforth, and we’re looking forward to teaching a new part of Toronto to embrace the pole.
What makes pole fitness different than other forms of exercise?
There are many different types of pole but at Brass Vixens, we focus on a fun, sexy and sensual style as opposed to being purely fitness focused. Pole is very upper body-centered, where a lot of forms of fitness for women are geared towards lower body and core. Very rarely will someone walk into our studios that can lift their own body weight using their upper body strength. With pole, you get really strong really fast. We balance it all out by making it fun, doing full body work with dancing, abs, and sexy floor work. We work muscles you maybe forgot you had. But at the same time, we’re entertaining you, making you forget you’re exercising at all. Our instructors are experienced and amazing performers, so every class feels like a show, and that shows in every class. There’s no checking the clock because you’re dying to get out of there. The time flies by because you’re having fun.
What myths do you want to dispel or confirm about pole dancing?
Ugh so many myths. The most common is how we are all dancing for men or trying to impress men. In fact, it’s the opposite; everyone is here for themselves, and each other. Our clients come to Brass Vixens because they want to get fit, be stronger, flip upside down, work their way into the splits, or gain more confidence. Other common myths are: I am too old, I have no upper body strength, I am too out of shape, I’ll feel awkward and uncomfortable. They’re all lies! We have instructors here from 24 to 60 years old. You get strong because you come to class. You get in shape because you are training. Everyone is welcome in our studios, all sizes, shapes, backgrounds, genders and ages. We’re all here to feel better about ourselves, and a community has grown where we all support each other in that journey.
What do you hope your guests/clients get out of their Brass Vixens experience?
I hope they have fun! I want them to feel welcome, accepted and appreciated at Brass Vixens.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
I think I’d own a dive bar in Parkdale and I’d be bartending there, playing Nine Inch Nails and Deftones daily and dancing around serving body shots. First round’s on me!
Now that’s a bar I’d go to! If you’re looking for a new form of fitness to try, and like supporting female run and owned business, head to Brass Vixens for a class today. Sign up and create a profile through the Brass Vixens website, then call the studio of your choice and tell them you read this interview to score your first class FREE. That’s right, FREE. Once you get a taste, you know you’ll be back. So check out the schedule online and give Brass Vixens a try today!