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Female business owners band together for success
Female Biz Owners pic1
Charlina Demoray, Gabrielle Forrest, and Deonne Storts-Culala gather in the shared lobby of the building that is home to their respective businesses: Beehive Beauty Salon, Alegria Ballroom Dance Academy and 4 Ever Fit Boot Camp.

What does a ballroom dance academy, hair salon and fitness boot camp all have in common? More than just occupying the same building, the trio of businesses are all owned by women.

An unofficial health and wellness center of sorts has blossomed in Turlock as Gabrielle Forrest, Charlina Demoray and Deonne Storts-Culala have created a space where locals come to look and feel good about themselves. At the angular intersection of Canal Drive and Kern Street exists the unique shaped building that houses their respective businesses:  Alegria Ballroom Dance Academy, Beehive Beauty Salon and 4 Ever Fit Boot Camp.

While the three businesses currently function in harmony, until recently the scene at the building was slightly different as it housed a tattoo artist and mixed martial arts gym along with the present hair salon.

“Where the dance floor is there was a MMA cage,” laughed Demoray, who was a stylist in the salon before becoming the current owner. “It was kind of a mix of everything, but we’ve kind of narrowed it down a little more.”

The Canal Drive building is unique in that the businesses share an entryway and lobby. At Demoray's behest the MMA cage near the entrance was removed and the floor was put in which Forrest promptly leased to begin her dance academy last summer. Soon enough the building’s owner wanted to shift her focus to her nursing career and in the fall Demoray and Forrest went from renting to full blown ownership.

"The lease kind of fell in our laps," recalled Forrest. "It was sudden, but it worked out beautifully. Once that happened Charlena changed the name of the salon and we started working on really making the whole space cohesive so it could all work together as one flow."

Storts-Culala joined in January to occupy the warehouse gym in the back of the building out of which she operates boot camps. A personal trainer in the community for 15 years, for the past five years Storts-Culala has run 4 Ever Fit Boot Camp which is a combination of indoor and outdoor exercise.

"I combine cardio elements and resistance training for maximum calorie burn," explained Storts-Culala.

With six week sessions and classes three times a week in the early morning and early evening, Storts-Culala is responsible for whipping many locals into shape. However, she keeps the classes in each session small with a 20 person limit.

"I try to ensure safe workouts and also a more personable experience for each person," she said. “I don’t want them to feel like a number.”

Storts-Culala’s interest in creating a friendly environment is shared by all of the business owners as Forrest said creating a comfortable and welcoming space has been at the forefront of the women’s minds.

"We want to make sure that anyone that comes in feels welcomed and not intimated," said Forrest

Forrest worked with Demoray to redo the shared lobby with warm colors and a refreshment table so that all clients are comfortable while they wait.

“We wanted to be known as three separate businesses, but still the appearance of togetherness.  Before it was so mismatched, but now it’s very cohesive. We blend together nicely," said Demoray.

Just as the space has grown more harmonious, so has the sense of community at the building which has become somewhat of a social spot. When clients head to Beehive for their hair, nails or tanning services they can witness the students at Alegria which offers more than just ballroom. Now yoga, hip hop cardio and even Pilates are on the menu. The bonus? The intermixing is good for business.

“The business has definitely grown since we’ve narrowed down what it is that we are,” said Demoray.

"I think the convenience is nice too because my clients come in and see that they can get their hair or nails done here or try a dance class that they may not have known about," said Storts-Culala.

Those interested in checking out the unique space for themselves can contact Storts-Culala at 988-5731 or Forrest and Demoray at 410-9719. A new session of 4 Ever Fit Boot Camp started Monday, while classes are ongoing at Alegria Ballroom Dance Academy. The first class, for both the boot camp and the dance academy, are free.