by Dominique Lescott
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Nevis Creative Director Charmaine Howell credits social media platform TikTok for her ability to keep clients engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Howell is the owner and Creative Director of Queen City Studio (QCS), which is a dance and wellness centre in the heart of Charlestown.
QCS offers dance classes for children as young as three-years old, up to 18-years-old, and adult recreational classes such as yoga.
Howell said she had to get creative and employ the use of social technologies to keep her client base engaged during the last 18 months.
“TikTok has been a godsend for dance classes, since the kids are all over it anyway! Much of our online work was via PowerPoint and Zoom”.
Despite the benefits of technology, Howell suffered a major loss of earnings and clientele during the pandemic, losing 85% of her clients and the original location for the business.
WINN FM interviewed Howell as part of an in-depth series of articles, highlighting the impact on local businesses.
“The business has suffered tremendously, from losing our original location to losing 85% of our clients initially”, says Howell.
“We’ve had to cut back on the way we execute the program and look for opportunities to save or generate the income we need. We’re all doing it for the love and putting our flexibility to the test!”
Despite her best efforts, QCS lost its operations space. However, they were able to help from Nevis Performing Arts Centre (NePAC) when lockdown wasn’t a factor, by using the centre, as the extra space helped with social distance. Howell told WINN FM’s news team how she had to adapt.
She said, “We opened in 2018, just two years ahead of the pandemic. Initially, we were offering children’s dance classes, aerial silks classes, yoga, children’s meditation, recreational adult dance and holiday camps. Dance has always been a big part of my life, so the opportunity to open a dance business was an easy decision when it presented”.
As well as adapting to all of the changes and restrictions, Howell felt it was important to continue and to provide some normalcy and continuity for their youngest members. In addition, QCS were offering private classes as the main way we kept going. She said, “We did try the virtual route for a time, with challenges and activities posted on our website, then online classes via Zoom, and an at-home video project”.
However, Howell also added that she used lockdown as an opportunity to “slow down, step back and assess our overall goals, values and delivery”.
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