Tag Archives: Des Moines

meet felicia: iowa fly girl

Felicia Coe on People With Panache

Felicia works three-quarters time. Her day job is really flexible, so that gives her leeway when she has aerial commitments in her life—like perhaps her upcoming cirque-style show “Pandora’s Circus”!

“I keep referring back to that cheesy quote that if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough,” says Felicia Coe, the aerialist behind Iowa Fly Girl. (We’ll get to her biggest dream in a couple questions. Do you agree with that quote?)

First, some basics: Felicia runs Des Moines’ first aerial fitness/aerial art business, and it just keeps growing. She’s been doing her aerial magic for four years now, but her greatest passion is teaching it. Felicia and her students use aerial silks (silky columns of loose fabric that hang from the ceiling) as well as similar, silky hammocks to move up and down and through the air, using their entire bodies for beautiful choreography—and having a blast.

People with Panache: This is such a cool practice! Can you describe it for us?

Felicia Coe: Aerial fitness, aerial art—it’s kind of two separate things, and I lean toward aerial fitness. Aerial is still very undefined, but it’s starting to separate. It used to be unreachable for the average person, just something they saw at Cirque du Soleil. Most of my students aren’t looking to be performers, it’s just really fun.

PWP: How did you connect with this community?

FC: I trained in aerial in Salt Lake City—it’s huge out there. Pole fitness is actually huge, too.

But when I moved back here, there was nothing. I was at The Girls Room Fitness for pole, and when they got wind of what I was doing with aerial, I started doing workshops. Now we have this huge group of aerialists! One of our girls actually just carved an aerialist into her Halloween pumpkin. It’s kind of my warm and fuzzy seeing people have that passion for it.

PWP: So you teach classes? Is there a group you perform with?

Felicia Coe on People With Panache

Felicia’s shared studio has a masquerade ball every year, a chance to show off what she and the Goddesses have been doing and learning. (What a cute little cocoon.)

FC: Yes, and this studio has a performing group called the Goddesses. We’ve done performances at 515 Alive, Iowa State Fair and 80/35 music festival.

It’s a different feel, having women just hanging around in the ceiling performing. Students come in because they always thought it was cool and wanted to try it. Some never thought they wanted to perform and caught the bug.

I was terrible and so out of shape when I first started training. I couldn’t even lift myself up. I was 30 pounds heavier and just tried it on a fluke and loved it. It was much better than running on a treadmill.

PWP: Oh my gosh, yes! It looks so hard but seems like such a blast.

FC: Most of my students don’t start out fit. Most come in and can’t do anything, can’t lift themselves up. Half the class I’d say we work on the basics, which is climbing, working on a foot lock. The second half is the easier fun stuff so they’re having fun and not getting discouraged.

People are like “I just…I just got up!” and everyone will cheer; it’s a great atmosphere. I remember the first time I did a foot lock: “YES!” Now, as a teacher, I love seeing that over and over again.

Felicia Coe on People With Panache

“Once you start getting into the dance stuff, it’s all about lots of core strength.” Felicia lost 30 pounds when she took up aerial. (WAY more fun than a treadmill!)

PWP: Do you see your business being more than a side job?

FC: I love it but I don’t want to have to rely on it and take away the joy—but I haven’t decided on that. While I teach, I’m taking on more projects and doing different things, like a cirque-style show called “Pandora’s Circus.”

PWP: How many students do you have?

FC: I have about 20 regulars/die-hard students, and 60 students total. Many people come in by themselves, but it’s neat to see that quiet girl in the corner hanging out and laughing with the other girls a month later. I’ve made a lot of friendships through it.

PWP: Is it challenging to always teach your students something new?

FC: I had a private lesson yesterday and was showing her a gemini move, trying to explain how to get out of it. She was just trying it for the first time and did something else to get out of it. At first I was thinking that’s not how you do it—but that was a new way! They push me and challenge me, and they have big ideas.

PWP: Do people ever fall off the fabric?

FC: No. Once you start going into advanced, there are moments of hang time when you’re transitioning, but once you get to that point you’re pretty strong in your moves.

Felicia Coe on People With Panache

Felicia’s national convention will also host a competition to give participants a reason to prepare and practice hard. We want to go watch!

For me, safety’s huge—the most important. Aerial is very fun but extremely dangerous. I am careful not to just let students go try anything they see on YouTube. And in the beginning I work with them a lot on the hammock. They start to trust it, to understand their body weight in relation to the fabric.

PWP: It’s nice you’re finding places to teach so you don’t have to worry about the overhead.

FC: Yes, and I’m working on a new aerial project: the Des Moines Social Club just got this firehouse that they’re turning into a restaurant, coffee house, bars, a theater, culinary art space, classrooms and an aerial studio they’re converting from a racquetball court.

My husband and I originally left Des Moines ’cause there was nothing here, but you just have to open your eyes—there’s a ton going on. And I love the collaboration. I’ve talked to aerialists in other places, and it’s just not there. It’s really nice to have that support here. Everyone’s interested!

Felicia Coe on People With Panache

Felicia loves Alice in Wonderland—and has the perfect reason to buy fun leggings!

PWP: We would be if we still lived here!

FC: The other big thing I’m working on now, which still hasn’t rolled out, has been my biggest, scariest project. Aerial is lacking an association, one spot to bring all forms of aerialists together. Safety is hugely important, and there isn’t one place online to understand it or look up questions. I want there to be a centralized spot to do that, have profiles, create forums, read what people are experiencing, dealing with, troubleshooting, hosting.

So this summer, we’re holding a national convention at the firehouse! It’s a great venue, and there aren’t a lot of places where you can work with other aerialists on safety, new routines, everything. For a solo performer, a business owner, it’s a perfect atmosphere.

PWP: That is brilliant! It kind of ties in with one of our goals for 2014: Bring together these amazing women we keep meeting to develop a vibrant network of women entrepreneurs and dream followers in the Midwest. We’ll certainly share when we do—’cause we bet a ton would also love to learn about aerial!

So, it sounds like one of the most fun things we can imagine—flying, basically!—but what are some challenges of doing what you do?

FC: I’ve had to get more organized, which has never been my huge strong area. I was always like, this is fun! But I have this year’s planner, next year’s planner, and the weirdest thing is balancing my friends, my life. I’m working really hard to make it all balance.

PWP: What makes you happiest?

FC: Having that balance. If this was to go away, like if I was to get injured or something, I can’t have this be all me and then one day walk away from it. I have a nephew, about to be 2, the first baby in our family. He just has me around his finger. I also love real downtime with my husband—just doing nothing.

And with the aerial part of my life, I’m my happiest with my beginners and seeing those little victories.

[Photos by Alysse.]

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doodle day: fly fly away

Ever wanted to soar through the sky on a silky cloth? (And when we say that, do you hear Aladdin singing, “I can show you the world, shining, shimmering, splendid”? Neither do we…)

Well Felicia Coe flies almost every day. As a professional aerialist, she gives us a whole new world opinion on the necessity of upper body strength. And we’ll stop here before we make any more Disney jokes. Check back Tuesday for her story!

Felicia Coe, Aerialist

[Doodle by Lucca.]

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meet liz: des moines art adviser

Liz Lidgett on People with Panache

Liz is president of Art Noir, a 400-plus person organization that raises money (to make sure admission is free to everyone every day) and throws events for the Des Moines Art Center—“events you wouldn’t be able to go to anywhere else,” Liz says.

“We loved L.A. and had a great time, but we knew we could affect change in a more impactful way in Des Moines at such a young age.”

Liz Lidgett, 28, entrepreneur and general make-it-happen person, just described why we love the Midwest so very much. Continue reading

meet nikki: hosting des moines’ longest happy hour

Nikki Syverson on PWP

Nikki sits on the Drake Regional Alumni Board and stays active in the Des Moines nonprofit scene. She recently chaired the Bubble Ball, a cool-sounding event inspired by bubble wrap. (It benefits ChildServe, which helps children and families with special needs. We love that!)

My favorite happy hour is wine happy hour. Though a refreshing pinot grigio is my tried and true, I have recently been getting friendlier with reds. Alysse is happy about that—her fave is cabernet. We discussed our go-to wines and tried some new ones with Nikki Syverson, Event Director for Winefest in Des Moines, Iowa. I ended up drinking a delicious rose from Slovenia while we talked about her job and long history with wine.

People with Panache: What do you do as the Event Director for Winefest?

Nikki Syverson: I’m the director of the whole organization, so I manage all the ins and outs: from board recruitment and managing the board, to sponsorships, day-to-day mundane stuff such as accounting, and all of the event planning and event details for all of Winefest, which is now an eight-day festival with year-round events.

PWP: How long have you been involved?

NS: This will be my third festival. I was hired three years ago by Winefest. Before that, I was with the symphony for six years and simultaneously had my own event-planning business for four years.

PWP: Was this the perfect next step?

NS: My business partner and I did mostly weddings and some nonprofit events. It was getting to be a lot. Our business really took off when my daughter was born, and I wanted one thing to focus on. I was approached by Winefest, which I always enjoyed going to. I have been passionate about wine my whole life. My grandparents taught me about it when I was a kid. So it was a perfect fit.

Then, when I came on board, we made it an eight-day event. The next year, we added year-round events. It was really successful. We made it so we can offer something for everybody!

PWP: What do you do with the proceeds?

NS: Part of it goes back into our savings, and the other portion of our proceeds goes to Bravo Greater Des Moines. They’re the regional arts council, so they distribute the money to the symphony, the ballet, the opera and the arts center in a formula that they have. We just gave $12,000 to Bravo a couple weeks ago.

Nikki Syverson on PWP

“The fun thing about wine is that there’s always more to learn and you can never know everything,” Nikki says.

PWP: Wow! Is this your dream job?

NS: It used to be. I think I’ll have another dream job after this though. I love it, and I love what I do. I don’t know what the next step will be. I see myself doing this for a while. I know there’s something that will be even better after this.

PWP: That’s the fun part about accomplishing one dream job. You get to move on to the next! And meet so many wonderful people along the way.

Do you find that you interact with a wide variety of people?

NS: I work with a whole spectrum. With Winefest, I collaborate with everyone on my fabulous board and a variety of industry vendors. I’ve loved working with people on the wine side, culinary side—even sanitation side. I love the guy who gets our toilets! I’ve worked with him for years, and he’s a sweetheart.

PWP: What’s your favorite part of the job?

NS: Event days. I just think it’s fun. We had an event two weeks ago, and I was running around thinking  “I love event days!” Which is good because that’s my job!

PWP: Are there any life lessons you’ve learned that you want to make sure you teach your kids?

Nikki Syverson on PWP

We had a blast (and delicious cookies) at Table 128 in Des Moines, one of many places where Nikki has built meaningful relationships.

NS: Do something that makes you happy. Make sure you find a work-life balance. As a working mom, that’s the hardest thing. Finding that balance, because you always want to be at two places at once. With my job especially, there’s so much stuff at night. All of our board meetings are at night. All of our staff meetings. It’s Winefest. People want to have wine at these things! It’s not always acceptable to day drink. (Ha!) But finding that balance. I’m very lucky to do something that I love, and I think life’s too short not to. And my husband has been really supportive of that, too.

PWP: What makes you happiest?

NS: Right now I’d say being with my family, days where we don’t have anything on the schedule.

Before the Winefest fun begins again in 2014, check out what Nikki put together this past season! Save the date for May 31 – June 7, 2014, for the next one. We know we will—and let us know if you’re going, too!

[Photos by Alysse.]

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doodle day: happy hour… or happy week?

Who doesn’t love a delicious glass of wine to unwind at the end of the day? Nikki Syverson, Event Director of Winefest in Des Moines,  Iowa, knows her wine, and she knows how to have a good time. Check out the GIF below, inspired by Nikki’s story, and check back on Tuesday to catch a glimpse of her event planning skills!

Winefest on PWP

[Doodle by Lucca.]

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meet blake: des moines stationery sweetheart

Blake says balance is the thing she has learned most—especially when it comes to balancing motivation and inspiration between work and OGP.

Blake says balance is the thing she has learned most—especially when it comes to balancing motivation and inspiration between work and Oh Goodness Paperie.

Blake Kermode, 23, is a graphic designer by day, stationery entrepreneur by passion. She runs Oh Goodness Paperie, creating the sweetest cards and custom projects in one of the Midwest’s friendliest cities. Continue reading