Source: The Penny Hoarder Hula Hooping Article
Published: March 22, 2017 by Susan Shain and Heather Comparetto
“The sound of the fire is addictive — it’s a rush.”
Abby Albaum spins a flaming hula hoop around her waist, then her knees. She shimmies it up to her shoulders and, in a flash, it’s spinning in her hand. It’s captivating: the fire’s rhythm, crackle and heat.
But perhaps not as much as Albaum herself. She’s a natural performer, an effortless mover. Her hair is a rushing torrent of blonde underneath her velvet hood, chasing the flames as she whips around, and around, and around…
For a crowd that hopes she never stops.
A couple years ago, I made myself this promise: “When inspiration strikes, take the time to honor it.” Is it ideal timing for me to sit down at this moment and write a blog? No. But that’s ok, because this message is important and needs to be shared.
My boyfriend of 5.5 years is currently en route to St. John, U.S.V.I. via Soulshine, along with his first mate and business partner, Pete. Captain Kevin (an experienced sailor who I believe is half Pirate and half Superhero) is also on board, to assist with the sail down.
Jim has spent the last year and a half actively preparing for this journey and life change. Witnessing it unfold has been nothing short of amazing. Jim is one of the most carefree, happy, likable guys on the planet (I might be a little biased, but those who know him will back me up on this truth). Less than two years ago, he was doing what so many people do on a daily basis: Wake up. Dress for Corporate America. Spend the day in an office. Work like a mad man. Go home. Go to bed. Repeat. We both knew that there was something more… Something bigger and better waiting for him around the bend.
Side note: Jim is from St. Louis, and he first learned to sail with his uncle. He was immediately hooked and always knew that sailing would be a big part of his life. He still has a story he wrote at age 7, about a boy and his sailboat. I only had the opportunity to meet his father a couple times before he passed, but it was common knowledge that Jim’s dad always wanted him to obtain his Captain’s license. I guess his dad (whose nickname was “Happy”) must have known that this was Jim’s calling, long before Jim did.
In college, Jim planned his first trip down to Florida and immediately fell in love with the Sunshine State. After graduating from Missou, he decided to relocate – and a big group of his amazing friends did the same. This was the start of Jim’s 15 year career in Sales. During those early years as a young corporate executive, Jim would drive down to the marina after work and watch the sunset while dreaming of owning his own boat: A 34-foot Catalina, to be exact. He knew what he wanted and he’d stare at that boat every day… until that fateful day when he saved up enough money to purchase his dream boat. He called it the Leesurelee, and this boat became his home for the next 7 years. It’s also where so many beautiful memories were made (including our first date).
Fast forward to 2014, Jim knew that the time had come to obtain his Captain’s License and pursue a new career. So, he made a big move and resigned from his Corporate job. He took a leap of faith, even though nothing was set in stone, in terms of his next steps. We just knew, in our hearts, that things would unfold the way they were meant to…
“When nothing is certain, anything is possible.” – Margaret Drabble
Shortly after obtaining his Captain’s License, Jim reconnected with an old college buddy, Pete. The two talked about how great it would be to go into business together and sail the U.S.V.Is and B.V.I.s. Pete’s brother currently resides in St. John, and there were a few connections/ synchronycities that got their wheels turning. Jim researched boats non-stop and set his sights on a Catamaran. At the time, a Lagoon 440 seemed out of reach, but the seed had been planted. The boys cranked out a business plan and decided it was going to work – one way or another. But there were hurdles to overcome, and these hurdles were plentiful. Even still, Jim and Pete were “all in.” They were willing to risk it all to pursue their dream of creating a U.S.V.I based charter company.
Jim spent countless hours researching boats, and when he saw a Lagoon 440 for sale in the Bahamas, the boys booked their plane tickets right away. They traveled down to tour what would soon be their new boat, Soulshine. (The name is a tribute to the Allman Brothers song, Soulshine – and I personally believe it’s a metaphor for what happens when we follow our souls’ purpose in life).
Oh there were bumps along the way, my friends. Haul outs that didn’t go as planned. Sleepless nights. Personality conflicts. Boat upgrades that took longer than expected – you name it, it probably happened. And this is the reason why I’m writing today. To communicate this message: It’s all worth it. Most people who experience success in life will tell you that there were many failed attempts, and it didn’t happen overnight. But the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is this: Those who succeed never give up on their dreams.
Following your path in life doesn’t mean that everything will run smoothly all of the time. I can tell you first hand, as my little company (Hoola Monsters) prepares to turn 10 in 2017… Over the past decade, I faced many challenges also. I experienced financial hardships and even lost my house after I went full time with my biz. I got boo’ed off stage on national television. I was convinced that the children’s DVD we put out a few years ago would end up being in every home all over the U.S. and would be picked up as a kids’ TV series (it didn’t happen… at least not yet).
But here’s what did happen: My business has gone from “being in the red” to “actually profiting.” I’ve put smiles on the faces of thousands of children over the years. I’ve enabled performance artists to have their first paid gigs. I’ve launched a jewelry line, Good Vibe Designs that is turning out to be a beautiful venture. I also co-created a hoop dance teacher training program (Hoola-Fit) that’s enabling other passionate flow arts educators to live out their own dreams. But most importantly, I didn’t give up. And neither did Jim. This is one of the millions of reasons why I love him so much.
Well, July 2016 is shaping up to be an exciting time for Hoola Monsters, and I thought it would be fitting to share the story of how it all began…
I started hoop dancing in the summer of 2007 after a friend introduced me to the art form. I actually created my first handmade hula hoop before I ever successfully spun one on my waist! I’ve always been crafty… as a child, I would comb the FL beaches for shells, to make jewelry for family and friends. In high school, I discovered a passion for mosaic art. So, when my friend Kacey invited me over for wine and hoop making, I was in! The first hoop I made was Watermelon themed, in pink and green. Kacey took it to a music festival she was vending, at Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park and it was actually the first hoop she sold that weekend!
Of course, my love for hoop dance was soon realized after that fateful hoop making night. I began teaching myself everything I could about the art form (from making hoops to learning the latest tricks and moves), and in 2008, I opened up my Etsy shop. At the same time, I started selling my handmade hula hoops at the Saturday Morning Market in St. Pete, FL. The market proved to be an amazing thing for me, considering it’s the largest farmer’s market in the Southeast United States. People started asking for classes and performances, and before I knew it, I was leaving my marketing career to be a full time Hoola Monster. Now, 9 years later, I’m pleased to say that I’m still a vendor at the Saturday Morning Market, and Hoola Monsters is one of the longest running hoop stores on Etsy!
And, I’m super excited to be featured in the July 2016 issue of Handmade Seller Magazine! What an honor! I also launched my jewelry website earlier this year and I expanded my ETSY shop to include Good Vibe Designs.
I love being a handmade artist, and there’s nothing more exciting than to see someone fall in love with an item I’ve created. I also love setting people up for success and welcome custom orders. Feel free to browse around my shop, or stop by my booth at the market, the next time you visit Sunny St. Pete You can also check out Hoola Monsters on Facebook or follow me on Instagram.
Growing up as a circus gal I met folks who could walk on their hands, fly around in an arena, balance on the heads of elephants, juggle machetes with all ten fingers still in tack, and contort their bodies in unimaginable positions. Being the curious cat that I am, I had the opportunity to try many of these circus trades. However, there was one I was particularly fond of – and that was the art of hula-hooping… Luckily, Downtown St. Pete has a company that keeps our community going ‘round and ‘round. HOOLA MONSTERS, created by Abby Albaum, offers classes for children and adults, has a performing troupe, and even produces their own hoops for you to purchase!Read more
According to ilovetheburg.com, hooping is considered to be one of five strange trends to hit St.Petersburg, and we couldn’t agree more.
“Hooping has grown in popularity in the Sunshine City. If you head out to the Saturday Morning Market in the Fall, Kappa Field at Eckerd College when the semester is in full swing or the green at USFSP, you’ll catch students and pros alike contorting their body through handmade, neon taped hoops caught in infinite loops. What was once a toy for children has developed into quite the art form around St. Petersburg, Florida.”
– See more at: I Love the BurgRead more
Hooping.org (the worldwide hub for all things hoop dance) quotes Abby Albaum, founder of Hoola Monsters & Hoola Monster Kids, on the health and wellness benefits of hoop dance, both physical and mental.
With Michelle Obama and the Center for Disease Control on a mission to wipe out childhood obesity in America, it is no surprise that hula hooping has come into the limelight as one way to maintain health for our kids. Childhood obesity has, after all, more than tripled in the past 30 years here. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70% of youth struggling with obesity today already have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Something obviously has to be done. Whether or not kids want to exercise, most want to play. Hula hooping is a great way for kids to spin up some exercise without really knowing it. And while that may not be a news flash exactly, it has seemed to me, as a mother, that my boys have been gaining a plethora of other benefits and life skills from picking up the hoop as well.Read more
DoYouRemember.com names Hoola Monsters one of the best companies for hoop dance classes in the country!
Who can forget the feeling of accomplishment one has after successfully spinning a hula hoop for the first time? For many, this was a childhood achievement akin to riding a bike without training wheels or going for a spin on new roller skates without crashing onto the pavement. Fast-forward several decades, and now grownups can get in on the retro craze as hula hooping has graduated from playtime to exercise. The newish fitness fad, which counts Kelly Osbourne and Catherine Zeta-Jones among its circle of fans, promises to tone, tighten and help people slim down.Read more
ABC’s “The List” talks with Hoola Monster’s Abby Albaum about World Hoop Day 2012.
TAMPA, FL – The good old-fashioned hula hoop has made a comeback, and now it’s being employed, not only as a good work-out tool, but also a means of self-expression. Abby Albaum owns Hoola Monsters, Inc., the first full-service hoop company in the area. Abby designs handmade custom professional hoops, she has a performance troop which works parties and festivals, and she offers sessions where you can learn the art of hoop dancing and get fit, too…Read more