Julia Sokol: Founder and CEO of SassClass
Posted on April 18 2018
From the wise words of Beyonce, "Get in Formation." Women of New York, you now have a chance to star in your very own music video, complete with a girl squad. Julia Sokol founded SassClass a dance studio open to all-levels and beginner dancers.
Julia found herself unhappy after working her way up to a Director role in Advertising, so she quit her job and moved to Hawaii. She soon found herself back in New York focusing on her key inspiration, the women of New York. Through her love for dance during her childhood she created SassClass to celebrate women and their capabilities to shine in the light. Read more about Julia below as well as comments from her students in the latest Chairography Chair Dance seen below.
What inspired you to create SassClass?
Honestly, I created SassClass because I wanted something like SassClass to exist in the world! I craved something like this. I looked around me and saw a big *missing* in the market of dance offerings. I really loved the routine and sense of progression that I had when I was young -- signing up for a dance class for the entire school year, and coming back week after week. I also wanted to experience a sense of accomplishment and achievement at the end of a dance class -- going to a class is amazing and we learn this great routine and then what?! Wait, we just go home? That’s it?! I want something to show for it! So I knew I wanted to create a dance program, not just a class, and that I wanted there to be a culmination -- in our case, a professional video shoot! I also was drawn specifically to creating an experience for women, rooted in femininity and sisterhood. So… long story short? I created something that I wanted to exist, a service that I personally love, a business that I would want to do business with, a community I’d want to be part of!
How did you make it happen?
I had worked my way up to a Director-level position at an ad agency, but even though the money and the hours were great, I wasn’t happy. I finally mustered up the courage to quit and I bought a one-way ticket to Hawaii thinking that “freedom” (which I equated with being a nomad) was the key to happiness. Well, it wasn’t (though my adventures and travels were pretty damn great!) so I came back to NYC. I was living off my savings and enrolled in a personal development course called Landmark. One of our assignments in the course was to create a project in a community that’s important to us. I chose to impact the corporate 20-30 something women of NYC and created the first iteration of SassClass for them, to give them a way of balancing the masculine energy of the workplace (and of NYC, really) with the feminine energy of sensual, fierce, sexy, empowering dance and performance. I had no idea it’d turn into what it has (though I think in the back of my mind I was hoping it would)! I launched the first program and people immediately asked me when the next one would be. I was like “Okay, I guess there’ll be a next one… I wasn’t planning on it, but let’s do it!” and it kept going from there. About 4-6 months into it, I realized “I should probably give this thing a name, and form an LLC”, so I did. The rest is history. And by history I mean, a road paved with tons of hard work, occasional intense fits of self-doubt and fear, worries from family members who think I’m crazy for giving up my cushy corporate life, uncomfortable conversations and situations, difficult decisions, and disappointment… as well as, incredible support from my SassClass community, beautiful student testimonials that make me cry, recognition from major media outlets, celebrations of milestones like opening our very own studio, an amazing team of videographers, photographers, lighting designers, instructors, advisors, coaches, and interns, and a deep sense of pride and fulfillment.
What is your favorite thing about SassClass?
My favorite thing about SassClass is our video shoots at the end of each program -- specifically, the incredible sense of excitement, fulfillment, vitality, joy that fills the room like a magnetic, contagious energy. I can only describe it as reminding me of being a kid again. Experiencing something new for the first time, maybe even feeling like you did something naughty and got away with it. That sense of “wow, I cannot believe I am doing this”, suddenly seeing yourself in a new light, realizing you can still be playful, adventurous, courageous, bold. Realizing you can actually do ANYTHING, even things you never ever imagined in your wildest dreams (like starring in a music video)! Seeing that life is suddenly full of possibilities again. A deep, true, child-like view of life, like it’s really one big adventure waiting to be had! That’s what fills the air at our culminating video shoots at the end of each program.
"I really love the feeling of community that I get from taking part in the classes here. Sometimes when you take classes you can get lost in the crowd and not really make a connection but I have been loving meeting all the amazing people that have been brought together by these programs, including the students, teachers and Julia of course! I can definitely tell that I'm becoming more confident and aware of my body from my experiences here so far. I would say just never letting yourself think that there are certain things that you "can't" or shouldn't do. I think a lot of people never try things because they think that they aren't talented or it will be impossible to accomplish but I believe that you can learn anything if you want it enough and there's no sense in setting yourself up for failure. I think when facing something new and scary, if more people just really considered the question, "What's the worse that can happen?" they would realize that most things are worth taking that risk to try. And if you don't at least try, you will never know, right?"
"My advice would be don't ever second guess yourself when making a decision, just go for it. You'll look back and be happy you've accomplished many things by saying yes. My favorite thing about SassClass is I can be myself and express how I feel through dance. Since everything is going to social media, I love how everything we learn ends with a professional video that we can share with the world!"
"Sassclass is such a fun environment where I was able to conquer my fear of dancing and learning a choreography as someone whose never done it before! I was able to explore my inner diva by learning sexy dance techniques, yet was able to put my own style into it. Every time I conquered a dance class I stepped out feeling more confident and super sassy! Step out of your comfort zone and try something new! You won’t regret it."
"I wanted to learn dancing in a more structure way instead of the many drop-in classes other studios offer. Also, I want the community. With all the dating apps around, it is often easier to get dates than find new girl friends! SassClass makes me feel empowered. We don't actually spend a lot of time together, but somehow I feel a connection. I love how SassClass is a safe space to explore- our feelings, makeup, costumes, and of course dance moves."
Studio / Producer: SassClass
Choreo: Tony Guerrero
Film: Dream But Don't Sleep
Photography: Amber Ink Photography
Lighting: Becky Nussbaum