06.20.24

Business Spotlight: Tori Leigh Fitness

Victoria Soto operates a unique business— keeping prenatal and postnatal moms physically fit.  And the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center’s Kiva loan program has been instrumental in keeping her business financially fit.

Victoria has operated Tori Leigh Fitness since 2017 — initially from a far north side Fort Wayne studio and now from her home. Having been a track athlete at Northrop High School and then at Purdue University, she has concentrated on providing fitness training for expectant and new mothers, having recognized the need for that specialized care after the birth of her first child.

“I am an independent contractor and now offer in-home training,” she explains, “So I have a few clients where I travel to their house and provide my services. I’m also very active on social media and have a pretty decent following on Instagram, Facebook, and Tik Tok. So I have a lot of online clients and do a lot of online programming. Most recently, I have built a gym outside my home so clients I’ve been training for a while are coming there to train.”

Tori Leigh Fitness — Tori is Victoria’s nickname and Leigh is her middle name — now operates on an appointment basis as she awaits the birth of her fourth child, due in July.  She secured her first KIVA loan about five years ago to purchase equipment for the opening of her studio.  Her second KIVA loan — awarded this year — will buy more equipment, for her home studio.

The Northeast Indiana innovation Center (NIIC) Women’s Business Center administers the Kiva Northeast Indiana loan program on behalf of partners that include the City of Fort Wayne, The Summit City Entrepreneur & Enterprise District, and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. Its self-sustaining crowdsource model requires applicants to provide a list of prospects whose giving can kick-start the funding. Kiva loans of up to $15,000 are 0% interest. Victoria qualified for her second loan by following through on repayment of her first loan.

“When I had the opportunity to get the second one, I had built in a good track record and was approved for even more the second time around,” she recalls. “It’s interest-free and the low payments are very affordable. When I received the grant the first time it was very encouraging especially being a new small business,” Victoria continues.  “Trying to find funding was very discouraging prior to receiving the Kiva loan, and the thing that I really like about Kiva is its crowdfunding. The first round is up to you to get that money from family and friends, so there’s accountability on you to share with the community the story of what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Once you reach a giving threshold with family and friends in your community, it opens up nationally to other people who are able to give to your loan. When you make your payments, you’re paying back all those individuals who helped provide the loan.”

Victoria wants to expand her fitness outreach after her maternity leave, and is keeping the Kiva program in mind to help accomplish that.

“I’ve had a lot of family members and friends help me get this far,” she reflects. “It was a way for them to show support, even if they don’t use my services. It let me know that they appreciate the work that I’m doing. They’re seeing the impact it’s making on the community, and it has given them a way to support that.”

Learn more about Victoria Soto active enterprise at torileighfitness.com.

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