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COVID spins Kelly Konno Studio into the cleaning business

COVID-19 has meant a summer of innovation for Bowen’s dance studio
COVID spins Kelly Konno Studio into the cleaning business_3
Kelly Konno leads a Tuesday evening Dance Workout in the Woods at Veteran’s Park. Konno started the by-donation classes in the park after the pandemic forced her to temporarily close her dance studio in Artisan Square. Now with dance classes restarting and the studio in need of constant disinfecting, Konno and partner Thomas Newman have branched into a new business venture: cleaning.

As islanders and their businesses have adapted to COVID-19 conditions, many are finding innovative ways to keep their spaces clean and their costs lean. For Kelly Konno and Thomas Newman, this has lead to an entirely new business venture. 

Before closures hit in true in the Lower Mainland, Kelly Konno made the decision to close the dance studio just before spring break. 

Since then, she and Newman have ridden the waves of hope and hopelessness that the pandemic has wrought. 

“It’s been a crazy ride because we’ve experienced the closure of our pride and joy,” said Konno. “What defines me as a person is dance and to not have that anymore…yeah, that was tough.”

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Kelly Konno leads a dance workout in the woods class. - Undercurrent

For the first month Konno grieved, then she got down to business looking at how a reopened studio might look.

In June, she started outdoor classes in Veteran’s Park. “I don’t know whether I would have ever come to this conclusion to offer these outside and it’s been the best,” she said. In other years the studio would be largely empty in the summer months. “Nobody wants to be inside a dark, hot studio,” added Konno. 

Now dozens of well-spaced people are dancing to the tunes of Billie Eilish and Lady Gaga in the park. 

“It’s a little bit of income that we can make to towards getting back on our feet and not having to fully shut our doors for good,” said Konno.  

But with the winter deluges looming, Konno and Newman needed a way of keeping the studio clean. The cleaning required between each class would’ve almost required another employee, which, after five months closed, would be a further financial burden.  

That’s when the couple found the chlorine dioxide cleaner Vital Oxide. 

Chlorine dioxide is the chemical compound frequently added to drinking water and is a known disinfectant. The product, Vital Oxide, offers a formula that can be applied through fogging (which is exactly what it sounds like). 

“It’s considered a hospital grade surface disinfectant,” said Newman. 

Health Canada lists the product on its list of disinfectants with evidence against COVID-19. 

“We just launched [Vital Fogging] really just because we were looking for ‘how are we going to do this?’” Said Konno. 

“We need it ourselves,” added Newman.

Between every class, the studio will be fogged (the Vital Fogging website says that the product dries on most surfaces within 10 minutes).

“It’s going to save us money and it’s going to disinfect and get rid of germs everywhere because we’ve got a lot of germs going through that studio,” said Konno. 

“By keeping our studio disinfected and clean, we feel like it’s helping not only us, but the community,” said Newman. “And if anybody else uses [Vital Fogging], then great. That’s just one more person that’s protected [and] that’s protecting us ultimately.”

Islanders can find more information or book Vital Fogging at Newman adds that Vital Oxide deals too with odour, mildew and mold and is applicable to more than COVID-19 prevention. 

“It’s exciting to try something new,” added Konno. “I know we’re all looking for, in general, things, businesses that we can create or things to do that can keep us on island.”