An Instagram page launched in 2016 to document then-college freshman Angela Presnell’s progression in hooping today reaches more than 21,000 followers — and sends the active entrepreneur across the globe to teach her artform in person.
“I needed some sort of creative outlet that could be totally mine,” said Presnell, the 24-year-old Kansas Citian behind lilhoopgirl. “Hooping looked fun and freeing, and I just felt really compelled to pick up a hoop. … It’s crazy that five years later, I am ready to take my art to the next level and teach it to anyone who wants to learn.”
Her next level: debuting the official lilhoopgirl website where individuals can subscribe to receive access to video tutorials on various hooping moves and resources on which hoops to purchase.
“What draws people into [hooping] is that it reminds you of being a kid; it’s relatable,” Presnell explained. “And then you see hoop dancers using fire or LED and that pulls you in further. But the thing people are missing is: How do I get started? Where are the tutorials? Where are the resources? It’s not super easy to find that stuff; you have to really search.
“I wanted to create this website to be a centralized place where people can get all their questions answered,” she continued.
Click here to check out lilhoopgirl’s website as it premieres.
Lilhoopgirl’s website — which launched today, July 1 — follows the business model of Patreon, a website that allows creators to upload content behind a paywall, so that they receive compensation for their work. But rather than give Patreon a percentage of her earnings, Presnell built her own site with the help of web designer Hallie Halpern from SeriouslyHallie Studios.
“Everything on this website has been a literal template from my brain,” Presnell shared. “We really started from scratch. I’m so excited for people to check it out.”
The website has been in the works for the past six months — ever since she came to realization that she wanted hooping to one day be her full time career, she said.
“I went into college not knowing what I wanted to do. At 18, how are you supposed to know? But you try things out, and then you just know. I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I’m not passionate about the education system. … Then I just had this moment where I was like, ‘I’m an artist, and I want to share that with others.’”
Presnell described her hooping style as “off-body, creative, flippy and fun,” adding that she enjoys incorporating dance and movement into her art.
“I know that I have so much to put on this website,” Presnell said. “I have so much more room to grow and learn. But what I do know is good — my purpose for this website is to create meaningful movement for anybody.”
Click here to follow lilhoopgirl on Instagram.
Discovering her authentic self
During Presnell’s first year of hooping, she realized that beyond an artist — she was a queer artist, she shared. Through her platform, Presnell expressed hope to inspire and build a community for other queer individuals, especially those growing up in small towns like she did in Southern Missouri.
“It feels so freeing to be able to channel that part of my identity into my work and be proud of it,” Presnell said. “[Hooping] has given me so much self-expression, along with a community and their encouragement. If you peek through my Instagram, you can literally see my physical transformation and my confidence grow throughout the years.”
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Even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, hooping has been a way for Presnell to ground herself and relax amid mindfulness, she said.
“I have ADHD, so trying to relax by sitting still and meditating is really difficult for me,” she explained. “Hooping is like a movement mediation. It also gives me a serotonin boost from moving and having fun.”
For those who haven’t tried hooping, or haven’t picked up a hoop since they were a kid, Presnell encourage them to not worry about what they look like and give it a shot.
“I feel like we put these limitations on what we can and can’t do without even trying,” she said. “But [hooping] is an investment that can physically and mentally make you feel better.”
Hooping around the world
Along with online workshops, Presnell has taken lilhoopgirl overseas with workshops in Holland and Barcelona.
“I love to travel, so it’s really cool I have that opportunity with hooping,” she said. “… My first retreat was in Holland and super random. I was doing an internship in Barcelona, and there was another hooper traveling in the Netherlands. I reached out, and she invited me to teach my first workshop. Everything was a shot in the dark, but you have got to be vulnerable and try.”
After a year of in-person workshops going on a hiatus, Presnell taught at retreats in Michigan and Colorado this spring. She is returning to Colorado in August to teach at the High Altitude Hoop Retreat.
“This year was a lot of new steps for me and starting from scratch,” Presnell shared. “The one thing that I knew I had throughout all of it was this creative outlet. I know I can pick up my hoop and always have a piece of comfort within it.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation works to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity.
For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with us at www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.