Keri knew she always wanted to own a studio but she needed to gain more experience. She continued teaching for many gyms and dance studios working with people ages 3-85. She’s worked with athletes, children with Down syndrome, and senior citizens. It wasn’t until she started working with adults did she realize where her passion was. She found that adults listened and wanted to learn. They had high expectations for themselves, and she found a special place for beginners. “I know so many people that have said they always wanted to learn how to dance, but they felt they were too old. They had been to classes that were too advanced or that were filled with kids. I want to create a place that catered to those that always wanted to learn how to dance and to those who used to dance as a kid and miss it. I want my studio to be a place that focused on quality instruction in a nurturing environment,” said Keri. Each class has no more than 10-15 students per class to allow for one-on-one attention. It gives enough space for the students to move around, and it allows the instructors to get to know each and every person.
How did you get the courage to open your own store and what motivated you?
I knew I always wanted to open a studio, and I finally realized that working 6 places doing what I loved for little money wasn’t working. If I wanted to make this a living and set it up the way I wanted, it was time to do my own thing. It was a scary thing to start considering it was only a few months away from my wedding and money was tight. My biggest support system has always been my parents. They told me to look at the numbers: how many people would follow me? How much would I need to charge? How much would a space cost? If the numbers proved it could work, then it would be a good idea. After sitting down with my dad, who is a successful business owner himself, and an accountant to work all the numbers out, I realized this idea would work! With the support from my parents and my husband and my passion for the idea, I was set to open my space.
How many hours do you put in?
Well at this point, I am the primary instructor teaching 12 out of the 16 classes we offer. It takes me about 2-3 hours per day to prepare for classes, plus the time it takes to market the business, work with my instructors to make them better, do the accounting, setting up events, etc. This probably totals about 40-50 hours a week plus I’m still teaching elsewhere in the morning at this point to help supplement my income.
How do you keep a positive outlook?
I love what I do! I love dance and movement and seeing people succeed. I’m working another job and would work another if I needed to to make this work. It’s not just about dance and getting in shape. To me, it’s a place that provides its students with confidence, friendships, challenges, and, most importantly, a family. The moment you walk into the studio you feel the sense of family, that sense that no matter who you are, everyone cares about you and wants you to succeed and feel special. I think everyone needs that. I just provide it through dance and exercise.
Describe yourself in three words: passionate, caring, positive
What do you consider your greatest professional achievement?
Since I’ve only been open for 5 months, I think my greatest achievement is knowing that what I’m doing is making people feel seen, heard and cared for.
What are your professional goals for the next six months?
I’d like to be a bigger part of my community and show my local area what we do. I’d love to continue to offer great workshops with some of the best instructors around.
How does your company stay connected through social media?
You can follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MeetUp, LinkedIn , Google+, Pinterest
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Hmm. It pretty much falls along the same lines, but I love teaching and so I’d love to mentor and help others become great teachers as well.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
It’s definitely hard starting out, but my husband and I make Friday evenings for the two of us every week. My family lives in NJ, and I make sure we schedule a time to see them either there or here every month or every other month.
What website do you visit every day?
Facebook! I love seeing pictures of people’s kids and weddings, etc.
What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
What am I going to have for breakfast! It’s my favorite part of the day, and I love starting it with a healthy meal.
What book do you casually put out on your coffee table to impress visitors?
I love photography. So any book that has great photos is one I love sharing.
What is your favorite spot to visit in Northern Virginia?
Burke Lake Park – I love walking along the trail. It’s so peaceful.
What is your goal for retirement?
Well, that’s a pretty long time away, but I’d love to be like my grandparents: eat healthy, workout, spend time with family and go on lots of vacations.
Do you have any advice for women who would like to start their own company?
I think the biggest piece of advice I can give is to find companies you think are great at what they do. It doesn’t even have to be the same type of business. Then contact the owner or someone who is a higher up who had worked there for a long time. I’ve spoken to some amazing people all over the world via email and in person. I’ve learned so much about business from them and it made me think of things I never would have considered otherwise.