This week, I’m featuring Julia Schmitt & Kristen Karon, co-owners of Inspire Dance Studio. Julia & Kristen inspire their students on and off the dance floor, empowering them to become the best dancers they can be and also the best people they can be. Inspire Dance Studio is a model of how to make decisions that reflect your values.
For the last several weeks, I’ve been highlighting some incredible small businesses in the Twin Cities – it’s my way of lending a helping hand to our local economy during this surreal and challenging time. To learn more, you can read the first article in this series: How to Help in the Pandemic.
You can also read previous interviews with:
- Cardigan Donuts: 4 simple reasons why I absolutely love Cardigan Donuts
- Sprinkles & Confetti: 3 important muscles you need to hustle with heart
- Lauren Kirkbride Photography: the best way to let your skills shine bright
- Gus Dean Coffee: how to flip obstacles into opportunities
- The LinkedIn Gal: what’s your breakthrough vision for professional growth?
Stay tuned for more interviews in the coming weeks.
I worked with Julia & Kristen a few years ago, when they were just getting started. They were my first clients, in fact.
They brought a lot of expertise in their craft and a lot of experience working at various dance studios over the years.
And, it was immediately clear that they wanted to do things differently.
For them, starting their own studio was an opportunity to be bold and build a business that represented their values and build something they could be proud of.
That’s exactly what they did, one decision at a time.
That’s why I wanted to talk with Julia & Kristen. I believe the best way to deal with the challenges we face today – in our businesses, in society, or just in our own lives – is with thoughtful decisions that reflect our values.
START WITH WHY
“From the beginning, we wanted to create a dance studio that valued both its staff and its students. We wanted to provide quality instruction, but we also wanted to inspire our dancers to be the best people they could be.”
A lot of people think that getting into business is only about making money.
Yes, you can make money doing what you love.
But, for all of the entrepreneurs I’ve worked with so far, it’s more than that. Starting and growing a business has been an attempt to more closely align their lives with their values and principles.
That was immediately clear to me in working with Inspire Dance Studio, too.
The product, the thing that they offer, therefore, is the transformation their students achieve. Yes, through dance – and they are really good at what they do. And, Julia & Kristen recognize that they’re shaping young members of our community, which brings an added responsibility to their work.
Here are just a few examples of that: they know that choreography teaches life skills like discipline and teamwork, they’ve brought guest speakers in to talk about self-esteem, mental health, nutrition, and gun violence – and many of their classes mix age groups to encourage young women to mentor and support each other.
Julia: “We lead with both our heart and our head, which can be challenging. We always try to create a positive experience for our clients while also maintaining the integrity of our business.”
Head and heart.
It’s a challenge that’s worth the extra effort.
PRESERVE YOUR ‘WHY’ WHILE YOU ADAPT TO A CHANGING WORLD
I asked Julia how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted Inspire Dance Studio:
“We’ve had to move our business to 100% virtual, which poses some obvious challenges since dance is very spatially-based and the goal of choreography is for the dancers to dance together. We’re holding virtual classes via Zoom. And, we’re engaging our dancers via social media and by reaching out to some of them individually. Our goal is to maintain the feeling of community and family that we have built so that dancers know that we are there for them through this crisis and when it’s over.”
We can’t predict the future – we can’t even predict the next few weeks or months.
We have no idea how market forces will change, to what degree the economy will rebound, or what new crisis we’ll need to respond to next.
But, we can be flexible and willing to adapt in the face of change, so that our brands and businesses stay relevant to our customers. In other words, we need to stay true to our “why,” but stay open to “what” and “how” it unfolds.
That’s exactly what Julia & Kristen have done with Inspire right now.
Success is not a straight line. It’s a squiggly, zig-zaggy mess of a line.
The only way through is to make thoughtful choices and move in an intentional direction. That direction is determined by your decisions. And, those decisions, should always be in service to something.
Take the time to discover why you’re here and what your vision is for your life.
Use that as a measuring stick for every decision, response, and choice you make.
DANCE WITH INSPIRE
Inspire Dance Studio is open for business. And, they’re taking registration for classes this summer, which are open to dancers of all ages from 3 to adult. Class sizes are, of course, limited for COVID-19 and will also be available online if participants prefer to dance from home. You can find out more and register on their website.
I want to thank Julia & Kristen for taking the time to speak with me and for inviting me into their adventure.
Stay tuned for more, right here on the 321 Liftoff blog.
Next week, I’ll share my interview with another Twin Cities entrepreneur – Jeff Bull, an expert in brand management and digital strategy.
Subscribe to my blog using the form. When you subscribe, you’ll also get a free ebook: 5 steps to clarifying your business idea.
Now, it’s your turn. Here are a few things to think about this week:
- How would you describe who you are today?
- How would you describe who you want to be?
- What’s the gap between those two markers?
- What are your values? How would you define them?
- Try using your values as a compass to get closer to the life you want. And, if that vision involves starting and growing a business, contact me.
ONE MORE THING
Starting and growing a business is not a straight line. It can feel messy. It zigs and zags. It starts and stops. It can feel frustrating even for the most seasoned business owners. And, that’s ok. It’s also an exciting challenge. It’s going to stretch you. You’re going to learn a lot – not just about business, but about yourself. And, that’s why it’s worth it.