Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in entertainment but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ashley Card, Founder of Aletheia. Dance, Inc., located in Columbia, SC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Aletheia. Dance, Inc.™ (Aletheia: al-ay'-thi-a) is a performing arts & character education organization that caters to the needs of families and students that are facing any sort of barrier that prevents them from experiencing the dance and acting art form. The program gives everyone the opportunity to learn high-quality dance and acting techniques and performances. Our core mission is to cater to the underprivileged, but our classes are open to the general public, ages 6 months to age 99.
Tell us about yourself
I was born and raised in South Carolina and exposed to my first dance lesson in 1992 at the Carolina Dance Company of Columbia, South Carolina. After taking a four-year break from the discipline to pursue my love for track & field and other extracurricular activities. I went back to chasing my desire to dance while still participating in track & field for an additional four years. It was then I discovered that I have a passion for not only dance but dancing to inspire and as a form of worship. I stepped out by doing my very first dance solos at Kingdom Vision Church's "I Bring My Gift To You" Christmas services in Columbia, SC, where Pastors Dr. Johnnie and Cindy White are pastors, at age 13.
I began to feed this passion by sharpening the gift through technical training. I learned various forms of modern, ballet, and jazz under the teachings of Leigh Buckley of Columbia Ballet School within the Richland County School District One's Gifted & Talented- Artistic Fine Arts Program and private lessons at the Dee Crump Ballet, School of The Ebony Ballet in Columbia, SC. I attended The College of Charleston, earning a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in dance. I received training and studied jazz/hip-hop, modern, ballet, and choreography under the College of Charleston's School of the Arts, in which the dance program was under the umbrella of Artistic Director and Choreographer, Robert Ivey of the Robert Ivey Ballet.
I performed by way of the dance department's dance ensemble and took classes at the Robert Ivey Ballet's Adult Open Division. As a dance minor, I studied the history of dance and its purpose while analyzing, critiquing, and learning about the choreography and technique of other well-known choreographers. During my four years of undergraduate studies, I initiated and started her first hip-hop and modern dance team at the College of Charleston entitled, "More Than Conquerors Dance Team." The card has currently graduated from Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA, earning an M.A. in Digital Media Communication.
While in grad school, I taught, trained, and performed with Hip Hop & Pop Contemporary Adult Dance Troupe based out of a small studio in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Attitude Dance and Performing Arts, founded and directed by Tara Bocock. After graduation,I completed an internship in General Arts Administration at a well-known dance organization, Dance Place, in Washington, D.C. From 2010-2012, I performed with a contemporary dance company entitled Refuge Dance Company of Atlanta, Georgia, under the Artistic Direction of Katherine Gant, while training and teaching in dance studios of the Greater Atlanta area, and holding a position as an arts administrator.
I learned the most working under experts and experienced business owners, Whitney Teyf of Expressions in Motion Dance and Nina Baldridge of the Gwinnett School of Dance. In September 2010, I took a different route by auditioning in front of recruiters of a non-profit talent development program, AMTC, in Atlanta, GA. After receiving a callback, she received professional training from prominent individuals in the fashion and entertainment industry. From there, I attended AMTC's Summer 2011 International Talent Convention in Orlando, Florida, and performed in various showcases displaying her talents in front of top media executives.
It was there that I was spotted by an agent for acting. Card is currently an artist and Digital Media Consultant/Client Account Executive for an online radio station and web marketing company and the Founding Artistic Director of Aletheia Dance, Inc at night. I am a certified K-12 Dance Education Teacher. My next step is to return online and earn another degree in Clinical School Counseling at Regent University. Card states, “I am far from being the best dancer in the industry, but I have a burning passion for the art form, the persistence in learning and growing from those that are considered the best, staying the course, and a desire to touch lives and express the Father’s heart through dance and its many facets.
It’s only by God’s grace and His hopeful thoughts towards me that I’ve even made it this far. He believed in me.” " God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;"- I Corinthians 1:27. Learn more about Ashley at www.ashleighmichele.com!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner was surviving the pandemic. Though our program has been functioning in Columbia, SC, since 2012 as strictly an after-school program, we developed our full school and curriculum at the beginning of the pandemic. By God's grace, we have survived the years 2020-2022, and our program has actually grown.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Be flexible in shifting gears and adjusting your plans as quickly as possible in the midst of catastrophic events such as COVID-19. We, as an organization, spent a lot of time praying and seeking God's face to come up with creative ideas and strategies that needed to be implemented immediately.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- I tell business owners all of the time to stay away from any debt. Do not touch any business loans.
- Purchase items with cash, and create all ideas and materials organically as much as possible. Be an original, not a carbon copy.
- This cuts out a lot of expenses and keeps your business authentic, pure, truthful, and unique.
Where can people find you and your business?
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