Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in dance education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mara Lucas, Founder of Center+Center, located in Richmond, VA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Center+Center is a company on a mission to revolutionize the way the theatre industry thinks, talks, and teaches about swings. If you're hearing that term for the first time, a swing is essentially the understudy for the ensemble. They're an integral part of keeping our shows running. But they often go unacknowledged!

Imagine being responsible for doing the jobs of 10 of your coworkers if any of them took a sick day. What would you need? Notes! And not just any notes - incredibly detailed notes that you could pick up at any moment and understand precisely what your next step should be. At Center+Center, we make notebooks designed with the work of these actors in mind so that they have a tool that actually supports them in doing their best work. We also offer a variety of educational resources to help teach young actors how to be a swing - an element often left out of theatre training.

Tell us about yourself

The first time I was cast as a swing, I had no idea what I was actually supposed to be doing! Despite going to one of the top 10 theatre schools in the country, no one had ever explained to me what the job really was and how to do it. I tried to do some research, but there wasn't much information available at the time. So I had to wing it. And I had some great ideas for organizing all the information I needed, which looked very impressive and worked fine until I had to swing into someone else's track. I discovered immediately that I hadn't truly understood what I was going to need functionally. My notes weren't supporting me at all, and it was a risk to my job performance. So with that knowledge, I went back to the drawing board and created a note system that I've used many times now to great success.

The only thing keeping me from getting it right the first time was a lack of understanding of what would actually be required of me so that I could plan accordingly. So now I'm on a mission to help other actors develop that understanding and even get hands-on experience before they have to wing it in a professional environment the way I did.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment has been hearing from other industry professionals that they wish they'd had access to the resources and information that Center+Center provided when they were first starting out as swings. Hearing that you have the impact you intended never gets old!

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

As a solopreneur, the hardest thing is being the director of every department in my business. It's been an exciting challenge.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Just start. Start doing the research. Start exploring the idea. Start building the foundations of the business you want to have.
  2. Choose something you're passionate about. People are much more interested in you and your company when they can feel that passion behind it. And it'll make it easier to work in your business, too.
  3. Hold tight to the things that keep you grounded outside of your business. Those are the things that will allow you to weather the inevitable storms of entrepreneurship with sanity and grace.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.