Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Toni Mason, Owner of Dazzle, BBC (Baby Ballerina Certified), located in Memphis, TN, USA.

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

I am the studio owner of Dazzle, BBC (Baby Ballerina Certified). I teach little ballerinas every day. I get to create an experience for my students and come alive in class. I specialize in working with preschool-aged students. I am known for teaching babies.

If anyone asks for a toddler dance teacher, they will normally contact/call me. I am proud to have developed and become an expert in an area where there is surely a shortage of teachers. You won’t find the way I teach classes in too many places. I workshop and try new things with my students just as a creative should.

I have studied my dancers and learned that what works for one student doesn’t always work for all. I’ve learned how to navigate in the dance space to become a better teacher and communicator to them. Teaching this age group requires patience, love, nurturing, and guidance.

Tell us about yourself

How did I get started? Well, this has all been a childhood dream. I remember being six years old, riding down Pendleton Street here in Memphis, and seeing slippers on a churchyard sign. My eyes grew big when I saw those slippers. Keep in mind that I had never seen a ballerina or a ballet. But I was glued to those slippers. I asked my mom if I could take classes, and she replied, “No, Toni, I don’t have the money.” I didn’t say a word. I sat in the back seat of that blue Ford four-door car in silence.

I had finally taken my first ballet class at 23. My first class was with 4 & 5 years old. I’m sure you’re thinking… WHAT! I didn’t care. All I wanted were slippers and to take a class. This was the setup. A year later, after my last contract ended in Information Technology, I went back to school to major in dance in 2010. I was 25 at this time, taking classes with students who had danced longer and who had more formal training. I was determined. Towards the end of the program, I left due to personal reasons in 2012 and couldn’t complete the degree. A scholarship opened two years later, and I returned to complete 9 hours. I literally graduated with my dance degree at 30. My dance professors fought very hard for me, and not only that, God was making sure that the talent he had given me was going to play out just as he said it would.

I’ve been in business since 2010. I began as a preschool onsite ballet and movement program for ages 3-5. From there, I went into the studio space in 2012. I taught in a shared space of a Sunday School Room from 2012-to 2016; I moved into my very first studio space in 2016, inside the Hickory Ridge Mall. In 2019, I moved the studio to Cordova and opened a storefront studio space.

Today, I’ve had the honor and privilege of teaching hundreds of little dancers, not only from my studio but from city schools, private schools, daycares, and local studios as well. My reach has been more than I could have imagined, and it keeps getting better. Not only am I a studio owner and teacher, but I am a dancer too.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment has been the growth of sharing my love of dance with hundreds of children. On a yearly average, I teach between 125-150 students. I started with four studio students; this has been an incredible journey.

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

The hardest thing that comes with being a business owner is change. As a business owner, I am always looking at how to evolve, and sometimes it's not easy, especially when I've been accustomed to a process that works, but what I have found is that there are areas that can always be better.

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

  1. Get started wherever you are. There is no such thing as being absolutely ready.
  2. Keep your processes simple. Simplify as much as you can.
  3. Learn to build around what you have and be consistent. There will be times that you are frustrated and want to quit, but DON'T. It will get better and push through.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I have a Zoom LIVE Virtual Ballet Program for preschools and homeschoolers. Come dance with me for weekday morning classes. You can do so by registering through this link.

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.

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