Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Julie Pratt, Co-Founder of Fun 'n' Dance Ltd., located in Calgary, AB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I run a dance studio called '"Fun 'n' Dance Ltd." We teach our classes in a beautiful, sunny studio space in the Rosedale Community Centre. We teach dance classes for 3-year-olds through to adults.
Tell us about yourself
I began dancing in my hometown of West Kilbride, Scotland when I was 4. My first ballet teacher, Karen Aitchison, was a great role model for me and encouraged me to start assistant teaching when I was a teenager. I quickly fell in love with teaching and ended up studying at the Royal Academy of Dance in London for 3 years before moving to Calgary to pursue my teaching career at age 20. I started Fun 'n' Dance in 1993 with a very good friend of mine, Louisa Jacobson, who studied with me at the RAD and later took over sole ownership of the business and has been running it for the last ten-plus years. Ballet has been a passion of mine from an early age, and I find it so rewarding to be in a position to introduce students of all ages to this amazing art form and watch them fall in love with it too. I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to do what I love every day.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Probably having grown the dance studio from around 30 students when Louisa and I first opened in 1993 to our current enrollment of about 145. In those early days, we offered ballet and jazz only. Louisa and I taught all of the classes, and now we offer many more dance styles, including Acrobatics and Contemporary. I have a fantastic team of teachers teaching these different styles who are passionate and dedicated, some of whom started dancing at Fun 'n' Dance when they were 3 years old.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Finding a balance between running your business and spending time with your family. Running your own business can easily become all-consuming, so it's trying to create boundaries and sticking to them. I'm extremely thankful to have an incredibly supportive husband and two great children. I treasure my time with them, particularly during the summer when I'm not teaching.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Good question! Make sure you choose your location carefully, have a plan in place, and persevere. It can be challenging at times, but you have to hang in there!
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I'm extremely grateful to the members of the Rosedale Community Association and the community of Rosedale for allowing me to run Fun 'n' Dance for almost 30 years out of the community centre; it has been a gift!
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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