Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in training and education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Shauna Jurczak, Co-Owner, and Director of Maples Academy of Dance, located in Winnipeg, MB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Maples Academy of Dance is a family-owned business that opened in 2010. Our goal was to bring affordable and high-quality dance programs to Northwest Winnipeg and surrounding areas. Growing up in this neighborhood, we knew there were limited opportunities available for what we were offering. Our goal has always been to provide a well-rounded, holistic approach to our programs, ensuring that every participant feels like part of our family and leaves class feeling like a superstar. From our early start-up days, through the pandemic, and now rebuilding post-pandemic, we've always kept our values and mission close to our hearts - this allowed us to push through even the most challenging times, stick to our brand and continue to be a leader in the dance community here in Winnipeg. Today we offer recreational and competitive team programs to dancers age 3+ as well as an adult yoga program and parent and tot programs.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up competing in elite artistic gymnastics. When I completed my gymnastics career, I turned my focus to professional cheerleading and dance. Unfortunately, in 2009, after five seasons of performing and choreographing for the CFL in Canada, I suffered a debilitating back injury and didn't know if I'd be able to perform again. I remember saying to my sister, "If I can't dance myself anymore, at least we can create a place where kids can learn to dance and have fun!"
The good news is I did recover from my injury, and I can still dance. Even better, Maples Academy of Dance was born! I have now been fulfilling my passion for teaching dance to people of all ages for over a decade. Of course, my enthusiasm for business didn't stop there. When the pandemic hit, and things slowed down, I put my life coaching expertise to good use, creating Find Your Sparkle with Miss Shauna (www.shaunajurczak.com and @shaunajurczak on Instagram and Twitter), a lifestyle and empowerment coaching business. I know firsthand how rewarding it can be to follow your passion and create the life you dream of. After all, opening Maples Academy of Dance was a dream come true, and now I live my dream every day. With Find Your Sparkle with Miss Shauna, I'm able to help others find their value, build confidence, and find the way to live the lives of their dreams. Really, it's not much different than what I do at my dance studio with my young dancers, but more geared to adult life.
At the end of the day, whether it's in the dance studio with a group of teenagers or coaching someone one-on-one through a career change, my goal remains the same: to empower others to find their sparkle, build confidence, put their best foot forward, all while leaving a positive mark along the way.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
If someone had asked me that question a few years ago, I'd have a very different answer. Where I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, we had some of the strictest pandemic lockdowns in the nation. During that time, business owners were struggling, and kids lost access to their much-needed activities, like a dance. I was able to step up as a leader, joining forces with other amazing members of the dance community, to become an advocate for dance as an industry and, more important, for the youth who benefit physically and mentally from participating in programs like dancing.
To be able to say, "We're still here" post-pandemic is a huge accomplishment. To be able to also say that kids are back dancing again, knowing I played a valuable role in advocating for them, is even more rewarding. The icing on the cake was the finale of our first show back after two years of lockdowns and uncertainty. The excitement in the kid's eyes on stage, combined with the pride and joy of their family and friends in the audience, was magic.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Being a business owner is difficult. I'm not going to sugarcoat that. You have no boss to tell you what to do and no one you can complain to when things go wrong. Instead, you are that person to others. You have to wear multiple hats – sometimes, you even get to be the boss, someone's mentor, the marketing manager, the complaints department, and the maintenance supervisor, all at the same time. It's easy to get stuck in a negative head space, get caught up with imposter syndrome, doubt your abilities, wanting to give up. After all, you're the one in charge. You know the humble beginnings you started with, where you've grown your business, and where you want to continue to find success as you move forward. When your business is something you're passionate about, you can be really hard on yourself.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Trust your instincts.
- Know your purpose and live it every day.
- Never give up on yourself.
When you open your business, you need to have a clear vision and plan. When you do this, you get to know your business inside and out. If you have confidence in what you've created, trust your instincts in decision-making, stick to your vision, and keep your passion at the forefront, then no matter the challenges or obstacles you face, you will be unstoppable.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
My grandma always knew I'd be an entrepreneur. When I was five years old, she always said, "You could never be a teacher... you'd have to be the principal!" She'd also jokingly call me bossy, although she wasn't wrong. Looking back, I understand now that she saw I was a self-starter, a leader, and had a spark inside me to go after my dreams.
I'm also often asked about my experience/background: I have a degree in Kinesiology and a diploma in Communications, and I am a certified Yoga Teacher, Reiki Practitioner, Crystal Energy Healer, and Life Coach. I first started teaching movement at age 15, so without aging myself too much, I am proud to say I have 25 years of teaching experience!
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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