Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in dance education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Christine Walker, Owner of St. Clair Dance Collective, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
SCDC is a fun, affordable, and community-based dance studio located on St. Clair and Bathurst. Whether you are looking for baby, kids, teen, or adult classes, we have them all! We offer indoor and outdoor classes, camps, private lessons, birthday parties, and so much more! Although we are primarily a recreational studio, we will be offering a part-time competitive program this year for our teen dancers looking for more of a challenge.
We have over 50 classes to choose from, so check them all out at www.stclairdancecollective.com and use a $10 discount code "Friends10" even for a drop-in. We hope to see you there!
Tell us about yourself
My name is Christine Walker, and I am a dance studio owner and have been a dance educator for over ten years. I started dancing back home in Montreal, and my passion led me to dance at several different studios, then moving to Toronto to complete my B.F.A in Dance at Ryerson University in 2013. From there, I danced professionally with many entertainment companies and even performed in the Pan Am Games with Cirque Du Soleil in 2015. My love for teaching dance was where I found purpose and meaning. I have taught well over 1000 kids in schools, daycares, community centers, dance studios, camps, and more. From there, I decided to start my own community-based dance studio that focuses on the enjoyment of movement and health with a non-competitive approach. I wanted to create a studio that was accessible for parents where we offer seasonal programs. Instead of signing up for a whole year, you can dance for a few months and decide what works best moving forward. We have made it through the pandemic, and we are so excited to continue to offer these fun and engaging programs outdoors, indoors, virtually, and more.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is having our studio turn four this coming September 2022! Being able to make it this far is such a testament to my dedication, determination, and building a fabulous team of amazing people sharing a passion for dance education. It took me a solid two years of doing every job and every task before creating a wonderful team and slowly building from there. Now we have over eight staff members and an incredible studio manager.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone, and it's important to know where your strengths lie. I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur and run my own business. The challenges are the great amount of work and care every single day that you must put into your business because without the heart, there is nobody. It can be challenging to stay on top of things every day of the year; however, there are so many great rewards that overcome those challenges. Also, as a woman and female entrepreneur, there have been challenges where you have to work that much harder and communicate and be strong and resilient throughout the obstacles. Overall it's just been letting things go that are not important and focusing on the business, team, and overall strength of our studio.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Ouuu ok! I think if anyone has that itch to start their own business or wants to take a leap of faith and try something new.
- You do not need to take a course, have a degree, or have any knowledge about owning a business. There are so many resources for free that you can access on youtube, business websites, family friends who are entrepreneurs, etc. In today's world, you can research everything. It comes to real-world application so having the idea and implementing it is the most important thing. You will make tons of mistakes, but that's how you grow and get better and smarter.
- Connect, Socialize & Reach Out! So important in the beginning to network as much as you can by setting up meetings with someone you know who does something similar and pick their brain, interview them and get ideas. Go to networking events to meet other like-minded people. Go to business conventions and learn about what's current and in the world. Do an online business chat or seminar and learn something and take notes. The more people you can reach out to and share your ideas, the more you will start to solidify your business model and more.
- You don't need a lot of money to begin. My best friend started a gold business with 20k and now has a successful brick-and-mortar business. You don't need a lot of money to start anything; what you need to be is resourceful, know how to network and meet the right people and get out there and do it! A business plan is great, a logo, a simple website, and let's go get out there and get going.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Time is of the essence, and so my advice is don't wait. If you love something or are passionate about a project, or want to try something new, go for it. We don't know what the future holds, so go for it and take a leap of faith! And even if one door closes....another will open! Good luck :)
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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