Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in entertainment but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kenny Nelson, Founder of Swingin' Denver, located in Denver, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is Swingin' Denver, and we're focused on growing the swing dance community through offering fun & dynamic classes, creating live music events across Metro Denver, and collaborating with people and places.
Our customers range from 13-65+, and they're a mix of future dancers, current dancers, swing music aficionados, families, and young professionals and cover a wide demographic. Currently, we mainly teach Lindy Hop, a vernacular dance that sprung from the Black community of Harlem in the late 1920s.
Tell us about yourself
I started Swingin' Denver out of a desire to capture the best of what I saw during my international vernacular dance teaching travels. That meant dance classes that truly valued movement and music on multiple levels in order to meet people where they're at in their dance journey along with providing mentorship programs, collaborations with different types of venues, and celebrating community and dancing to music at parties.
What motivates me and my core team is the desire to share what vernacular dance is and celebrate its hallmarks such as improvisation, creativity, the aesthetic of cool, call-and-response, and more.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
It's hard to pinpoint this, but our 6+ years collaboration with Little Man Ice Cream stands out. They're one of our first collaborators, and we've grown a monthly summer swing band series into an annual tradition featuring 13+ weeks of live music and beginner Lindy Hop instruction outdoors under the lights.
This has allowed us to introduce swing dancing to thousands of people over the years, training dozens of instructors and featuring so many swing bands, and this partnership has paved the way for other collaboration opportunities. Little Man Ice Cream is a great community leader.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest struggles is to know where to put your marketing spend to get people in the door. We were on hiatus from September 2019 through March 2022, and the landscape feels different, so we're focused on learning, paying attention, and evolving.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be willing to put yourself out there as the business owner to talk about your brand.
- Welcome change. This could materialize as you modify your curriculum to make a greater student impact, change your website to be more elderly-friendly, or improve how you represent a vernacular dance.
- Be communicative through your various platforms, whether that's social, e-commerce, Google Business Page, and in-person.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
We enjoy connecting with people and collaborating. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about what we do or how we can work together.
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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