Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Teaona Bullock, Founder of Teaona Performing Arts LLC., located in Warwick, RI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Teaona Performing Arts is a dance company with a focus on entertainment and teaching. We specialize in Polynesian dance (hula and Tahitian dance) and Middle Eastern/North African dance (belly dance). We currently offer classes in Tahitian dance, and we are working toward opening more classes in the near future. Taking a class with Teaona Performing Arts is fulfilling in many ways: you will have a fun way to get exercise, build a new outlet for artistic expression, learn about rhythm and musicality, and gain a deeper understanding of another culture.
Experienced in entertaining in a variety of venues and for a variety of occasions, Teaona Performing Arts is a fun, sophisticated, and authentic addition to your next event in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and other parts of New England!
Tell us about yourself
I have loved dancing since my first dance class in 2005. Since then, I have studied Polynesian and Middle Eastern dance continuously. I even have several years of classical Indian dance training (Kathak) under my belt. I have always been fascinated by other cultures, the arts, and languages, which is what drove me to learn these dances.
I have lived in different US states over the years, and everywhere I went, I found Middle Eastern dance communities, Polynesian dance communities, Indian dance communities, and sometimes all of them in one area. I was never starving for connection with my hobbies. I would even join dance troupes in Florida and Texas, which meant becoming a professional dancer. I got a taste of what it's like to have dance as a career; though it was always a side gig for me, I was always working for someone else. A few times, I had considered what it would be like to work for myself as an entertainer.
I moved to Rhode Island at the end of 2020 due to job changes because of the pandemic. Once I got to Rhode Island, I noticed that the dance styles I had so grown to love were not widely taught or even heard of. This gave me the determination I needed to finally start my business. I missed performing and wanted to help build a different type of dance community in my new home. My love of dance and the joy I see on my clients' and students' faces keeps me going every day.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment so far has been finding a way to make entertainment both fun and educational. That's not always easy—who comes to a party to learn? Still, my clients always learn something new and significant about another culture after my shows. It is so important not to think of these dances as just putting on a costume and moving around. These dances are very much based on the cultures they come from, and that is how they should be treated. I love that I can entertain while honoring the origins of the arts I present.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things for me is that I wear all the hats needed to run a business. I am the face of the business (as a performer and teacher), but I am also in the background (handling finances, finding opportunities and leads, etc.). Being a very new business at just over a year old, it has taken a lot of self-teaching, time, and dedication to get used to taking on all of the tasks associated with running Teaona Performing Arts.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- It may seem very slow in the beginning, and that can be very discouraging, but that is not how it will always be. Don't give up too early!
- Be unique. There may be other similar businesses in town. Don't be intimidated by that—just make yourself stand out! You can bring something new to the table by being you and sticking to your passion.
- Make sure to collect feedback. For me, feedback helped my business grow exponentially. On that note, don't forget to thank your clients for their business and for taking the time to leave feedback. They are the key to your success!
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
For years, I wanted to start my own dance business. There was always something holding me back. I didn't think I could compete with other dancers and schools, I didn't think I knew enough about running a business, or I didn't want to face rejection in any way. Those are just a few of my past thoughts. I would advise anyone with these or similar thoughts about starting a business to just take that leap regardless. If you have a passion that you want to turn into your job, don't hold yourself back. Find out how to get started, and just jump in whenever you're able to do so. I wish I had done so sooner in life, but I am so glad to be where I am today!
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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