Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in dance education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Chan’tele Rountree, Owner and Director of The D.R.E.A.M. Center, located in Tucker, GA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
The D.R.E.A.M. Center, which stands for Dance, Rhythm, Education, Arts, and Movement, is a dance studio located in Tucker, GA, for children ages 3-15. At TDC, we offer dance programs, camps, and classes in the styles of ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, creative movement, and lyrical dance. We serve the community of Gwinnett and Dekalb counties. Getting children involved in activities like dance is important for growing confidence, discipline, collaboration skills, health, and overall development. The goals of our studio are to build up, inspire, and educate young people to reach for and accomplish their dreams through their experiences in dance.
Tell us about yourself
As a child, I dreamed of having my own dance studio one day, and I was going to call it Chan’televa Inc. My business started off as a summer dance day camp under the name Chan’televa LLC in 2015 and has grown into The D.R.E.A.M. Center dance studio. The name of my studio represents how dance allowed me to reach for and accomplish my dreams. I have over 30 years of dance experience, 10 years of elementary education experience, a bachelor's degree in Drama/Dance from Spelman College, and a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from Georgia State University.
I have uniquely combined my dance and early childhood education experience to create a dance studio where children learn to dance and how to reach their full potential at the same time. Dance is what taught me what I was truly capable of from a young age, and I wanted to be able to bring that same experience to other children through dance. The foundations that are built in the early years have a lasting impact on children for their future. I started this business because I have a deep-rooted passion for dance and children. I wanted to create a place where positive and self-affirming foundations could be established through dance.
The D.R.E.A.M. Center does not just offer dance for fun and recreation but as a way to find the inner power inside of each student. At my studio, we work to uproot limiting beliefs and foster the creative dreams inside of each child through affirmations and encouragement through hard moments. After a student has been a part of our dance programming, they dream bigger, come out of their shells, and can overcome obstacles with a better outlook.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner was being able to leave my full-time job in the public school system to pursue full-time entrepreneurship. My last year in the school system was the 2021 - 2022 school year, so I am 4 months into the full-time running of my dance studio. It was difficult to run the business after leaving a full-time job each day, but I pushed and took the necessary steps to ensure that I could replace my income through my business to make that transition.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner is making sure that you have the right community and circle around you that will motivate you to keep going when it gets hard. It can be isolating as the owner, especially when you first start out, so it is important to connect with people who are on the same path as you and who can identify with the things that you are experiencing on a day-to-day basis. I used a combination of business coaches, dance studio owner communities, coaching groups and masterminds, friends, and family members as my support system. It can also be hard to ask for help when you are trying to build your own thing, but there is nothing wrong with connecting with others and asking for advice when you need it.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Your gift will make room for you. As I look back on my dance journey, it is so clear that my gift of dance made space for me wherever I went. When you operate a business based on your purpose and your gifts, doors will open that are just for you. In my time in the school system, they created an elementary dance teacher position for the first time at my school, and I became the first elementary dance teacher for Gwinnett County Public Schools. When I decided to get a dance studio space, I just kept taking steps forward, and everything started to fall into place. When you move authentically in your gifts, they will make a way for you.
- Find your tribe. You do not have to do this on your own. Find a community of business owners that are in the same industry or location as you and connect. Find ways to collaborate and support each other. My tribe is the reason why I am where I am today.
- Speak life to yourself. This was a huge part of the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. What I mean by saying “speak life” is to say and write positive statements about yourself, your business, and your future. When I first started, I felt unqualified and inexperienced. I had to literally speak and remind myself that I am capable, have enough experience, make decisions confidently, and that new customers are coming to me every day. I said and wrote these things daily until they were deeply rooted in me and until I saw what I was saying happening before my eyes. Don’t let doubt and fear try to stop you. Speak life into yourself and move boldly into the business that is in your heart to create or run.
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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