Studio Success Story
We were almost a negative statistic, and instead, we are an inspiring story of success and hope.
The shutdown changed the world at every level and our industry was hit hard. Dance teachers had to find other forms of income and many studios closed.
Heart & Sole Dance responded immediately and adapted to the lockdown. Our team went to work and put in crazy efforts, shifting to online, cutting every cost possible, making deals with our landlord and talking to clients about pre-paying for lessons. We applied for, and got, PPP funds to take care of our team. Our efforts got us through and we were able to re-open with limited capacity.
But it wasn’t over. Coming back wasn’t instant like shutting down had been. We soon realized that it was going to be a long, slow process. Our front desk team both took jobs elsewhere so that they had income, which also freed up funds at the studio. It wasn’t a pretty picture. It looked like we made it through the shutdown only to shut our doors a few months later. By October I knew we would not have the reserves to make it to the other side of the pandemic.
I made one of the hardest decisions of my life: close the studio.
I sat down with Kat to tell her and she said, “no, that’s not your decision to make.” She reminded me that I had built a community and told me that we owed it to them to let them decide. She pointed out that as a community we had a lot more power than as individuals. 100 people contributing $100 each was much easier than one person putting up $10,000. She was right.
So we asked, and the community responded, not only with money, but with ideas and people power.
We are a success story today because of THIS community’s love.
In November, our fundraiser brought in enough to pay our rent for 2.5 months. That breathing space allowed us the time to apply for (and get) two grants that covered most of the 8 months of rent our landlord had deferred. We also applied for, and received, the second round of PPP which covered our utilities from the shutdown. This put us at nearly break even. Throughout 2020, our marketing person was amazingly generous with both his time and talents. He created campaigns, websites and FB ads to keep us front-of-mind so that when people were ready to come back, they’d think of us.
And it worked!
We hit the ground running in January with an 87% increase of New Student Specials.
While we miss our front desk team, JoAnn Lewis, a fully remote retiree is now answering our phones and responding to emails. She’s been a part of our industry, talking to dancers across the country, for over 15 years. She loves hearing people’s stories and matching them with the best solution. She gets to chat with people throughout her day, new clients get great information, and we get a friendly, knowledgeable voice converting inquiries into clients. win, win, win.
In February, we were 90% to covering our expenses and as of March we are officially profitable. YAY!!! Celebrate. Happy dance!
There is still much to be done… All of our instructors not only took additional jobs outside the studio but have taken on additional jobs within the studio, most of which they are doing for free. Many of the costs we had cut will need to be added back, so at first, our expenses will rise in tandem with our revenues. This is good news, it means we made it. The plan that started with ‘let’s ask the community’ ended up a success story ready for the next book in the series. The community’s generosity made space for one solution after another to show up. As a group, we created compounding success.
THANK YOU! Each and every person no matter how small a role you played. Kat was right, effort shared is not only easier, the process is more joyful.
We are a success story today because of THIS community’s love.Maren
One final note: In the spirit of helping hands, a small group of lovers of dance formed a 501c3 (Creating Spaces Foundation, NFP) to continue to apply for grants. The CSF mission is to help offset the excessive overhead costs that movement artists incur to have the space they need. Space is expensive and movement arts are space intensive. This limits access and makes costs high and pay low because most often, 30-50% of revenues go directly to rent. CSF wants to change that. If you are interested in being a part of changing that dynamic, contact Maren.