One week from today we turn 3! If you've been along for the entire ride, you know what a HUGE deal this is! We opened our doors on 1/11/2020 (yep, 2 months before Covid). It was a great day with SO much love + support for our new business. We were growing and had so many ideas + dreams. Almost 2 months to the day later, we closed our doors for 2 weeks...then 2 months....then 4.
The wind was out of my sails for sure. Do I buy? How do I pay our bills? Are people ever going back to dance? Will there be recitals? Comps? Pivot, pivot, pivot.
Then came the yellow phase, which almost shut our doors for good. WE were allowed to re-open...but our customers were not. Good times. Never want to relive that again. Pivot, pivot, pivot.
By our 1st birthday we were exhausted, terrified, but hopeful. We knew we were something special. We were different....but would others see us this way?
Birthday #2 was awesome! We were still hanging in there, but dealing with price hikes, shipping delays, backorders....oh, the backorders. Pivot, pivot, pivot.
We literally don't know what a normal year is like. Planning is so hard when you don't have real numbers. So, I do a lot of guessing....sometimes I get it right. Sometimes I don't. I learned to not beat myself up over it. Just learn from it and move on.
Most businesses don't make it past a year....and here we are heading into our third year, still unsure, still pivoting, BUT still loving our little store. We have built SO many relationships. Every single day I have someone I'm excited to see come back into my store...we chat, we catch up....
...and every single day I have someone brand new.....we welcome them...guide them...teach them...
My favorite thing has remained the same. When people from different studios bump into each other and are excited to see one another. Maybe they met at one of our events. Maybe they met through our Ambassador program. Maybe they recognize each other from a photo shoot. Whether we succeed or fail, that is something I will always remember and be proud of.
Thank YOU all for sharing our journey with us, and loving our Little Dance Boutique as much as we do! Cheers to year 3!
One year ago...
T'was the day before the country shut down. It was a Friday, just like today. In the morning, the store was humming with excited dancers heading to competition. Parents thinking they would get through the weekend unscathed...myself included. I expected lots of last minute Irish Dancers getting ready for their parades. I remember having some extra treats and goody bags ready to greet them. I had my car packed with my daughter's Dream Duffel and would be closing early to head to our first comp of the season. Keirah, my final Name Game Winner came in, and moments later I did close early....just not to head to comp.
It's been a long year. I could go on and on about the longest roller coaster ride I never wanted to be on, but I don't have to. You all know. There's nothing new to tell.
As we approach another competition weekend, I wish every dancer the best dance of their lives. Some studios have already hit the stage and it's been amazing to see their photos...their unity. Some studios are hitting the stage for the first time this weekend. Things may look different, but I hope you find it in yourself to find the good in every moment...even when it doesn't feel the same.
One of the most surreal moments during this year was when I re-opened and still had Shamrocks all throughout the store. In honor of our Irish Dancers and that feeling of hope, I'll leave you with one of my favorite Irish Blessings...
May your blessings outnumber
The Shamrocks that grow
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
May luck be a friend to ye,
And be with ye in all yer days,
And may trouble be to ye,
A stranger, always
May the lilt of Irish laughter lighten every load, may the mist of Irish magic shorten every road, may you taste the sweetest pleasures that fortune ere bestowed, and may all your friends remember all the favors you are owed
Just like every other small business owner in the world right now, you are facing unforeseen obstacles, changing your business in ways you never imagined, and you are tired. I know, because I am too.
We all started our businesses with an idea, a hope, a dream, and worked our tails off to make it a reality. We admired the fruits of our labors as they became everything we had hoped...and then Covid hit. For me, it was only 2 months and 2 days after I opened my doors. Talk about a quick dose of reality!
The stress, the panic, the unknown...that was and is the worst part. I, at times, feel like the epi-center of all of the studios. I may not be the glue that holds you all together, but I am a place of commonality...where your students prepare for the place that they call home...your studio.
In the months that followed all of the closings, I quickly realized a few things, and I'm going to tell them to you right now...
1. You're Fabulous! Truly, you are. Your studio was abuzz with music, instruction, dancing and laughing..and suddenly became a building of silence. I watched studios turn their classrooms & living rooms into television studios. I watched Zoom & YouTube classes take the place of live instruction, and don't get me started on the recitals...canceled recitals, outdoor, staggered videos, parking lots became stages...it was incredible. During an impossible time, you're never going to have every single parent on board, so you must do what is in the best interest of your studio, staff & students. You adapted, and for that you are fabulous.
2. Stay Present. After a few weeks of sleepless nights and driving myself crazy, I implemented a technique that I learned after I suffered a great loss. Staying present. Every time I feel overwhelmed, I go outside, take a deep breath, look at the sky and remind myself that right now, everything is okay. Even today, we are still playing the "what if" game. What if we close back down? What if I don't make the right decision? What if, what if, what if. Stop that. What if everything works out and you're even bigger and better than ever?
Once Upon a Time (before my infamous foot surgery in August), I used to go get massages for my neck & shoulder. After 1 visit I was hooked. Not only did my pain subside, but every time I left feeling calm, relaxed and hopeful. My massage therapist, is not only skilled, but an amazing human being. When I practice staying present, I bring myself back to that feeling of calm when I would leave her office. Thank you for that Anastasia Kopceuch.
3. Focus! Some of you may not know this, but I'm also a dance teacher and former cheerleading coach. I've had my share of Tiny Tot classes and getting 25 four year olds to do anything your saying is a challenge. When they would go off the rails, I would stop and say...Whoosah. An old co-worker would say it to me when I was ranting about something, and of course told me it was an ancient secret he learned in Russia. I later realized it was from the movie Bad Boys II LOL. Either way, it worked. It was a magical word that would suddenly have them looking at me with their hands out to the side, fingers together, breathing...meditating...focusing....
The reality is that none of us know what's going to happen next. We could choose to stress about the unknown, or we can choose to focus on the future with clear & hopeful lenses. Remember why you started this beautiful business of yours. Remember those first days, weeks and months of everything coming together, but don't get stuck there. You don't live there anymore. You are in the present (remember #2). Focus on the students you have today, not the ones that are gone (for whatever reason). How can you make their day amazing? How can you make YOUR day amazing? You have already overcome one of the craziest years in your life. Every single day, be grateful for this amazing opportunity and use it to move you forward. Repeat those words..."today is an amazing day of opportunity"... Those tiny dancers are depending on you.