Candy Dennis has achieved great success in her life from early on, winning numerous titles in dance competitions and in pageantry as well. She always had a great passion for the arts and continued that passion into college where she graduated with highest honors at Dean College School of Dance. Afterwards, Candy Dennis continued her educational path towards another degree in exercise science at Salem State University. During her last year at Salem Sate University, Candy decided to open her own dance studio, which she then operated for 16 successful years.
Throughout her career as a business owner, dance teacher, personal trainer and professional student she has achieved many other amazing credentials in her field of dance and bodywork. Candy has passed the certification exam as a member of Chicago’s National Association of Dance Masters and is certified through American Fitness association for group and personal fitness training. Most recently, Candy was certified in Rhythm Works, a dance program designed for students of the special needs population.
Candy Dennis is also very passionate about holistic health and has completed 450 classroom work hours in massage therapy through U.S. Career Institute. She is planning on continuing her education to become a Clinical Bodywork Therapist. She hopes to bring holistic healing and love to many on hospice care.
Candy is hoping to one day open a Clinical Holistic Bodywork Center and continue her love of teaching dance. Her main goal in life is to be a great mother to her daughters and a role model for them and to inspire them to do great things in their own lives.
How did you get started in your business? What inspired you to start the business?
I got started in my business by teaching dance classes for a local dance studio and developing my own program. This was a new studio that offered me the lead teaching position at their studio and through this position I learned how to put on shows and develop a scheduled dance program for the studio. After two amazing years, the studio I was working with was going to close because the building was being torn down. So, I thought that this would be the perfect time to branch out on my own and design my own dance studio business. This whole process was invigorating and exciting to me. I went into this new adventure filled with passion to create an amazing space for young dancers to thrive.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If So, how did you handle that?
I think that anyone who starts a great new adventure such as owning a business has to have some doubts about the process. In the beginning, I honestly was not worried. I was young and full of excitement and determined to succeed. I now say I had blind eyes to the hardships that lay ahead when owning your own business.
A few years later, when I was ingrained in my business, I did start to have doubts. I would overcome these feelings by attending workshops for people in my business and learning from those who had experience in what I do. By attending these workshops, they would help me rebuild my confidence and give me strength to continue forward with my goals.
How did you get your first customer?
My first 20 customers all came from the same place: my old dance studio that I worked at. Since this studio closed down, these students wanted to follow me to my new location. It was very heartwarming to have so many follow me, especially since I opened up another studio four towns away from my original location. These students then decided to make the commitment to train at my new studio three to four days a week. Having them at my studio allowed more to come into an energy-filled studio. Finding new clients is always hard in our business and this is the most stressful part of the industry, but I try to remain positive and continue to offer a great product.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Besides referrals, which are always the best way to obtain a new client, I always do ads on social media like Facebook and Twitter. We live in a social media world and to not use these outlets for marketing would not be a good business decision. I also try to do events in our home town as well so other people in the community can see what we have to offer.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
To be honest with you these last few months of my 16-year career have been the most challenging and soul-searching. Just this past month I have made the very difficult decision to close my business and sell my building. I realized after some dealings with difficult clients that this is not what I would like to do for the rest of my career in this industry. This business has made me miss out on so many precious moments with my family. Even when I was not at my location working, I was always still working. This business had started to consume me and dictate my life.
When the time came, and I had to be honest with myself and make this hard decision, it was the most frightening decision I had ever made. Now that I am on the other side seeking new adventures, I am blessed that God gave me the strength to do just that. I advise anyone who feels trapped in anything that they are doing to get uncomfortable and go for that change. I am blessed that I had a great support system from my family and look forward to new blessings coming ahead.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Well, I believe it is not my business or my career. What I believe makes me successful, and it took a long time to learn this, is being true to myself. Living the life I want to live and deserve. Not falling into the trap of doing something that looks great to outsiders and on paper but doing something that fulfills me.
I always would ask my husband why he didn’t want to achieve more at his place of work. Also, why was he so happy just doing what he was doing? Well, I learned that answer just recently on my own. My husband felt a sense of pride in what he did for work, he loved his bosses and the people he worked with and, even more, he loved what he was doing. My husband did not care if his job title was not owner or president, he just loved what he was doing. For him it was not a job, it was a career and a part of him. He once told me that if we had ever won the lottery he would still go to work every day. Now, that is a love for what you do. Sadly, I could not say the same and I owned my own business. That is when I knew something had to change.
I feel I am more successful now in life going back to school, being a great mama to my girls and only teaching dance a few hours a week as opposed to running my own dance business. I do think I will probably own another business in the future for I love the entrepreneurship inside me. I do know it will not be dance because I learned that I love teaching it but not necessarily dealing with the dance moms. I also know the business will be small and something to do with holistic health. This will feed my other passion and still allow me to be me.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
My most satisfying moment in business was a very private moment. I have designed a dance therapy program at my studio that is just like all classes, but I work one-on-one with students and design dance pieces that will help them heal from hardships they may be facing. A lot of my students who do this program seek outside professional help as well, but I serve as another means to their healing process.
During one of these sessions, one of my students confessed to me that the only reason she fights to live is because of me and what I offer her with the dance therapy program. Without going into detail of this student’s account, this was a very honest and fulfilling moment in my life. This was one moment of many that I have had over the past 16 years and truly was the sole reason I kept doing what I was doing.
What does the future hold for your business? What are your most excited about?
Well, as I stated prior, I sold my business/building this past summer and I could not be more relieved and excited for the new adventures that lie ahead. I do hope to pursue another business adventure in the future in a different field but for now I am looking forward to teaching dance for other facilities and continuing my education into the field of clinical bodywork.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped your business?
I would say the most recent purchase I made that helped my business was finding a realtor. Like I said, recently I made the life-changing decision to sell my business and pursue another career path. It is fulfilling to know that this was a decision that I was able to make and was not forced to do. I am blessed for the new adventures that await me.
What is the best thing about your current job?
I would say the best thing about my current job is that I can have more time with my family and the flexibility of choosing my own hours. I always loved personal dance training and now I get to do what I love the most and that is work one-on-one with students and to inspire them to become great artists.