Name: La’Tisha Price
Alma Mater: North Carolina A&T State University
Business Name & Description: EducateDancer Studio, Dance studio and apparel for ages 2-Adult
What year did you found your company? My company was founded June 20, 2014.
What has been the most exciting and/or fearful moment during your HBCUpreneur career? The most exciting moment of my HBCUpreneur career has been the opening of my studio. It has been 3 months and God has blessed this studio with amazing things! The most fearful moment would have to again be the opening of my studio. It takes a lot to make sure you stay relevant and constantly growing your clientele as well as challenging your students so that they continue to grow.
What made you want to start your own company? I have always wanted a dance studio. Dance is is something that I love whether I am the performer or behind the scenes. I also love education and the growth and development of people. These two things combined make me the happiest woman on Earth. I believe in having multiple sources of income as well as working for myself. I always knew I would go into business for myself, I just wasn’t sure what it would be.
Who was the most influential person/people for you during your time in college? The most influential people for me throughout college has to be my 3 mentors, Dr. Kenneth Ruff, Ms. Tiffany Brown, and Ms. Akua Matherson. My mother put me in the best hands possible and these three people truly molded me into a wonderful performer and woman. I struggled with balancing school and dance, I struggled with social ridicule from others, and these three kept me focused. They pushed me to my full potential and I am forever grateful for them.
How do you handle complex problems? I am faced with complex problems all that time. I first take a second to breathe and think things through. I always keep a positive mindset because negative thinking will limit you. I like to include the thoughts and perspectives of my closest friends so that I can have something to compare my thoughts to and then I make my decision. Honestly, “you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do” as they say! As long as the ending result is ethical and moral, I make sure I solve the problem so I can move on to the next.
What is something you wish you had known prior to starting your company? I wish I would have known more of the legal information. I think that is the hardest part to figure out because it’s a lot of phone calls, paperwork, trademarking, it can get hectic. Starting out most business owners don’t have the money for lawyers, accountants, etc. I don’t want to take out any loans because I am still paying student loans. So I had to figure out a lot of information on my own and some stuff I learned late, but better now than never.
How do you see Misty Copeland’s presence on the ballet landscape impacting your business? and African American participation both as participants and viewers in ballet overall? I think every black dancer has an admiration for Misty Copeland. It’s the same with education, our hair, our actresses, our culture! Whenever we see an African American woman accomplishing a major goal we automatically idolize them. Its beautiful! Ballet is French and a lot of African American woman don’t receive the acknowledgement that they should for excelling in the field. I work really hard to make sure that my young dancers are not simply “whipping and hitting the quan”. It’s okay because I appreciate our culture of fun dances, but to be a well-rounded dancer they need training, ballet training!! We have a lot of black dance studio’s that train African American ballet dancers, for example; Debbie Allen has a dance studio that is packed with African American (young) ballet students. It’s a beautiful thing to witness and I am so happy to be a part of the contribution with my own studio.
Being both an instructor and CEO/President of the company has to come with some challenges. What has been your biggest help in managing both roles? The biggest challenge is having time for me. Outside of being the CEO and an instructor, I also have a full-time job as an EC Assistant and Job Coach at a high school. I am also engaged to be married. I have a lot of things going on and sometimes it is overwhelming for me to juggle all of these different things. However, I enjoy being a woman that wears many hats.
What do you believe are some of the biggest headwinds facing the ballet industry as a whole in the coming decade? I’m not sure what some of the biggest issues are facing ballet, I am more invested in HBCU Dance.
Where do you see your company in ten years? In 10 years, I would like to see about 4-5 EducateDancer Studios around North Carolina with a structured curriculum! I would like to provide dance scholarships and send more dancers and students to HBCU’s.
What do you believe HBCUs can do to spur more innovation and entrepreneurship while their students are in school either as undergraduate or graduate students? It would be great to bring more entrepreneurs to HBCUs to speak, hold conferences, workshops, etc. I have nothing against corporate America and working a 9-5; However, I feel as if that is the ONLY thing you do, you are limiting yourself. Someone is in charge of your paycheck, someone is in control of your promotion. We have so many discrimination issues towards women and race, I don’t even feel comfortable working for someone and honestly believing that I would grow within that company. We should push for more entrepreneurs, even if you do work a 9-5. Have something to call your own.
How do you deal with rejection? I handle rejection very well. I’m a dancer and I am used to criticism and rejection because that happens in this business. I also have a close enough connection with God to know that he will give me what I need and he won’t let me walk into something that is not for me.
When you have down time how do you like to spend it? When I have down time I love to spend it with my fiancé! He is honestly the best person I have ever met in my life! We have so much fun together and I am so in love that I just can’t think of anyone else that I would want to be around. We both love to have fun, so it’s a guaranteed fun time when I’m with him.
What was your most memorable HBCU memory? My most memorable HBCU memory was dancing with Golden Delight throughout my entire college career.
In leaving is there any advice you have for budding HBCUpreneurs?The best advice that I can give is “Don’t Quit!” I often have to tell myself the same thing. When I had the opening of my studio I asked all my friends that attended to write a special note to me and to put it inside of this little box. Whenever I get sad, or feel like I cant make it anymore I read one of their notes about “how proud they are” or “how this is so amazing for so many little girls” and I keep going. So if anything, DO NOT QUIT!