We had the good fortune of connecting with Darcy Fagerwold and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Darcy, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
The question of whether to keep going or give up is one that many business owners are facing right now. Current regulations have placed numerous obstacles in the way of running a successful business. It has been 6 months since it was “business as usual” at Expressions. Within 3 days of the shut down we were up and running virtual classes online. Some of our students have been dancing at home since then. With current regulations, only a small number of students are able to come into the studio for live classes. We were forced to cancel our biggest shows of the year. With the cost to do business increasing while revenue decreases it’s no wonder that many business owners are ready to throw in the towel. If I didn’t have such a powerful “WHY” , I would’ve given up already. Children and their well-being are the core of my “why”. They always have been. Kids need what we have to offer now more than ever. Their whole world has been turned upside down during the most formative time in their lives. They NEED a sense of normalcy. They NEED to get out from behind screens and move their bodies. They NEED to be able to safely interact with their peers and they NEED an outlet for their emotions. Dance provides for all of those needs. So, I keep going!
What should our readers know about your business?
Dance has been my passion since I started taking lessons at age 8. As I grew up and began to teach, I dreamed of creating a place where every child would be celebrated and know that they mattered. As a teacher, I saw the difference that dance could make in a child’s life. Dance lessons can build confidence, help kids feel strong in their bodies, and provide an anchor during troubled times. On June 12th, 2010, as I was driving home from a dance recital, I was saying a prayer in my car when I received the distinct impression that it was time to make my dream of opening a studio a reality. I believe that dreams are planted in us for a reason. They tell us about what we’re meant to do; what our unique gifts, talents, and strengths are. I went home that night and told my husband I was going to open my own studio, I didn’t know how, but I was going to quit teaching and figure it out. Once I made the decision and started taking action things just fell into place – in truly miraculous ways. The people and resources that I needed to help me on my journey came into my life. I had no business plan and no money saved, but 6 months later I was able to start Expressions in a rented dance room at Lakeside Middle School, one day a week. We opened on January 12th, 2011 with 65 students in 5 classes. Soon after, I was praying and felt “it’s time to start looking for space to rent”. I thought “I can’t look for space- I don’t have enough money to pay the rent!”, but the impression wouldn’t leave. I started looking for space to rent and signed up to attend a class about negotiating leases. That’s where I met the tenant rep broker who helped me find our current space and negotiated my lease. That summer, we started the build-out at our current location and opened for classes in September 2011. Since then the studio has continued to grow, and so have I! I am constantly looking for ways to improve and it has been amazing to see this dream become a reality! When I feel discouraged, overwhelmed, and under-qualified I go back to my knees where I remember that this studio only exists because of the Lord’s help and He must have a work for me to do through it. It will exist and grow as long as He still has work to do there. I am grateful each and every day for the blessing of owning Expressions Dance & Movement Center! The studio has grown a lot over the last 10 years. We have an amazing team of instructors and customer care specialists. We are the only Youth Protection Advocates in Dance(YPAD) certified studio in East County. All of our employees are background checked and CPR/First Aid certified. We host both a Junior and a Secondary chapter of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts. We have a Student Teacher Education Program which provides leadership training and raises up the next generation of teachers. We also partner with the non-profit organization, Darby’s Dancers, to provide dance training to children with special needs at no cost to their families. At Expressions, we go above and beyond to keep kids happy, healthy, and safe. Since the pandemic hit we have taken every precaution to follow all County Health regulations and make the studio a safe place to be. We are fully tech enabled which allows us to teach hybrid classes with students dancing in-person in the studio as well as at home. At anytime we are fully prepared to switch to virtual classes without missing a beat. Our students’ instruction need never be interrupted, no matter what is happening in the world.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend were visiting the city for the first time we would definitely hit the beach, actually, multiple beaches! We would go to Mission Beach and Bay for bike riding and paddle boarding. We’d head to La Jolla Cove to see the sea lions. We’d spend a day on the sand at Coronado Beach where it’s clean and quiet. We’d make time to visit both the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park and maybe have a picnic at Balboa Park. Santee Lakes is also a beautiful place to camp, visit, take a walk, or rent a pedal boat.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I belong to a studio affiliation group called More Than Just Great Dancing. This organization is lead by an amazing woman named Misty Lown. Misty has been my mentor for the past 6 years. I can’t imagine how I would have handled the last 6 months without her leadership and encouragement. She has been an example of selfless service to me and has taught me how to go above and beyond to serve my clients. The other studio owners in the organization have become some of my closest friends and have been my support through the ups and downs of business ownership.
Other: Covid Update is published on the website here: https://expressionsdanceandmovement.com/2020/09/26/covid-19-update/