Confetti Conversation with Suzanne Gerety
We are so excited about our latest #ConfettiConversation…this time with our great friend, Suzanne Blake Gerety! If you haven’t met her yet, trust us, you need Suzanne in your life. You just do!
Suzanne is not only the second-generation owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios where she and her mom, Kathy Blake, continue to run a thriving studio (for more than 40 years!), but she is also director of DanceStudioOwner.com, the leading online resource for dance studio owners world-wide.
Through DanceStudioOwner.com, she and a team of experts provide information and inspiration for dance studio owners to start, run, and grow their business. Whether you are in the process of opening your studio, have a couple years under your belt or an experienced, longterm studio owner, the resources you gain as a member are priceless!
Suzanne was born into the dance studio life and brings the perspective of an owner, educator, mom, and businesswoman to her work. She has coached us through several challenging situations we’ve experienced as studio owners, and we most value her sound advice, calming abilities (when we may or may not be freaking out about something!) and business-minded thinking.
So yes, you need Suzanne in your life! We are lucky to call her our friend, and are excited to share our Confetti Conversation with you! So, let’s get to it!
When did you first become involved in the dance world?
Before I was born! I’m an only child, and my mom opened the dance studio before she had me. Every year of my life I have been at a recital in June. Growing up in the studio was all I knew, so it seemed normal to me to always be taking a dance class and helping with costumes. The performances were the next best thing to Christmas and they always felt so magical as a child.
How long have you owned your business?
Our studio is celebrating it’s 43rd year (I’m the second generation owner, my mom is still the owner/artistic director). I started DanceStudioOwner.com in 2008 and in 2013 we became a part of the Revolution Dancewear family of brands. I’m now the director of DSO on the team with REV UP Brands.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Always invest in your own personal development because your life and your business will only benefit from your expanded growth.
Favorite book, magazine, quote?
Favorite Book: Gosh there are so many I love, but “Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown and “10-10-10” by Suzy Welch are a couple of my faves.
Favorite Magazine: O, The Oprah Magazine
Favorite Quote: “Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it.” – Wilferd Peterson
What’s a mistake you’ve made (or watched someone else make) that you learned from?
Wow, I love learning from mistakes and I’ve made plenty. 🙂
1. Use every mistake as an opportunity to grow and learn from. You can literally use every parent upset, major student issue, and business challenge as a way to improve or get clearer on your studio’s mission/vision. While it feels uncomfortable at times, it’s the raw material for growth and maturity.
2. Don’t try to do everything yourself, you’ll burn out fast. Surround yourself with people who are smart and talented and can help you where you are weak! You didn’t open a dance studio to be a bookkeeper or a cleaning lady…find creative ways to stay in the lane of what you do best.
3. Get comfortable with change. Everything is always changing, that’s the truth. Technology evolves the minute you think you’ve figured it out. Your dance studio program needs become different as your student base grows. It’s ok…nothing is wrong. You have to be willing to take some risks in order to grow your business.
Do you have any productivity hacks?
I’m an inbox to zero girl. Which means I am diligent about labeling, filing, putting tasks around and taking action on email. I sleep better when I have minimal email in my inbox. We use google heavily, so I use gmail and folders and docs with our studio. I also use a project management software called Podio so I can take an email out of my inbox and put it into a project, task, etc with due dates and reminders. I chunk my time to handle this, rather than doing it as emails come in.
What’s your creative process?
Messy! And I actually know this is a strength of mine, I’m not afraid to toss out the craziest of ideas that become something good and useful. If you can relate, awesome…this is a good thing. People who know me well know that I am a swirl of ideas and thoughts and concepts before I get to a more clear and easy to understand presentation or program. I often just jot ideas down into a note pad, create random playlists that inspire me at this moment, cut out pictures, etc. This goes for anything I’m doing from writing marketing style emails to webinar presentations and more. For the linear organized types I drive them crazy 😉 But eventually I get there. It’s like this when I cook too, kitchen is a mess but the food tastes great once I’m done!
Who or what inspires you?
Positive, passionate people inspire me. They can be people I know or just by watching a TED Talk or reading a great book.
Who is your dance icon?
Michael Jackson. Sounds crazy but some of my fondest moments as a child were dancing to the Thriller album. I think childhood dance memories are golden.
When you face a creativity block or an uninspired day/week/month, how do you move yourself out of it?
I go for a walk outside, go to the gym/yoga, read a book, clean out a closet (this really helps!), purge some old files or papers. I don’t try to push through it, instead I back off and then come back to it.
What encourages you the most about the dance world today?
I think dance has become more mainstream and accessible to many in ways both in person and through technology. We are one-global dance community and I love that.
Becoming a part of the Revolution family of brands has been a tremendous opportunity for me to be able to reach more studio owners all over the world and help them keep their passion for dance alive as they grow their business. The world needs dance and it starts with the studio owners opening their doors.
What’s the most fulfilling part of your job?
At our dance studio, it’s two-fold. 1. Watching a parent get teared up when their dancer is on stage, which in turn cues my crying, but it’s like they ‘get it’. 2. it’s knowing that we’ve created a dance family for our faculty and staff (many who have worked with us for over 20 years!). With DanceStudioOwner.com it’s connecting in person and online with studio owners and hearing about the victories and successes they have had as a result of the information they have used from our resource.
What’s next for you and your business?
There’s always something fun on the horizon. I’ll be speaking at many of the summer dance conferences including: Calgary Dance Teacher Expo, Dance Teacher Summit, Toronto Dance Teacher Expo, and the Twinkle Star Dance Convention this summer. You can also connect with me at the UDMA fall shows. I love, love, love connecting with our studio owner friends. Hope to see you there!
As you know, Confetti on the Dance Floor is all about celebrating fun, positive and inspirational moments! Tell us about your most confetti-worthy moment?
We had a lock-in recently with all of our dance team kids and seeing 50 kids in sleeping bags all around the studio melted my heart. These dancers love each other and through all the ups and downs of running a competitive program, I wouldn’t trade the positives for anything. The sharing of the photos that our kids do on Instagram is also something that makes the use of social media positive, and I always connect with our dancers there, too.
OK, on to some fun, quick-fire questions. You know, the really important stuff…
Cocktails or Mocktails?
Coffee or tea?
Queso or Guac?
Pizza or tacos?
Face blowing a kiss
Morning person or night owl?
Take out or Dine in?
Broadway or Hollywood?
Netflix or Big Screen?
Sequins or sweats?
We hope you enjoyed getting to know Suzanne better! And, we especially want to thank Suzanne for spending this time with us, and for all the great advice she has offered us over the years. We’re so glad to call you our friend!