When this Mom-to-Be Was Laid Off, She Was Already Transforming Her Dance Instruction from a Side Hustle to a Business
By: Nicole Howard
A lover of all things dance since the age of seven, Brianna Hairlson, is taking the leap into full-time entrepreneurship. In April, she was informed that she would be laid off. She has worked in the corporate sector for five years, but the good news is she has taught dance classes on the side for the past six. When she found out about the layoff, Brianna was also three months pregnant with her son.
“It wasn’t the most favorable circumstances. I didn’t have six months of expenses saved, but I was at peace to know I have the potential to make more money with my business,” said Brianna.
In 2012, she graduated from Howard University with a degree in Business Administration and a minor in dance. Her advice for those who have a passion for the arts is to take the classes that aren’t sexy like accounting.
“I needed the business background to know how to operate a dance studio,” said Brianna. She believes creatives should familiarize themselves with various aspects of the business so that they do not get taken advantage of.
Brianna has also loved working with youth. While in D.C. she worked at the Dance Institute of Washington, a dance studio where Sasha and Malia Obama attended. While working there she had the opportunity to teach a hip-hop class with Sasha as a participant! This job experience gave her the behind-the-scenes look at studio operations and ignited her desire to own a studio.
“Youth and dance have always been constant in my life. And business has been something that I’m naturally good at.”
After graduation, she returned home to be near her family. While she looked for employment she found other ways to create income such as teaching test prep classes and dance. After six months, she was hired as a consultant for IBM but that work wasn’t fulfilling. As a consultant, she enjoyed being able to travel and the overall flexibility but knew there was no such thing as job security. Brianna saw the gap between her salary in comparison to what the client paid IBM for her work.
“At the end of the day, this is not my passion. You can’t leave a legacy for your children’s children by working a job for someone else. It’s a good job but it’s not making an impact. I work with underserved youth in Gary, I can see directly the impact of me being in my community.”
Brianna continued to pursue her passion by teaching dance on the side. Last year, she established a dance competition team at her church and they won first place in their category! The experience helped her realize that people believed in her and that dance could be profitable. The evidence was in the success of the team fundraising efforts to travel to Dallas, Texas for the competition. They raised over $17,000 exceeding the original goal of $11,000.
In October of 2017, she enrolled in the Joseph Business School and recently completed the nine-month training course focused on entrepreneurship with a foundation of biblical principles. This course helped her to create a three-year business plan.
To build her brand she created Bri’s Bump N’ Dance Classes. These low impact workouts are for new moms and pregnant women. She led classes throughout the month of June and started a kickstarter campaign to take her class on the road to seven cities. In addition to her own classes, she is a dance instructor at the Indiana Ballet Theatre and continues to teach dance at her church
Being a Mom is even more inspiration for starting her business. “It pushes me because I feel like when you’re a Mom you’re no longer a priority, your child is. I’m doing this business for my child so they can know you don’t have to go the traditional route of relying on someone else but you can create or forge your own future. I’m honored to have the opportunity to be an entrepreneur during this season.”
It’s good to be uncomfortable. You have to do it even if you’re afraid
You can’t allow fear to paralyze you
You don’t have to have it all together.
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