We had the good fortune of connecting with Laci Chisholm and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laci, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Even though it had always been my dream to operate my own dance studio, it was a dream that simply remained a wish for many years. In 2009, I found myself extremely unhappy and working a stressful job which left little time for dance. As a result, I developed poor eating habits, became overweight, suffered from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, and I always felt stressed. I hated the way I felt and the way I looked. When my doctor recommended medication for my mounting health issues, I decided it was time to make room for what I loved – DANCE; my natural stress reliever! By making time for dance again, I was finally motivated to take control of my health. Realizing how hard it was to find a single facility that offered affordable, effective, fun, quality dance and fitness classes and provided a sense of community, Fit4Dance was born.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
2020 was a transformative year, and although it looked very different from previous years, I am grateful that I was still able to sustain my business and support my community. I run all parts of my business with the exception of accounting and taxes. In addition to teaching 10-15 classes on the Fit4Dance schedule, I teach dance and fitness classes to corporations, sororities around the country, middle school youth, and people who want to celebrate something special in their lives. I hire and support my teaching staff while also providing opportunities for their professional growth. I manage and create Fit4Dance’s advertising, marketing, and social media. I research, write, and submit grant proposals. I develop partnerships with organizations to provide opportunities for my business, my teachers, and the community. I organize charitable projects and events in partnership with non profits organizations that I respect and admire. I handle all operations related to our physical space. In 2020, I received grants from Caress, IFundWomen, and Facebook. I received several awards and recognition including the American Express & IfundWomen national 100 for 100 program and the NY State Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 by the US Small Business Administration. I’ve been asked to speak about my business experience and expertise including Senator Zellnor Myrie’s Small Business Roundtable, Loyola Marymount University’s annual Business as a Force for Good Annual Ethics Symposium, Power Forward Black Business Conference sponsored by the SBA, BOC Brooklyn/Staten Island Women’s Business Center, and LDCENY Brooklyn Women’s Business Center, and the Black Wellness Weekend Virtual Retreat, I’ve been interviewed, featured, and highlighted on several websites, blogs, podcasts, and shows including The Backpack Show with Chris Brogan & Kerry O’Shea, Entreprenista, Elevated Lux, China Plus, Black Women Making Bold Moves in the Arts, Thrive Global, and McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden Mosaic Campaign. I teach weekly Reading and Dance to homeschooled children ages 3-12 around the country with Hands In Coop. I also attend and co facilitate biweekly meetings with a powerful women’s business support group.
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 was coming to visit me in Brooklyn, we’d have a blast! Let’s talk Pre-Covid – New York City Summer. I’d take my bestie to all of my go-to restaurants. We’d have Senegalese food from Cafe Rue Dix, Italian from Centianni, Biscuits from Brown Butter NYC, doughnuts from Dough, blueberry jamboree and banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery, Chick-Fil-A in downtown Brooklyn, delicious Jamaican food at Royal Cuisine, and authentic Haitian food at Bebe Fritay. We’d attend the BRIC summer concerts that take place at Prospect Park. We’d also go roller skating at Prospect Park. We’d walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and visit Brooklyn Bridge Park. We’d get custom t-shirts made at Creative Custom Clothing on Nostrand Ave.We’d spend a day or two in my beautiful, spacious, sun filled apartment and have in home massages by Sarah Annear, a private vegan cooking class from Naliaka Wakhisi, and get into our artistic side by having Kina Thomas of Sip N Paint with Creativity come lead us in a paint class while sip on delicions adult drinks from DrinksByLisaD. When we ventured back outside, we’d get drinks and watch an outdoor movie (usually an old classic) at Habana Outpost. We’d watch a movie (new release) while being served delicious food and drinks at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. We’d attend the Dance Africa event held each summer at BAM. We’d have tickets for the dance show which always features dancers from around the world and we’d shop and support the unique vendors at the street fair. We’d go to Rockaway Beach and Riis beach to soak up the sun and be calmed by the waves. We’d rent a citibike and ride through Shirley Chisholm Park. We’d go dancing and soak up the vibes at Bembe and Kinfolk. We’d visit the Brooklyn Museum and catch their incredible 1st Saturday events. We’d stumble upon a karaoke spot in Midtown Manhattan. Without fail, we’d be taking at least one dance/fitness class with Fit4Dance each day. We’d also reach out to Brooklyn Community Services to see what charitable project we could support while my bestie is in town. So much to do in one week!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The Brooklyn Women’s Business Outreach Center (BOC) directed by my amazing mentor, Delia Awusi, has been instrumental in the success of my business. Since working with Delia and BOC, Fit4Dance has transformed from an idea, to a plan, to an award winning storefront serving the needs of its community. The quality and relevance of workshops, purposeful networking opportunities, and level of support, love, and recognition I’ve received from such knowledgeable, committed, and positive staff has made a world of difference in the success of my business. I am extremely grateful for BOC and Delia Awusi.
Adam Wamsley photo credit for both group shots.