Inspiring passion for art, while noble, can ultimately be a difficult proposition, especially if there’s a business element involved. But while laborious, it’s certainly not impossible if you go in with the right mindset, and a good plan. Chadwin Barley speaks to Beth Ann Hawley, who owns and operates her own dance studio, the Put Art In Your Heart Dance Studio. Beth expounds on the difficulties of having art and business intersect. Moving through this path might be arduous, but drawing from her own experience, Beth shows you how you can successfully navigate through this notoriously troublesome journey.
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Put Art in Your Heart With Beth Ann Hawley
I get to introduce to you one of my favorite community business leaders in the Lakeway Bee Cave area. Her name is Beth Ann Hawley and she owns and runs a cute little dance studio in our area called Put Art In Your Heart. People may know it by the acronym. It always threw me off. What we want to know from Beth Ann is a little bit about her business, but more about her heart and her soul and what drives her business. We all know that as an entrepreneurial business person, it’s that heart aspect that puts forth the service and product that you deliver to the marketplace. Beth Ann, thank you so much for visiting with me. I’m excited to know your story.
Chadwin, thanks for having me.
It’s exciting to know your story because when I think back on how our relationship was first established and built, I know you through friends of friends. I keep an eye on you through social media and that thing. We all know that what’s on social media is true, but sometimes, it’s also our best foot forward. I want to know the real Beth Ann and where you’re coming from. I know you and when we first met through a direct friend of mine, I know you as a stay-at-home mom and it was in the trenches, brand new babies and littles. The next thing I knew, you’re this amazing entrepreneurial business person out there killing it in our community. How does that happen? How did you go from point A to point B?
I taught high school in the Lake Travis area for a few years. I was the drill team director out here and I had taught in another school district that was not a good fit for me in an adverse community. I found my way to Lake Travis after some soul searching and discovered that it was an awesome community. It was geographically beautiful, so I fell in love with it easily. Driving out to the lake is like a dream come true. I liked the people. It was a family-based community of people and I always say Lake Travis is full of people that worked hard to get there or got extraordinarily lucky. I was one of the ones that were in the right place at the right time.
I met and married a man that had two kids that were in the third grade and kindergarten. I was immediately an instant mom and then shortly thereafter, we started our family together and added three more kids in five years. In the trenches is an understatement. I had always been a dancer and enjoyed dancing and teaching. I taught locally for about every dance studio in the area as a substitute or as a full-on staff member. I enjoyed it but it wasn’t mine. I got tired of working for other people to be totally honest. When I met you, I was a guest at a party or an event and I had been curious about sales, possibly real estate, and starting the next chapter of my life.Everything you want is on the other side of fear. Click To Tweet
I loved being pregnant and being a mom with little kids, but I always knew in the back of my heart that there was something else on the planned path for me. I started teaching dance about anywhere I could. I got tired of working for other people and thought to myself, “If I ever have the opportunity to buy or begin a dance studio, that’s my calling.” I was in the hallways here at PAIYH Dance Studios and my daughters were taking dance. I was watching my little girls dancing around in the dance studio and heard through the grapevine that the owner was ready to sell. I kept quiet about it. They came to me and said, “We need a badass to buy this business and we want it to be you.” I said, “How much? How fast? What are we going to do?” I went running straight into the fire and after 1.5 years, I am sitting in the back office that’s mine. I have 233 enrolled students. That’s where I’m at.
I want to talk to you about how you pushed through the fear because the way that you described it totally makes sense when you’re looking at the lens of hindsight. Let’s talk about where you were when that opportunity was presented to you and the immediate thoughts that went through your head. How did you bust through that? When we’re presented with a good opportunity, the good Lord comes knocking and our first response was, “What to do next? How? Why?” How did you get through that? That’ll inspire many others.
I didn’t realize that by being a drill team director and having five kids, I essentially was already running a business. I didn’t go to business school. I have three degrees in college and none of which have anything to do with business. I thought in the back of my head as I got older and I stopped, people with fewer qualifications were doing exactly what I wanted to be doing. Across the world, I have a large network of friends and family that have danced. I saw girls opening dance studios and I was jealous. I wanted to do that. I felt calling and pulling on my heart. I went with a commercial real estate agent to every commercial property from Steiner Ranch to 71 and 620. I walked all the properties and did all the numbers and figured out I needed a $500,000 to go from the ground up to build-out a box with a dance studio and smears. That’s not even paper in the printers or staff or payroll. I was discouraged and I was brokenhearted, to be honest. I cried a lot because I realized that I didn’t think I could ever make that happen.
My poor commercial real estate agent, who’s still my friend, took me through all those opportunities. I talked to other business owners and I asked a lot of questions like, “What does this mean? What does that mean? What is this tax? What is the price per square foot?” Every single place was different, whether I had to think about what a warehouse on a dirt road versus a commercial property in the mall looks like. I knew that I did not have access to $500,000. I didn’t have a rich father, large savings account or this is not the type of loan that banks necessarily want to give you. This is definitely a passion project. I found out that PAIYH was for sale and they were trying to sell it to somebody that would take off, run with it and take a good, well-grown business. This business was in its tenth year of existence and it wasn’t failing, it was thriving. It was known as the mass market of little kid dance classes in the area. If you had a little one under the age of 8 or 9, this is where you started them dancing. Everybody knew that. It’s a parade of cute up in here.
I was still terrified. I didn’t believe in myself all the way. I knew I had the skill, talent and network. I did not believe in myself business-wise and I asked for a lot of help. I sat with my husband, uncles, brother, respected business friends, and a lot of women that have done other projects that I knew like boutiques or offices of any real estate agents. Anybody that’s ever opened a business and grown a business, I wanted to pick their brain. I had to learn a lot. I’ve learned a lot. You have to be coachable and push past the fear. I knew that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and if I didn’t go for it, I would regret it for the rest of my life. Someone said to me once, “If you don’t try, you’ll never know.” I never want to die like that. I don’t want to be on my deathbed or go to my grave with any should have, would have, wish that I had done those feelings.
I’m the type that goes all-in and I’d rather know than never tried. I put it all on the line. I asked for help and I got help. I prayed a lot. I had to ask for a large amount of money and that was scary. I’ve asked before and I was turned down by banks. I had to go and get a personal loan. I had a partner that backed out and failed me in the ninth hour that was bringing in 50% of the money to the table. After I cried for five minutes, I sat up and I said, “I’ve got to fix this. I’ve got to go hard and figure out if I can make this happen anyway,” and I did. I put the pieces together that didn’t even make sense and here I am now. Face your fear. Everything you want is on the other side of fear and I’m a walking example of that. Being scared is no excuse. I’m never going to be held back by fear. It fuels me, to be honest.
Here’s the thing that I want to acknowledge that could be the elephant in the room and for other entrepreneurial businesses, specifically for women that knows your story. We want a partner that’s going to support us and I’m going to assume that your husband did, but what if he hadn’t? I would love to know what it sounds like to you because I know that I heard those voices in my head a lot of times. My husband did not put out there to me, but at every big pivotal moment in my own business when I’ve thought, “This can’t happen because,” we create stories in our own heads that are absolutely not true.
One of the stories I would tell myself is, “My husband will never support me in this.” I had to be committed to the dream that I would say to myself, “The people who love me are either going to support me and jump on the bandwagon or they’re not and I need to be okay with that.” I’m curious if you told those stories to yourself as well. The interesting part for me and for you probably as well because of the success that you’ve experienced, is that I tell those people who love me, wanted to see my dream come true, and they supported me more than I supported myself.
My husband said during the process, “If I could have afforded this for you, I would have bought it for you a long time ago.” I knew he supported me. He’s a businessman and successful. He’s got a lot of years on me and doing it. He’s a bulldog hustler. I understand and respect him more now than ever because I’m absolutely amazed to see what he gets done at the end of his day. He blows my mind, but I have had to learn a lot. I’ve had to ask for help. I’ve had to take down walls on things. I didn’t even use to check my email because I wasn’t receiving anything except for Target ads and occasional classroom notifications from the teachers, which I hardly even read those.
I had to change my ways. I had to become coachable. I had to set up a schedule and regimen. To be totally honest, even if he didn’t believe in me, I would have gone for it anyway. I would’ve found the way and I would have figured it out. I’ve surrounded myself with highly-aligned women that had to fight for themselves. Daddy is gone, the husband is gone, and nobody feels sorry for you. Your world is what you make it. I’m grateful for his support and I’m amazed by him every single day, even without the support. You say you want your friends to support you, but sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, those are your biggest critics. Sometimes, your own family can leave you hanging or disappoint you.
I’ve had to learn a lot and trust. My Heavenly Father gets me through a lot of that. Sometimes, I recognize that we live in the land of what if. I come up with all kinds of crazy scenarios of, “What if this happens? What if that happens?” Most of the time, we’ve invented all that in our own heads and it’s not even an issue. You’re going crazy. You just need to look at what the real issues are and address them immediately. A lot of times, it’s about communication and timing. Most of what we come up with within our brain are these what-if scenarios that don’t even exist.You might not realize it, but the things you do might just essentially be like running a business. Click To Tweet
We tell stories to ourselves in our head and whichever story we choose to listen to, that’s what our reality creates for ourselves. That’s what I’ve learned as well. That brings me to another point when you were talking about your faith and how that’s gotten you through so much of the fear. Here is what I know from a person who has watched you from a distance is that you’ve not only blossomed as a business person, but you’ve blossomed spiritually. I love that you have no qualms about putting that message out to the universe. I’d love to understand because I don’t know the answer. Are you growing there? Is this a new thing, brand new? Tell us a little bit about that and how that’s evolved.
My parents were great and I had an awesome childhood. I have one older brother and my dad was former military. He was a career serviceman and he retired as a lieutenant colonel, which is high up in the US military. My mom was a social worker, so she’s in tune with heart and soul. I was a school teacher for years, which usually means you are boundaryless and do everything for other people for a terrible paycheck. That’s the person I was groomed, taught and raised to be. In my first year of business ownership, my dad passed away and that was the hardest battle I have ever had to face.
I had to learn how to lean heavily on my God, my faith, and my husband and because my earthly father was taken from me, my Heavenly Father held me. I quickly realized that I can’t do anything and I don’t do life without faith and my God. He’s got my back. He’s led me through and even in the fire, I am not alone. It is not new. I’ve always had a walk with God. There have been times that I have been stronger than others. There have been times I’ve fought with my hand, tooth and nail. I absolutely leaned on my faith and my relationship with my God.
From my own personal experience and journey, I’ve learned that the more that you verbalize it to yourself, be that through a journal, verbally or others, and more apparent on you, that presence be calm. It’s not that we’re creating it for ourselves because I’ve seen miracles happen, not just in my own life, but in my client’s circumstances when I lift those needs up. It’s our awareness and that we opened that channel. If we don’t do that, the channel is murky for sure. Thank you for doing that. It’s always what I’m going to post on social media or something like that and I go out on a limb that way. I always double think myself and wonder, “Are people going to think this is weird?” The truth is that you have to be in line with what your own truth is and know that it all falls in line properly.
I want you to know and validate that about you. You’ve inspired me through your words and your own faith. I want to know about your perfect client, what your goals are for the school and how people can support you. There are a lot of dance studios out in the area, but as we all know like in real estate, the competition is in your own mind. We each have a value add to offer that’s different than our neighbor next door. Who is your best client? What is your best-case scenario? Who do you want to become as a business?
My best example of a client would be a family with several children. Anybody that wants to dance as well, come here, boys and girls. We’ve been known mass to the market for lower elementary and below, and I want to maintain that, but I also want to grow that. I want to keep those kids dancing with me. I want to upsell them. Meaning I don’t want them to take one class, I want them to take 2, 3 or 4. What sets us different aside from the other studios in town is we are non-competitive and I have no plan on becoming competitive. A lot of people try to tell me that that’s how you make money in the dancing and that is not correct. That is not at all what makes money in the dance industry.
I’m not interested in competing for plastic trophies. I don’t feel like that necessarily does anybody any good. I did it for a long time for other people and it creates more competition. My goal and true passion for dance are to be an avenue of discipline and respect. It can teach you a lot of things about your body, mind, soul and spirit. I’m not a still person. It has taught me to have that regimented discipline to stand still, position arms, and also how to be free and how to express. I want dancers to fall in love with movement and get excited about using their bodies to express happiness, sadness or anything that they feel.
It’s awesome that your program is non-competitive because for what little bit I know of the competitive world, we experienced it in gymnastics and in dance, was that it’s more of a distraction than anything else. When you are developing your own skills, especially at a young age and even through middle school and high school, you grow into the person that you’re becoming. All the rest of it is the costumes, events, hours, travel, and all this other stuff. It takes away from the skill and talent because you’re worried about many other moving parts. That’s a huge value add. I love that you brought that up because people will have the opportunity to opt-in or opt-out in their own minds as to whether or not this program will be for them. I love that we can help you get closer to that by knowing your definition of that. You are located in the Hill Country Galleria. Tell us the positives about that location being where you are and how to overcome if there are any challenges or what you’re doing to overcome them.
That’s something I thought a lot about. I did a lot of research and I looked at what it would cost to buy a piece of land. I looked at what it would cost to be in a warehouse on a dirt road or in an industrial park. I looked at a lot of things and options. Being in the Hill Country Galleria, the benefit is location. It’s an essential hub. Moms can drop their kids off and have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, go to the library or drop off dry cleaning and be right back. There’s a lot going on around here. I love sitting in my studio in the front windows and seeing the vibrancy of our community. I love seeing people walk from the apartments to work from the buildings upstairs and the real estate office down the street to get lunch. I love seeing the movement.
There’s always stuff going on, too. There are cool activities, concerts, children’s events, and the farmers market on the weekends. There’s a lot of movement and I enjoy that. I also have 24-hour security, which is a benefit when you run a child-based business of a mostly female predominant staff. Their safety and security are important to me. I do not want to talk much about negatives, but if I had to, I’d say the rent side. I definitely know that I pay for what I get, but with that also comes some backing in the event that something goes wrong. I have contractors and people here, maintenance men that can help me. It’s not just my fault, it’s my problem. That is a benefit. I like where I am and it’s a nice spot. My goal would be to outgrow the space completely and have the next chapter of PAIYH.
I want to ask you how parking is for families that are dropping in, dropping out because I would assume your classes are 1 to 2 hours max.You have to change your way: become coachable, set up a schedule and a regiment. Click To Tweet
Most of our classes for elementary age and above are 55 minutes. About half of our students take more than one class and usually, those classes are stacked one right after another. You’re looking at a minimum of 55 minutes in a parking space, if not 2 or 3 hours, depending on the activity level of your kid. Parking is a bare. It is a challenge and I have to warn my families to prepare for it. We’d have parking right out in front, but it’s challenging. There are two parking lots and a parking garage. What I do is I circle the building until I get my perfect spot. I manifest my perfect parking spot. I’ll circle the building 2 or 3 times until I find a good place to park. That’s not the most ideal situation with the Galleria events, especially on weekends. Sometimes, I have to send out emails preparing families saying, “Plan for parking.” I tell parents, “Give yourself twenty minutes to park, unload and get to where you need to be.”
Last year, I got to experience your holiday event for other local business owners to help support your business and vice-versa. Are you doing that again?
I’m still doing a lot of holiday planning. I feel like I’m behind schedule but I’m not. I’m right where I need to be with it all. We’ll definitely be looking for upcoming marketing on a sip and shops and drop-in shop, which is, “Drop your child off while you go shopping for Christmas and we’ll entertain them.” Also, we have camps here at PAIYH. Every time school is out, we’ve got a camp running. If you’re looking for something to fill your time with kids, we also have special events for holidays. We’ve got a Halloween party and camp day when the kids are out of school. We’ve got a lot going on all the time.
During the school holidays, do you guys take a break also or will you go for camps?
Lake Travis ISD takes up the entire week for Thanksgiving, so Monday through Friday. We will run a camp and skip a day for Thanksgiving and then have a camp also on the next day at the same time that we’re running little kid’s camp for elementary-age mostly. We will also run a drill team intensive for three days, so that’s a big one where my middle school and high school girls are trying out for area pom squads or drill teams. They will come in during the day and work towards their goals as well. I do two programs at the same time. During the holidays, look in towards Christmas, we’ll do the same thing.
You’ve been talking a lot about the girls and I know dances historically preferred with girls, but I know boys have opportunities, too, at your school. Talk about that so people can know what you have to offer for them if there’s an interest there.
Boys are willing and able to join any in all classes. We don’t have any that is exclusively for girls ever. Boys dance, too. One cool thing that we’ve brought in is a boys’ hip hop instructor. I have a male instructor and I do offer some all-boys classes. I’ve found that a lot of little boys that have never taken a dance class before are a little apprehensive, but they are less apprehensive if they know it’s all going boys and with a guy teacher. I have Mr. Rylei who’s super cool. He comes in and he teaches an intro to breakdance class. He also teaches all boys ages 5 to 7, which is a nearly full class and then all boys ages 8 to 12, does still have openings. That’s been great. That’s probably about twenty brand new clients that wouldn’t be in the building otherwise. Boys for sure dance, too.
One last element that is often forgotten with your studio is the retail side and what you have to offer there.
A little undiscovered gem here at PAIYH Dance Studios is that we also have a full dancewear boutique. Meaning we can outfit your favorite dancer from head to toe with leotards, tights, shoes, dance, wear of any kind, costumes, accessories, Christmas ornaments and gifts. You name it, we’ve got it.
My daughter needs a few things. Do you have all the sizes as well?
We do. We have everything up from teenagers and adults. For the drill team girls, we have your extra tights and your tan and black jazz shoes. Anything that you’ve left behind or has gotten ruined, I can replace it for you.You just have to be aligned with what your own truth is, and know that it all falls in line properly. Click To Tweet
With the holidays coming up, we need to remember, you can outfit your favorite dancer at PAIYH Dance Studios.
We absolutely will take good care of you.
Thank you so much for your time. Tell us how to best find you. Give us your social media handles where that applies, website, phone number and email. How do we connect with you?
Call, click or come by. Our phone number is (512) 291-2179 or you can check us out online at www.PAIYHDanceStudios.com. We’re also on Facebook and Instagram as PAIYH Dance Studios. PAIYH is the acronym of Put Art In Your Heart.
I want you to know that the Lakeway Bee Cave area is blessed to have you as a mom, as a member of our community, as a friend, and someone who inspires. Your community is beautiful. If anyone wants to log into Instagram and look for Beth Ann Hawley, you will learn a lot from her by following her passion.
I’ll talk to you soon. Take care.
Thank you, Chadwin.
- Put Art In Your Heart
- Facebook – PAIYH Dance Studios
- PAIYH Dance Studios – Instagram
About Beth Ann Hawley
Beth Ann Hawley is a 10+ year resident of Lake Travis, a wife, and a mother of 5. She is a former dance teacher and drill team director for Lake Travis High School, Killeen High School, and served as a long term sub at Harker Heights High School. Beth Ann has been a competitive dance director, recreational instructor, subbed, and taught locally for years as a private instructor. She has choreographed numerous award-winning pieces for schools, colleges, and studios, nationwide. She does contract adjudication for auditions and competitions, and works seasonally for 8 National Talent, a dance competition company.
Beth Ann holds a Texas Teaching Certification in Dance and a BA in Theatre & Dance from The University of Texas at Austin, where she cheered on the Longhorns as a member of the Texas Pom Squad. She also attended Kilgore College, where she danced as a member of the world-famous Kilgore College Rangerettes. Beth Ann is currently co-president for LTYA Cheer, and has been a head coach for 4 years. Beth Ann is excited to take over the reins at PAIYH Dance Studios, as owning her own studio has been a life-long dream.