How a Dance Enthusiast Builds her Dream Studio with the Help of OnPath Federal Credit Union
Instructor, Director, Dancer, wife and mom, Lori Weil is the owner of Creative Dance & Music Studio in Harvey, LA and longtime member of OnPath Federal Credit Union. Founded by her mom in 1985, Lori took over the business in 2004. She has spent the last 14 years living her dream and teaching children the art of dance, tumbling, and music. After taking over the business she added an additional location, but soon downsized to one larger location to accommodate the needs of her students and growth in class size. Due to extensive growth and changes in the area, Lori was faced with the decision to remain in her current space or move her business to another location. With the help of OnPath FCU Business Lending team, Lori is now building her first stand-alone studio.
We sat down to chat with Lori about her road to entrepreneurship, challenges of building her own studio, and how OnPath FCU helped turn her dreams into a reality.
How do you feel about your new location compared to the old location?
The new location is a place that we found and can call our own. It's more welcoming, it's clean, it's safe, it's a good environment. We have more control over our surroundings as far as assuring that the parking lot is well lit, and everything is working properly. When you’re located in a place with 5-6 other stores you don't have as much control.
How would you describe the process of getting the funds to open your new studio?
I partnered with a community development commission that held an event called "Meet the Lenders" and the commercial lending manager of OnPath FCU, was there. I didn't think that OnPath did construction commercial loans, so when I saw their sign at the event the first thing I did was walked over and started chatting. We talked for about 30-40 minutes, he knew that I had been a member for about 30 years, he knew about my numerous accounts and loans, he understood what I wanted to do and that was pretty much it. I would say having that long-term relationship with the credit union made things super easy compared to some horror stories I've heard about people trying to secure loans like this.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned with growing your company?
Everything takes twice as long, and cost twice as much for sure. Don't take yourself too seriously. Never stop because the next day can be completely different.
What type of impact would you say your studio has on the community?
We really want to give kids a place where they can come in and be just that, kids. We have a great group of teachers and staff that provide quality education to our students in an age appropriate and family-oriented environment, something that is huge in the dance and art world. Also, the new studio doesn't just benefit my students, it creates job opportunities for those working in the construction industry.
What would be some advice you would give to an entrepreneur wanting to open their own business?
Plan ahead! Have a good business plan. Have funds prepared, because everything costs twice as much as what is planned for. Know your vision, mission and purpose and stick to that because sometimes you will find challenges that will make you want to branch off. It is good to have something to stick to so that you know why you want to do it and what you are doing it for.