Mompreneur series: Shirena from Dancesteps Studio

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We just love talking to the talented women of KL, that have managed to turn their passion into a business. If you have ever danced or sat watching your little ones practice, you have an inkling of how much work goes into running a dance school. Who better talk to about the ins and outs of it than Shirena of Dancesteps!

Can you give us a brief description of your business and when it started?

I am the Founder and Principal of Dancesteps Studio, which was established in 1999. Dancesteps is a dance school offering Classical Ballet, Tap, Modern Theatre, Jazz, Contemporary, Hip-Hop, Latin, and Pilates classes mainly for children, but also for adults. We are attached to two awarding bodies from the UK, the Royal Academy of Dance and the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing.

What made you decide to turn your interest into a business?
Dance lessons were a big part of my schedule growing up. I studied Ballet, Tap, Modern theatre and Jazz from a very young age and completed my Advanced level examinations by the time I turned 16.

When I was pursuing a degree in Communications in the States, I simultaneously studied dance and went on to get all my teaching qualifications by the time I was 23. Opening Dancesteps Studio was just a natural progression from growing up with dance. It was second nature, and I have so much passion for it.

How do you balance your time between the other aspects of your life (i.e. being a mum) and being an entrepreneur?
I must admit, it is a real struggle managing the studio and being a mom, but being very disciplined myself about scheduling work and still keeping my kids a priority has made things easier. My children now follow me to work and are taking dance classes, and they have a room in the studio to use for either playing or catching up with homework. That has helped a lot as I am able to work and still watch over them, especially my 2-year-old.

What challenges did you face getting your business started?
Getting the business started was very easy, because I practically grew up in a dance school and I learned a lot from a very young age, as I used to help my teacher by replacing classes and even sitting at her front desk to handle enquiries and collect fees. I knew exactly what do when I opened so it was not hard or scary.

My main challenge now is that the studio has grown tremendously and managing the schedule and tracking the progress of every child is difficult. The studio now has about 500 students and I have 15 teachers teaching in Dancesteps, so it does get quite overwhelming, particularly when we have examinations which occur twice a year, and also during our annual recitals.


What tips do you have for others who are thinking about setting up their own business?
Picking a business that you have passion for is important because then it will not feel like work. To this day, as we grow closer to celebrating our 20th anniversary next year, I go to the studio like it’s a hobby. It is so much fun teaching, meeting people, and best of all, feeling proud when I see how well my students are doing in classes and how much they can achieve under our guidance. The best part is that it never feels like work for me. So that would be my tip. Do something you love.

Information on the studio, contacts and links to social media can be found on their website.

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