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Today we’d like to introduce you to Rebecca Farrant.
Hi Rebecca, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start, maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers.
Well, it all started in Mission Hills, San Diego, in what was an old Arthur Murray dance studio back in the 1980s that had become a shipping center for a gift basket company. I used to do business in the building, and when I saw this now vacant space with its old original hardwood floors, I could not resist. And so, the journey began, as did the long days and nights of renovations. Sanding and refinishing the floors, ordering specific shades of paint from Ralph Lauren in New York, the installation of mirrors, and the arrangement of exotic artworks from around the world. I had many friends in the art, dance, and martial arts industries, so it was an easy transition to market and quickly start booking rentals, workshops, and special events. Don’t get me wrong; it didn’t happen overnight; it was a lot of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears. However, it wasn’t long before I realized the space I was in wasn’t big enough for the growing business. It couldn’t accommodate all the things I wanted to do, so I decided I needed something not only larger but more practical, and in an industrial area where the resonating sounds of drums and live music would not disturb the neighbors.
In 2019, I closed the studio and partnered with another local studio that I had fallen in love with while taking dance classes there. My artistic eye saw so much potential, and I just knew that this was the place I needed to be. Although I couldn’t bring all of my clients, I could bring some, especially the ones that had been with me through the years, and I could keep the pulse of La Vie going until something bigger happened, and it did. One day, while walking down University Avenue, I received a phone call from the studio owner, who said if I wanted the studio, it was mine. I couldn’t believe it; this was the opportunity I had been waiting for.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Was it a smooth road? Not at all! Just as I signed the new lease with a long-time tenant of the building, America Mauher, who had (and continues to run) her Tango Milongas at this location for many years, there was news that trouble was on the horizon. COVID-19. The first month in business was amazing and profitable. Everyone was so happy to have a “home” again. Teachers were marketing and filling up their classes, old clients were coming back, and I had a full schedule of workshops and events lined up. Everything was looking great. That was until March 2020, when we got the unforeseeable word “lockdown.” I will never forget that day. We had 5 amazing teachers united for what was a fun, energetic, and full day of dance workshops. The studio was packed with people of all ages, BUT there was an underlying anxiety in the room with all the talk of COVID-19: what it was, what we had heard, and what was going to happen. Suddenly, everything came to a halt. We had no choice but to sit and wait it out. As the months went by and the rent and business debts of COVID-19 continued to accumulate, there were thoughts and fears of permanently closing, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Not after all the years, I had invested and all the hard work. Determined not to give up, I busied myself by continuing to market the studio any way I could, using avenues such as social media for privates, zoom classes, and outdoor parking lot workshops to reach my dedicated clients, who were equally determined to keep the show going and maintain their livelihoods anyway they could. America installed lighting, built a stage to store things, and we painted the studio from top to bottom. COVID-19 was not going to stop us. Now, three years later, business is thriving, and we are busier than ever. Standing ground came with a price, but it was worth it.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Coming from a professional, educated background in the arts, antiques, and interior design, I have always been immersed in the art world. Not only in business but in my personal life too. I come from a family of artists, and my daughter and I were active in the dance and martial arts communities here in San Diego. It was through that that I saw a need and an opportunity to create an open space where people could create, share, learn, teach, and grow their passion in the arts. I was seeking something new and different where I could give back to the community. The opportunity to also express myself through the arts while facilitating the preservation of our history and traditions.
Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
Sometimes we have to throw caution to the wind. As I spoke of in my original interview, some opportunities are unexpectedly presented to you, and without the “why” and the “what if,” you have to make the decision to take a leap of faith and dive right in. It’s now or never. This is what happened with the founding of La Vie Dance Studios. Was it easy? No. Did I almost give up? Yes, a few times. There were days when I absolutely wanted to pack it in, but I did NOT. Now I can look back and say I regret none of it. I am proud of how far I have come and all the amazing teachers and people I have had the opportunity to work with. Not to mention the unforgettable experiences I have had through this business. The obstacles I endured are only part of the journey. It wouldn’t be La Vie without them. So, with that being said, not if but “when” the going gets tough and you feel like you need to call it a day, do that, rest… but always show up the next day and keep going!