By Chuk Azubike, FrostburgFirst Mass Communications Intern
Amy’s family: (from left) husband, Eddie and son, Noah
When I walked into Amy Davis’ dance studio, Frostburg Dance Academy, I couldn’t help but notice the motivation and love that surrounded the room. The walls had paintings of phrases such as, “I love you,” “You are enough,” “You are beautiful”, and “Dance is life.” Although I had a short glance of the wall, I understood that Amy, who is celebrating the dance studio’s 25th Anniversary, is a person who not only cares about dance, but also the mental wellbeing of her students.
Before becoming the owner of Frostburg Dance Academy in 1992, Amy was a student at the Academy. Her previous dance instructor saw something special in her from a very young age and fostered Amy’s dance and teaching skills. When Amy turned sixteen, her instructor let her do more of the teaching. To complement her love for dance and teaching, Amy graduated with Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Dance from Frostburg State University, making her one of only a few recipients of a Dance degree while the major was offered at the university. After graduation, she purchased the studio from her instructor and pursued her Master’s degree in education.
As Amy ran the business, she faced the challenge of sustaining a solid customer base. With the rise in popularity of dance, studios were competing for more students. To keep her business competitive, Amy understood that it was vital to keep up with new demands for dance. At the start, the academy offered tap, jazz, and ballet, and through time, other types of dance, like contemporary, lyrical, point, yoga, modern and improv, were introduced in her studio. Although there were many different forms of dance, ballet was always considered to be the base of the academy. Ultimately, Amy’s number one policy for building and keeping a solid customer base is “showing the love” by helping students and encouraging them to grow as dancers.
When marketing the academy, Amy started off with newspapers advertising, which could cost $500 or more for one ad. Although she is not a major fan of social media, she learned to appreciate the positive effects it has had on her business. She developed a Facebook page and a website where she updates pictures and information and can use these platforms as advertising tools for a much lower cost.
In reflecting on her twenty-five years in business, Amy answered that if she were to start her career all over again, she would still be the proud owner of Frostburg Dance Academy, but said she would invest her money more wisely. She would make sure she spent her money on creating her dream studio in the hopes that it would allow her to work full-time as a dance instructor and give her more time with her 3-year-old son.
Amy’s advice for college students who want to own a business like hers is to be passionate about the business. Without that passion, you would just be working a boring job for the rest of your life. Amy also added that “You have to lay down rules for your students to keep them organized, and there has to be change.” Without rules, there is no order, and the business won’t run as smoothly as you want it to.
Aside from her business, Amy admires the Princess Restaurant. She’s been friends with the family for a long time, and she admires them because they have been able to continue the business from one generation to another. She loves the fact that they care about the community’s growth and wellbeing.
To conclude our interview, Amy explained that in the next 5-10 years, she would still be the owner of Frostburg Dance Academy, but she hopes to take a step back from teaching, and let give someone else the opportunity to continue the legacy. She also hopes to see the spark in somebody to whom she can pass on the business, and she would love to have other locations for her business.