The Richmond Dance Studio opened last September in space previously occupied by Unleashed Pet Food & Supplies in the Round Church Plaza. Unleashed moved next door. Ysabel Trujillo and Mark Cassler, owners give us a glimpse of themselves and their new business below.
Larry:Tell me a bit about yourself. Where were you born, grew up, went to school, interests, hobbies, family, how you came to live in Richmond…?
Mark: I was born and grew up in Burlington. I attended Burlington high school, Drake University and UVM where I received a BS in Business administration with majors in Marketing and Management. Interests include investing, business start ups and technology. Hobbies include golf, baseball umpiring, volunteer work. Family: Two sons Daniel and Darin. Moved to Richmond in 2003 from Shelburne when Ysabel moved here from Montreal.
Ysabel: Born in Chicago and grew up in Rome Italy. Lived in Argentina after college and later relocated to Montreal. Moved to Richmond in 2003. Attended the Marymount International School, Wellesley College with majors in Sociology and English. Attended the London School of Economics–Masters in Sociology. Two daughters and a son who live in Canada.
Larry:What would people be surprised to know about you?
Mark: Owner and CFO of Casslers Toys of Burlington for over 30 years. Involved in youth baseball and charity work. President of the Vermont Baseball Umpires Association–We work with all Vermont schools and the VPA to insure that all schools have well trained quality baseball umpires. Extensive work in the selection and training of all playoff and championship high school umpires.
Ysabel: International correspondent for the Chicago Tribune stationed in Buenos Aires Argentina for nine years. Moved to Montreal and wrote and published books on investing. Writer for Business week magazine. Top producer at Investor’s Group Financial Advisors. Marketing director for the Canadian fashion industry. Avid horse owner and breeder. Also a breeder of AKC registered Mini Dachshund’s.
Larry: What motivated you to start the Richmond Dance Studio?
Mark: I’ve been looking to buy or start a business for a couple of years.
Ysabel: I always wanted to own a dance studio.
We started looking to see if the business plan was workable in Richmond to offer a new service to the community. It all came together over about 5 months and we opened in September.
Larry: Tell me about what types of dancing, the exercise classes you offer and your instructor network.
Ysabel / Mark: We needed to offer a variety of dance catering to all ages with the ability to be flexible and adjust using a state of the art facilty. Ysabel found a perfect space at the Richmond Round Church Plaza. We equipped the space with a professional padded ballet floor, stage lighting and a cheerful color scheme.Ysabel went out with the mission to find the best instructors possible. We feel we have them. This is crucial to a business like ours. We offer classes in Ballet, Zumba, Yoga, Breakdancing, Dance Stretch and Toning and fitness.. We are always looking to add more classes when needed. We plan to offer summer camps in July and August.
We have classes for beginners and more advanced students, pre-school ballet for ages 3-5, an after school program with bus drop off, morning and evening classes for Teens, Adults and Seniors. We were approached by a group of working folks in Richmond and asked if we could come up with classes at noon. One week later we started giving noon time classes for people who work in Richmond and need a break during the day that has been well received. We still have a few spaces open and will add more classes as needed during the 12:00-1:00 pm time frame.
Larry: What challenges have you faced in starting your business and how have you solved them?
Ysabel / Mark: The biggest challenge in starting the business was to understand what our students needs and wants were. We started out small so that we could be very flexible as far as adding classes and the times we give them. We want the studio to have a very unique atmosphere that was community friendly. We never intended it to be a dance factory. It’s important that our students love to come to us so we have to be consistent. We are already starting to brand the business in a very positive way. Our students know what to expect and the community has been very supportive.
Larry: What has surprised you in the process of starting your business?
Ysabel / Mark: Because our studio is an extension of what we love to do it’s not really work. It’s been wonderful transferring our feelings to our students and the community and surrounding areas. We’ve met so many great people that we didn’t know were here. It’s a very rewarding feeling and we feel much more engaged. We are having fun and that’s a wonderful thing.
Larry: What have you found to be the best marketing avenues for the Richmond Dance Studio?
Ysabel / Mark: We have found that we can market the business through the use of our web site, social media, having a presence in local activities and word of mouth referrals. Digital marketing and analyzing the data is critical in today’s world. All the tools are there no matter how big or small you are. Understanding how to use the data is a very important key. We are using this data to establish our brand and understanding our demographics.
Larry: How important is having a Web presence, email and social media marketing to Richmond Dance Studio?
Ysabel / Mark: Due to mobile devices we are able to communicate in real time with the use of computers, smart phones and tablets. We are aware anytime we receive a communication and can respond very quickly.
Larry: Why did you join the Western Slopes Business Association (WSBA)?
Ysabel / Mark: We joined Western Slopes so that we could share our thoughts with many of it’s great members and learn from them to improve what we do. The learning curve never ends.
WSBA Monthly Member Perks
Each month this year, The Western Slopes Business Association will offer members a monthly perk. We’ve created a new page on our website to keep you posted about these offers!
In JANUARY 2013 – WSBA Membership Perk at Sleep Hollow!
On January 28, Sleepy Hollow Ski Area in Huntington is offering WSBA current members a 2 for 1 day of skiing. They are open until 9 pm on Mondays, as they have night skiing. Just identify yourself at the desk and they will have a list of our members and have you sign in. If you already have a ski pass at Sleepy Hollow, you can bring a guest for free January 28! Talk with Molly or Eli and they will make sure you are all set.
Thanks Sleepy Hollow for this membership perk!
Do you have a WSBA Member to Member offer you would like featured? Email Sherry Daniels.
WSBA Wedding Market Group Meets Monday
Are you a wedding venue?
Do you sell wedding goods, services?
Want to develop a wedding market?
Want to increase wedding sales?
Want to network with wedding market businesses & organizations?
The first meeting of the WSBA Wedding Market SIG will be Monday, January 21, 2013, 1:00 PM in the West Monitor Barn first floor conference room. Everyone is welcome.
Bolton, Huntington and Richmond are already destination wedding venues for many couples every year. WSBA believes there are huge opportunities to attract even more couples here to begin their married life journeys. Romantic, idyllic and magical wedding venues such as the West Monitor Barn, the Old Round Church, Sleepy Hollow Inn, Ski & Bike Center and Windekind Farm are just the beginning of the affect weddings have on our area. Weddings bring business to our photographers, flower shop, caterers, cake bakers, favor sources, restaurants, innkeepers and hair stylists. While a bride and groom and their wedding guests are here they might even need products and services from many of our other businesses.
Email Larry Bohen for more information and/or to get on the WSBA Wedding Market email list.
WSBA Members Show Their Pride Last month we announced the availablity of these beautiful WSBA Member icons for installation on member’s websites. The icons not only show their support for the Association but provide very important back links (from their sites to the Western Slopes site). Googles loves to see back links to sites especially from high quality sites and considers the back links as one measure of the linked to site’s importance. The more important Google considers the Western Slopes site the higher it will rank in searches = more visitors = increased business to our area. The Board of WSBA greatly appreciates the extra support the following members are showing:
Washburn’s Servicenter (click on the cool Porsche to go to the main site. WSBA Member icon is near the upper right.)
Town of Richmond (WSBA Member icon will replace the RABA icon bottom right soon.)
The Western Slopes logo is a beautiful symbol of your faith and support in the Association. Why not show your pride by placing one of these images on your website? We’ve created three sizes each with its own HTML code, one of which is sure to fit in with your website’s design. Questions about installing one of these images? Email Larry Bohen.
Text back links are also very important to Google for the same reasons mentioned above. These members have text back links to the Western Slopes site:
WSBA Monthly Member to Member PerksEach month this year, The Western Slopes Business Association will offer members a monthly perk. We’ve created a new page on our website to keep you posted about these offers!