Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Gross.
Lauren, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
My husband, Kyle, and I both grew up dancing competitively at studios in the Twin Cities. We grew up at different studios, but got connected when we both attended the U of M Twin Cities. Kyle went to Carlson School of Management and earned a degree Supply Chain/Operations & Marketing. I earned a degree in Dance, Holistic Health, and Cultural Studies. Kyle and I taught at various dance studios for 9+ years, but always had intentions of someday owning our own studio. We have both always enjoyed doing tasks for our jobs that go beyond just teaching and choreographing.
Our studio, The Dance Unit, opened in October 2020, and our story of how we came to be is one of our proudest achievements. In 2020 I was instructing at a studio that decided to close its doors in September 2020. With the permission of the former owner of that studio, I pitched the idea that I would open a studio so that these dancers could have a new dance home where they could stay together. We didn’t have a facility or even a name when first pitching the business, but we had enough dancers on board to move forward with opening a studio. We picked our name, The Dance Unit, and then started searching for a space to start our first season. We got the keys to our Hugo location on October 1, and held our first classes on October 10, 2020. Building a studio in 10 days was not easy, but we had a great handful of help from our clients to make it possible. We completed our first season, and expanded our space in the Fall of 2021. We have loved getting to know the Hugo area and all it has to offer.
On top of studio ownership, Kyle and I also own a second business, LTG Costumes. We sew custom costumes for our own studio, as well as other studios in the Twin Cities. We are in our third year of this business, and we love all of the clients we get to meet in the dance community through costuming. We have a passion for creating high quality, well-fitted, appropriate, and unique costumes.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There are always ups and downs in business ownership. Opening a business in 2020, in the circumstances we did, is by far one of the most challenging things we have ever done. Kyle and I have always said that we will know when it is our time to take this step in our careers, but we definitely did not expect it would be done so unexpectedly and during a pandemic. However, our experience in our first 18 months of ownership has taught us skills that we will use for the rest of our time in this business.
We are completely self taught seamstresses for LTG Costumes. So we quite literally just learn from mistakes. Costuming is a lot of trial and error, and it takes a lot of patience. One of the biggest struggles is having the stamina to continue working after making a mistake. It is a lot of hard work and late nights in our costume room, but we love it!
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Something that sets The Dance Unit apart from other studios is our ability to cater to individuals’ goals, needs, and interests. We believe that everyone’s dance journey is unique to each dancer, and we love to celebrate that with our dancers. We pride ourselves on the level of inclusivity our studio has. A healthy studio culture is just as important as high quality training, which is something that takes constant self evaluation when you are the leader.
Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
Our location in Hugo did fall into our laps at the best time. It is a city experiencing huge growth with no previously established dance studio in town.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: thedanceunit.com
- Instagram: the.danceunit
- Facebook: facebook.com/TheDanceUnitMN
Dana Mooney Photography