Holly Rohde opened Uplifting Movement Factory in 2019 with a very specific mission: providing quality education in an open and inclusive environment.
Holly’s background in education taught her that building relationships with students through friendly, kind and open communication was the key to success. She founded Uplifting Movement Factory on the idea that high standards and an emphasis on character development would ensure student growth. She specifically included “Uplifting” in the business name to stress that this accepting dance studio would be a safe space for all students to feel welcome, and not a space of elite status focused on star performers.
The pilot sessions for the business were held in classrooms at the local St. Anthony school. When an old gas station came up for sale, Holly knew it would be a good location and purchased in January 2020. She went to the Clark County Economic Development Corporation & Tourism Bureau for help with the renovation. This group introduced her to the Regional Business Fund who then led her to the Small Business Development Center at UW-Eau Claire.
Holly really appreciated the connections. She now sits on the board of directors for the Regional Business Fund and used the SBDC’s advice to get approved for a loan. “Luke Kempen at the SBDC really helped me think about HOW to calculate financial projections, and he was great at explaining the finance terminology,” Holly said.
The renovation of the studio was completed in March 2020, and classes were transitioned to the new space. But then the pandemic hit. Holly quickly switched to virtual classes and had to postpone a spring recital. Luckily, EIDL and PPP federal small business funding programs helped keep the business afloat, and she was soon able to reopen with renovations complete in two studio spaces.
The community is thrilled to have Holly and her studio as no other dance facilities are located within a 30-minute drive, and most studios are an hour or more away. Holly’s business has also been quite involved with the Clark County Fair and Corn Fest to build local ties.
The studio offers both recital and competitive training. The recital training teaches dancers a routine focused on skill development, and then a spring recital gives all students a chance to perform. The competitive training is a recently developed program, in its second season, in which students audition and commit to more classes to develop a solo or group routine performed at regional competitions.
Uplifting Movement Factory also offers theme-based summer camps which provide a relaxed, fun environment for dance as well as crafts, games and other social interaction. During the fall of 2021, recreational gymnastics classes for kids ages four to seven were also added to the studios offerings.
The studio is part of the National Dance Education organization and is approved for a Junior and Senior Chapter of the National Society for Dance Arts in Fall 2022. Through these chapters, high school students can earn cords to wear at graduation by completing dance education courses and community service projects.
Holly said the thing she likes best about her job is making a difference with her students. “I love connecting with them and seeing them reach an ‘a-ha moment’ when they overcome something that had previously been difficult,” she said. To further help students, she and her mom started a Judy Bug fund, in honor of her late grandmother. So far, Uplifting Movement Factory has awarded ten Judy Bug scholarships.
Holly’s advice to others hoping to become entrepreneurs is, “If you have a dream, follow it.” She said, “Anything can happen if you find the right support system and you are willing to learn!”
Accomplishments with UW-Eau Claire SBDC
- Financial projections
- Finance terminology