Okay, I was going to type this out before class, but then I ran out of time, so I deleted everything I wrote and started over. I’m not entirely sure how I’m still up right now, but I’m somehow awake and functioning. I’ll probably be going to bed soon because, well, life and responsibilities and all that.
So, first, class tonight. There were only two of us for the level 3 class, which meant we worked on very specific things. I have to say, leading with improv and other people results in me getting a bad case of the shakes. I’m really nervous for how this weekend is going to go because of it. I’m super worried that I’ll get out there and I’ll be shaking too much to do anything at all, but we’ll see. Overall I’m getting more comfortable though, so that’s something. Still, I wasn’t too disappointed when I didn’t have to do too much in class tonight. And we were working on some really pretty stuff. We did some cascades, which looked awesome. I can’t wait to see them in practice.
I have to say I’m loving these classes. I’ve learned so much and remembered so much more. I’m pretty happy with my ability to hop in and get some dance time in at something higher than a level 1, which I really need to be doing anyway. I’ve been doing so well with everything that I’m starting to gain my confidence back. It’s been so long since I’ve danced with anyone that it’s kind of nice to be bringing my practice together with other people again. I’ve got a long way to go before I’m truly comfortable working with this group, but I’m getting there.
Also, I kinda, sorta spent money tonight, which is a big deal because Oz’s check got shorted this week. They found 19 hours he wasn’t paid for, which is a big deal. I have a sneaking suspicion there’s more, but at least that much is taken care of. I need to convince Oz to record his hours on his own, that way he doesn’t get shorted hours again. At least one of the past two checks should have had overtime on it, but he’s not getting the hours he’s supposed to have, so something is going on there. Still, we’re supposed to get money on Friday to make up for the money he didn’t have on his check. I’m really hoping he does, but just in case I’m going to pull the money I need for the weekend out of my account, that way I have it on hand in case the checks decide to clear. It’s a gamble to have my account go into the negative, but it’s a gamble I’m willing to make.
But spending money, I spent a lot of money tonight, but tonight at class I ended up buying not one, but two skirts that were for sale in the class allotment. If Oz gets his pay the way he’s supposed to I may end up getting two more. There’s a fall colored one, or close enough, and a green and black one that I really liked, but I couldn’t afford to buy them all. However, I did get a pink and purple one and a purple and cream one. That’s all money that goes towards Oz paying back my business. The woman who runs the class said I was going to make a couple ladies from class really happy, since it’s students selling their own stuff. Honestly, I wish I could have bought more. I used to have a huge collection of skirts and things, and I’d like to build up that collection again. Right now I have 4 skirts. I’d like to get to the point where I have maybe 10 to choose between. I’d like to get to the point where I can have 10 skirts, 10 tops, and probably 5 coin bras, and as many scarves and belts to fill my entire box. I’d love a chest full of jewelry too, but we’ll see what happens there.
That’s the skirt, or at least one of them. It’s not great light to show it off and you can’t see the sparkle to it. I’ve been eyeing it since the first day I was shown the space everyone dances out of, but I didn’t know they were for sale. I found that out last week. This week I actually decided to go through and buy something. Well, it started with the new skirt that was added, then I realized the other one was just as nice to me, so I decided to buy both, after checking my bank account to see if I’d have the money in case the last two checks came through. Then I decided I was just going to take the cash out for this weekend tonight, so we’ll see how that goes. I haven’t taken the cash out, so if the money comes out I may have to ask J if there’s any way she can pay me for sitting. She owes me for four weeks now, and that would be more than enough money to cover going into the city for the ATS World Flash Mob event. Hell, with how much she owes me I could get another skirt while I’m at it! Okay, so I won’t do that. I want to give everyone else their fair shot before I buy everyone out of everything, but I’m still going to keep my eye out for things I can add to my list.
As for other expenditure of money, I finally got my business cards. I picked something on VistaPrint with three photos across the front and the information below it. It had space for a physical address, but since I don’t have a studio space yet I decided to do something different. Instead I added my social media information, at least the two I use most. I added my Instagram and my Facebook page information. I figure if I get more followers for both, excellent, and I’ll keep ordering more of the same. If it doesn’t seem to change how many people follow me on social media I’ll just delete it from the next rendition of the cards and call it a day. I think I’m going to keep with this style of cards, though, because I really like them. I’d love to get to the point where I can have some modern pictures across the front. If I could have a photo from class on one side, a photo from a performance on the other, and a studio portrait in the center that would be perfect. That would encompass all of my business.
Not only did I get business cards, but I also splurged and got a business card holder for the studio and a business card holder for my purse. I figure I’ll throw some in my bag for classes too and leave them out where I leave out the scarves for sale. That’s going to make it easier for people to get my information and possibly get hooked up with my social media. It’s worth giving it a try. Besides, it might make more people use my website, which would also help it get attention, which it needs. But I figure if I’ve got something nice to cart my cards around in then I’m more likely to give them out. I used to give them out all the time when I was dancing before, so hopefully this is the same. My goal is to be through all 500 cards within one calendar year, which may be easier to do if we go to the parades this year. I may need to order more after I do those events, which would actually be a good thing for me.
And as far as the hip scarves go, not only did they come in, but they sold decently well. If we’d just ordered the scarves I wanted we would have been pretty much paid off by now. I think I may have needed to sell a couple more to actually break even, but I would have gotten most of my investment back. Unfortunately, J wanted to order the velvet scarves, which meant our investment was that much higher. I’d seen them and thought they were okay, but I really didn’t want to order them. I was okay with just the basic chiffon ones, but she liked them and wanted them, and since it was her money to invest, that’s what she got. But I sold 7 scarves, which is a pretty decent number. I’m going to keep bringing them every week in hopes that we’re able to move a few more. After the hip scarves sell to the point of making profit we’re supposed to be splitting the proceeds 50-50, which I don’t think is the most fair in the world, but whatever. I think it makes more sense that I get a bigger cut because I’m the one selling them in class, but she’s the one that made the investment, so I guess that’s fine. I just think in the future I’m going to consider making a line between her stock and my stock, that way I can carry what I want for class and I don’t have to worry about her investment, what she wants me to sell things as, or any of that, because we definitely don’t agree on pricing.
So, J has very set ideas on what she wants me to price these things as. She said her standard is to take the price, round up to the nearest dollar, and then multiply by 3. By her estimation the chiffon scarves would be $18 and the velvet would be $30. While I’m sure they’d move at those prices, those markups are well above what standard retailers suggest doing. I did some research and most people suggest a 50% markup from what you get it for wholesale. That would mean the chiffon scarves are $12 and the velvet ones are $20. I got my way and listed the velvet ones as $20 and let her have a little bit more say and listed the chiffon ones for $15. At those prices the chiffon scarves were moving, but the velvet ones weren’t as much of a hit because they don’t have as much jingle as the chiffon ones. I don’t think I could have made them move at $30. Not only that, but the change would be too complicated. And realistically, if they can get the same scarf or better online for half of what I’m selling them for, why not just buy online? Yes, even at double the price they can get them cheaper online, though maybe not once you add shipping, but at least it’s close enough that I’m not sure if it’s going to make a difference, but at 3 times the price? That’s just too much, at least for my business. Sure, people may pay, but I may have sold out of them if I was charging less for them. People may have just bought them to have a different one, but with how much cheaper you can get them online, why would you do that?
I’m honestly trying to decide if I want to set myself up to be a vendor at events as well as a dancer. If there are enough events in the area where vendors can sell it might be worth it. If I could get enough business with selling online it could be worth it too, but I’d prefer just sell on location, get my stuff out there so people can physically see it. If I had the money to make it happen I’d consider one of the little carts at the mall, but I don’t know that I’d sell enough to make the rent. Not only that, but who would work it when I’ve got to be at class or at home with the kids? I’ve also considered what I would have to do to work at the local farmer’s markets, but I don’t know if I could because it’s not handmade goods. I’ve considered looking for other vendor events, just to get my name and face out there with some belly dance goodies, just to get people interested. It would be a great way to get people to buy a couple things, then maybe show up for class, but it’s a lot of work and a lot of financial investment. These are all high-end, expensive goods and I’m not sure how many people would want in on it. I think maybe the best I could do is a booth at the renn faires, which is totally reasonable, but still… It’s a lot to think about.
Also, I’ve got to seriously start looking into what it will cost to rent studio space. I’ve actually found a space that might just be ideal for what I’m looking for, but I don’t know that I’d ever be able to afford to rent it out. I suppose if it stays up for rent for a while I may be able to swing it. It all depends on what they want for the space. It’s the old Salvation Army building, which is right down the street from my house. It’s right downtown, walking distance from my house and the train. It’s a prime location, right near the city hall too. It’s also right next to the high-end luxury apartments that are going up. I just don’t think I have enough students to float the space right now, and I don’t know that I’d be able to get enough other dance instructors in to rent out the space if necessary. Granted, they’re willing to divide up the building, so I wouldn’t have to rent out the whole thing, but it’s still going to be a lot. I’d need to make sure I was able to get more students if I wanted to do that. However, my dream would be to rent out the entire building and use the whole space for dance classes and events of all kinds, really turn it into a world dance academy. I’m sure if I put in the right flooring the Irish dance school would gladly move there, especially if I allowed them to have their choice of rooms and open availability for whatever classes they wanted to teach. It would be awesome if I could attract a flamenco teacher. There’s a Bollywood teacher in the area too. Irish dance, flamenco, Bollywood, and belly dance would be a really nice start to a world dance studio. I’d have to research some other cultural dances and see if we could get some other cultural dances going there, but it would be so much fun!
Oh, well… I can dream, right? Maybe the building will still be available to rent out when I’m looking to build my studio. Or maybe I can convince the Performing Arts Center that they want to rent out that space as their space, which would be great for them, though maybe a bit small for their purposes. But still, some day I’ll have my dream studio. I’ll own the building and I’ll be able to do with it whatever I want. At least that’s the dream.
Anyhow, it’s super late and I have to get up early for my antibiotics. Then I have the crazy running day tomorrow. In all that crazy running around I have to get to the bank so I can pull out money for this weekend. I figure $40 should be enough to get me the train round trip and still leave enough left over for food. If Oz gets the pay he’s owed for that last $19 hours I’m going to say screw it and have him take the train in with the kids and me, that way the kids can see their mom perform belly dance. Bear has never actually seen me dance, so it would be so much fun. I think I’m going to ask J if there’s any way she can pay me before this weekend too, because that would be really helpful too. She already owes me about $120, so it’s not exactly a small amount. I could easily pay for my trip in this weekend and then some. If I’m taking the train by myself I could still afford my tribal basics that we’re going to order sometime next week. I’ve got to contact everyone about that too.
Oh, and on a final note, I called the Performing Arts Center about teaching belly dance there. It was later in the afternoon, so I didn’t expect a call back. I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t get one. I’m going to have to tell them I’m busy on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday in the evenings, so unless they wanted to do an afternoon class on any day but Tuesday or Thursday, I’m busy those days. But it’s potentially regular pay, possibly to the tune of $40 a class, which isn’t awful. It would also put me that much closer to that goal of teaching 15 classes a week to have the equivalent of a full time, minimum wage job. That would put me at 4 classes for the week, with the potential to come up to 5 if the continuing ed program picks up much more. That would put me 1/3 of the way to my goal! If I get my BellyFit certification then I can add at least one more class every week, I’m sure, even if it’s a morning class. I might be able to do morning classes at a couple of places. I mean, it’ll suck to have to figure out childcare and transportation, but I’m sure I could make it work. The potential is there and I’m taking the steps to make it happen. I mean, if I could get to the point where I teach 5 morning BellyFit classes a week and 5 regular classes every week, I would be so incredibly close to my goal I could taste it at that point! Again, a girl can dream!
But as I said, I need to hop off to bed. I’ve got a long day ahead of me tomorrow and I may be living off of sucking down caffeine. That may be the only way I’m going to get through it with how late it is. With how exhausted I am I’m surprised I’m still up at all. I could have easily called it after the first class and been happy with it, but I stuck it out through the second one anyway. I think it’s just excitement at everything that’s gotten done today, and all the money I spent, that’s really getting me going. Also, excitement about the ATS World Flash Mob. Somehow I think I’m not sleeping Friday night…