Room to dance: Dance studio spins into the spotlight
Phillip Fusaro started dancing at nine years old. For Phillip, dancing is a life-long passion and a way to bring entire communities together. He and his wife Erin founded Friendly City Dance Room in Harrisonburg and based the business on their strong belief that individuals can achieve a better quality of life through dancing. With Phillip as choreographer and Erin as artistic director, the couple seeks to make dance accessible to folks of all ages, incomes, and experience levels.
Creating a successful dance studio was not without its challenges. The Fusaros found themselves unsure of how to turn their love of dance into a profitable business. “We were put in touch with the Shenandoah Valley (SV) SBDC by a fellow business owner,” Phillip says. “Jalal and Allison helped us so much.” Allison Dugan is the Assistant Director and Business Advisor at the SV SBDC; Jalal Maqableh is a PhD candidate at James Madison University and an SBDC Business Advisor specializing in inclusive entrepreneurship.
After attending a Smart Start workshop hosted by the SV SBDC, the Fusaros were eager to learn the next steps for business ownership. Over the subsequent months, the SBDC team assisted the Fusaros with defining goals, target marketing, social media and website development, sales, accounting, legal and HR issues, funding, and cash-flow management.
“I’m basically a visionary, so Allison’s help with all the details was essential to our start-up success,” Phillip says. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without the SBDC.”
Allison guided Erin and Phillip through the process of applying for a Harrisonburg Biz Loan of $19,500. “Allison’s assistance throughout that process was invaluable. The capital was vital to Friendly City’s start,” Phillip explains. The loan was used to convert office space into a welcoming studio with special floating vinyl floors, a quality sound system, and furniture and décor to make it a truly unique space.
Since opening in March 2019, Friendly City Dance Room continues to live up to its mission of providing a deeply inclusive space for people of all abilities to experience dance and improve their lives. “I love seeing the connections in the studio between people who wouldn’t otherwise meet,” Phillip concludes.