We had the good fortune of connecting with Leah Matthews and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leah, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk is something that I embrace head-on. I think anyone who is an entrepreneur has to have a certain level of comfort with risk. All you have to do is look at the statistics of how many businesses fail to know that business ownership isn’t easy, nor is it guaranteed. For me, it all comes down to calculated risks and what I can draw from the information at hand, but it also comes down to instinct. Listening to my gut usually doesn’t steer me wrong. In both my career and personal life there have been times when something didn’t necessarily make sense, but I felt it was the right move. It was the right move.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I started an on-site dance business to marry my two passions: dance and business. Dance, and art in general, don’t usually go hand in hand with business. For me, I needed both aspects to have a fulfilling career. Since starting Studio Go in 2015 we’ve grown to over 1,000 students throughout the Southeast. We serve families in Atlanta, Athens, Charleston, and Chattanooga, with Charlotte on the horizon in 2021. The thing that really sets us apart is our people and our curriculum. Our sister company, which I co-own with Lauren Nolan (who is amazing), creates curriculum and provides consulting to dance studios across the globe. Our curriculum has been used in Africa, Australia, Canada, The United Kingdom, and across the U.S. This curriculum also features character development, which is something I’m very passionate about. Through dance we touch on compassion, kindness, diversity, gratitude, and more. We want to teach solid technique, but also empower young people to be the best versions of themselves. We recently launched Studio To Go On Demand (www.studiotogoondemand.com), which is an online streaming service for kid’s dance and yoga. Think Netflix for ballet, tap, hip hop, yoga, and creative movement. We’re really excited about this. The COVID outbreak sparked a pivot in our business. We realized we have all of this content and there are kids at home who might not have access to their regular activities and who need exercise. There are also parents at home who need to be able to work, but have kids to entertain. This felt like the perfect solution to be able to use our talents and resources to help people.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Atlanta has so much to offer. We live in Virginia-Highland, so I’m partial to it and the surrounding neighborhoods. I can see Ponce City Market from my bedroom window, so it’s the place I visit the most and a place I recommend. That being said, it has become a bit of a tourist trap on the weekend. Regardless, I think it’s still worth a visit for people visiting the city. Here are some of my favorite: Newish Restaurant: Lyla Lila (my daughter’s name is Lila, so bonus points) or Rina OTP: Buford Hwy Best Bar: Clermont (You’ve got Tiny Lou’s, The Rooftop, and the Lounge-something for everyone!) Best People Watching: St. Regis in Buckhead Best Dive: Northside Tavern Best Late Night: Clermont Lounge Best Place to Dance and Laugh Hard: Johnny’s Hideaway Best Daytime activity: Stroll the Beltline and picnic in Piedmont Park Best Place to Catch a Show: Tabernacle, The Variety, or The Fox (depending on what you’re going for) Best Brunch: Whisky Bird Best Views: Rooftop at PCM Best Day Drinking: New Realm or Ladybird Grove and Mess Hall There are so many others, but these are some good highlights to get started!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’ve had a lot of inspirational people in my life who have helped me get where I am today. From mentors, former co-workers, authors of inspiring books, etc. However, in all of my soul searching of who I can dedicate my success to, it’s my tribe. My amazing husband who is my biggest cheerleader and who will jump in and handle bath time so I can work. My beautiful children who have been in a baby carrier at photo shoots and events and have traveled to conferences. My mom for telling me I can be whatever I want when I grow up, and to the amazing women whom I work with everyday that help make my dreams a reality. Yes, I’ve gotten invaluable inspiration and advice from countless sources, but I wouldn’t be here without my people.