Here at DivaDance, we celebrate and honor our hardworking franchise owners and their outstanding achievements on the regular! Our recent Community Time podcast features DivaDance San Antonio Franchise Owner and former “Owner of the Year” Danielle Ledezma, who recently sat down with DivaDance founder and CEO Jami Stigliano to chat about all things business ownership and beyond.
Raised in San Antonio, Texas, Danielle graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 with a BS in Public Relations and a concentration in Spanish. Author of fiction novel Izzy in El Mareo, Danielle is a celebrated speaker with an emphasis on personal growth, motivation, and mindfulness, alongside a hint of relatable humor. Danielle lives in San Antonio with her husband and 2-year-old daughter. Read on for more about Danielle — who has known Jami for 20+ years! — her DivaDance journey, and what it takes to be a successful franchisee in this special Mythbuster-inspired podcast.
Jami: So, let’s start with our community question. If you had one mantra or slogan that you could put on a billboard in Times Square, what would it be?
Danielle: Ooh, I think I’d have to condense it to fit on a billboard. So, I think it would just say, ‘Love yourself,’ but the full thing would be, ‘You have to love yourself before you can really truly love somebody else.’
Jami: That’s so Justin Bieber of you. I love it. So, let’s jump right in — I want to start with mindset first. Tell us, what makes a good franchise owner, Dani? What kind of mindset do they need?
Danielle: I think for anything that you’re going to do in life, any big decision, you have to be in a growth mindset. You have to be willing to take the tough stuff with the good stuff. You’ve got to stay open-minded but also grounded. I’m sure you’ve all seen those charts where people say, ‘Oh, success is a straight line,’ when in fact, it is a crazy, squiggly mess. So, if you’re in a growth mindset, and you’re grounded in your confidence, then you’re going to succeed at anything you want to do, including owning a DivaDance franchise.
Jami: Oh yeah, all of a sudden people will think you’re an overnight success because they didn’t see all the real journey. So, and you’re such a good example of that. Prior to franchising with DivaDance, you had a very successful career. Let’s talk about the career you had, and then what made you decide to make this leap?
Danielle: I was in corporate sales in the hospitality industry for 15 years. And I got to a place where it was like, you’re either gonna level up and become one of those high-level leaders — and I kind of looked around and was like, ‘Nope, I do not want that life.’ ‘Cause that life you’re tied to the guy at the top. They can call you at home, you got to drop everything, leave the dinner table. I just didn’t want to do that. But I also didn’t want to stay where I was because I really wanted to grow. I felt like I had learned a lot and wanted to do something with it, but not that, right? Not that leadership in that industry. And that’s when we reconnected and you told me about DivaDance. What really caught my attention was when you were talking about the values because I was living in this place where I had to be in an office every day, and if I was like five minutes late, somebody was asking me about it. It was a little bit of a toxic environment. this thing. So, what really attracted me to DivaDance is that there’s support, there’s rails to run on. I felt like it was less risky than trying to come up with my own idea and start something on my own. I think really the culture that you had created, you made it so easy. It was just an easy decision because there was gonna be so much support. So, I was like, ‘Okay, I can do this.’
Jami: Yes! Okay, let’s talk about a few of those things we put in front of ourselves, especially as women, that give us every reason to say ‘No’ to something. One of the first things we hear from people is they think they need dance training. What was your experience with that?
Danielle: I was on the high school dance team, but I’d never choreographed anything. It was just my social thing. But what’s amazing about this is the coaching and the development program that you guys have for me and the instructors that I hired to do the teaching. I feel super confident. Like, if I have to jump in and teach a class or if I want to put myself on the schedule, I can, and I can have fun with it thanks to all the resources you have available. I definitely did not need to have any professional training or studio training.
Jami: On that note, I want to talk about the idea, the myth, that people think franchising equals instant success. Tell us about the hard work you put into making your business a success.
Danielle: I mean, just because the tools and resources are there doesn’t mean they just automatically start happening for you. You have to use them, right? You have to create a culture and a team, and that’s where you’ve got to spend a lot of your time. In the beginning, I’m at the studio for every class because I want to see how it’s going, but more importantly, I want to be there to support the people that I’ve hired. Eventually, you want to be able to pull back a little bit and get your team in place. I have a lot of Zoom meetings where we’re planning, we’re strategizing. So again, just because there’s a system, you still have to put the work in to make the system work.
Jami: And what about the myth that people think they can’t afford it, that they don’t have the funding and can’t do it?
Danielle: There are so many options! You have to give yourself a chance, right? Like where there’s a will, there’s a way. There are so many different things out there that might be a really great fit based on your cash flow, your credit, and all the different things you might qualify for. So even if you don’t have the cash sitting in the bank, that doesn’t mean you can’t afford it. Let’s look at the options, let’s do some research, let’s have a conversation and just see — you might not even realize what’s available for you to access.
Catch more of Jami’s interview with Danielle Ledezma on the Community Time podcast and learn more about funding options and how she found a studio space, how she grew to own multiple locations, and how she manages work-life balance.