For most people, it’s a big deal to open a new business, but Megan Stearns of Hinesburg decided to double that. This year, she started not one, but two new ventures. While Stearns and June Buechner Carney were in the process of opening a dance studio called Lines, Stearns decided to launch a marketing and communications firm called C’est la VT.
“When I knew the ballet studio was going to happen, I realized I would need another source of income to cover the first year or two,” Stearns said of the decision to take two separate leaps of faith.
C’est la VT, which opened in January, offers strategies for communications and marketing, mostly for individuals and non-profits.
“A communications person has to become a low-level expert in the client’s field,” Stearns said, “so this forces me to learn new things and keep my brain sharp.”
The 38-year-old’s communication skills were honed in the five years she served as creative director of the non-profit Let’s Grow Kids.
Stearns grew up dancing but when she graduated from high school, she had to choose between auditioning for a dance company or going to college.
“I wanted to see what else was out there,” she said “so I chose college and stopped dancing for 10 years. Then I moved to Vermont in 2010 and discovered what winters were like. I decided I needed a way to stay active and I thought I’d try dance again.” Stearns found a drop-in adult class, which revived her love of dance so much that she performed the lead role in the Farm to Ballet program the first year the program was in existence. She began to sample different classes and determined that there were no studios in Vermont designed primarily for adult dancers.
Stearns had been thinking about starting her own business for a while and had spent two years considering an hourly dog care business on Church Street before scrapping the idea. As she re-entered the world of dance, she met Carney, who owned a dance store in Williston and was looking for a new, larger location.
“I decided then and there that we would be partners,” Stearns said “and before we even had firm plans, I gave notice.”
Lines opened on Farrell Street in South Burlington in June. Stearns’ brother, a principal with the American Ballet Theatre, has helped them bring dance stars for their master classes. Stearns taught some classes herself until she became pregnant with her first child. Carney doubled the size of her store, which shares the space.
Lines offers drop-in classes for adults seven days a week with different dance disciplines and levels of expertise. While most students danced as teenagers but stopped for a period of time, some are total beginners and others are already addicted to dance and looking for new forms of exercise and expression. Although the studio is geared towards adults, they also have “very focused teens” who come because they have their sights set on a professional career.
“The hardest part about operating two businesses is having a split brain,” Stearns said. “I’m focusing on clients as well as the studio.”
While sometimes she thinks it would be nice to have a singular focus, she is pleased to be back in the world of dance while also retaining her connection to the non-profit world.
“I really love being connected to other communities and causes,” she said.