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June 17. 2013 1:23AM

Expanding their reach into the world of dance


DanceStudioOwner.com, created by Suzanne Blake Gerety and her mother, Kathy Blake of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, has been acquired by Revolution Dancewear (COURTESY)

Kathy Blake knows firsthand how difficult it can be to run a dance studio, which motivated her to design a website that could help make the business side of dancing a little more graceful.

The average person who opens a dance studio typically has a passion for the art, not a background in marketing or business management, said Blake, founder of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst.

"I like to think of all of the dance studio owners as my colleagues, not my competitors," said Blake, who five years ago formed DanceStudioOwner.com with her daughter, Suzanne Blake Gerety.

The website, described as an online resource center for dance studio owners, has grown exponentially since its inception, and now has more than 1,000 paid members. The site offers numerous articles, stories and alerts on various ways to improve dance studio business, marketing, costumes, artistic advice, relocating assistance, management tips and more."Suddenly, I have become the Dear Abby of dance," Blake said of her website, which was recently acquired by Chicago-suburb based Revolution Dancewear, a designer, manufacturer and distributor of dancewear, costumes and footwear to dance studios.

Dance studios have become a competitive business, according to Gerety, who said she wanted to find a way to connect all of the creative people associated with so many great dance studios.

DanceStudioOwner.com was the online solution, said Gerety, adding it is a great way to combine the creativity of dance with business savvy experts.

Revolution Dancewear agreed, which is why the company opted to acquire the website, which will still retain its name, brand community and autonomous approach to content development.

"When we met with Suzanne and Kathy, there was an instant synergy. Both DanceStudioOwner.com and Revolution Dancewear are committed to nurturing the dance studio owner's passion for dance, and enabling them to succeed in business," said Robb Lippitt, CEO of Revolution Dancewear. "This acquisition bolsters our mission as we can now provide our customers with an outstanding online resource center for growing and succeeding in business."

At the same time, Lippitt said in a statement that the acquisition will give his company deep insights into the business challenges studio customers face every day, which will ultimately enable the company to serve them better.

With the acquisition, Revolution Dancewear's customers will have the ability to renew their membership, or become DanceStudioOwner.com members at a reduced rate, according a release. Typical memberships to Blake's resource website cost about $200 a year.

The site not only provides direct personal advice, but also a forum to chat with other dance studio owners about successes, failures and challenges, Blake said.

"We are a voice of hope in this area for business owners who really never intended to become business owners but have a passion for dance," she added.

The mother-daughter team are optimistic that Revolution Dancewear will provide their online company with the resources and infrastructure needed to advance and enhance its operations while also expanding its brand reach.

"We have hopes to reach more members globally, and we believe this acquisition will definitely help us widen our reach," Gerety said.

The site currently assists members in 40 different countries with how-to articles, downloadable business forms, checklists, business templates, teleseminars, marketing tips and studio start-up business resources.

Each year, Kathy Blake Dance Studios teach up to 1,000 students. Some of its alumni are now performing on Broadway and touring the world.

Just like her students, Blake said dance students worldwide need successful dance studio owners to help make a young dancer's childhood dream a reality.

khoughton@newstote.com