We were lucky to catch up with Dani Montoya recently and have shared our conversation below.
Dani, appreciate you joining us today. Do you take vacations? How do you keep things going – any advice for entrepreneurs who feel like they can’t step away from their business for a short vacation?
Yes! I honestly believe they are a great part of maintaining a balance, clarity, and inspiration in my day to day life. It’s not so much because I need to leave or explore, although these experiences do allow my creativity to think in ways outside of my day to day motions, it’s the ability to disconnect and recharge.
Vacations allow me to unplug from social media, unplug from clients, emails, and just allow my brain to take a bit of a rest and reset. Yes, I am known to put my phone in a drawer on the weekends, but let’s be real, as a small business owner I can’t really just turn it off, my eyes still take a glance! Plus retail moves on the weekends and at hours that I am not “working”,
As a creative running a business, these things do take a rather heavy toll on me, particularly during our peak seasons when I am constantly being asked for personal interaction while still having to meet deadlines. I work best when I am left to my own devices without interruption, however, I can’t expect that to be my everyday reality when I run a service and client driven business and I think most creatives and small business owners can relate to this feeling. I don’t think this feeling is unique to me… I think the power in disconnecting in a hyper connected world is a necessity for everyone to be their most effective and efficient self. I just find the disconnection to be a little bit easier and enjoyable when I am on a trip with family and friends, there is no Wi-Fi, and your in the middle of a hike or about to take a dip by a stunning waterfall.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
I run a successful local activewear and dancewear brand with a focus on designs for competitive dancers. So my team and I create looks for dancers who are getting ready for an audition, dancers who compete along with their dance team or dance studio on stage, dancers who attend conventions, and studio owners who are looking to uniform their students. We have our ready to wear line which focuses on looks that are ready for class, audition, and the stage and we offer custom made design services for studio owners for group dances.
Our ready to wear line ranges in looks that are geared on a more active lifestyle, biker shorts, sports bras, and others are geared towards moments on stage. Looks inspired by lyrical, jazz, and contemporary dance that can work for your dancer as they show off their skill on stage. Our custom made work is targeted for studio owners and dance directors who need assistance with a specific vision for stage. Studio owners and dance team directors send me their music and a clip of their dance and I get to work designing something that will help complete their vision.
With my personal background as a competitive dancer and teacher for many years, I really aim to create designs that will allow the dancer to feel comfortable and really embody the story. This way their wardrobe isn’t what’s on their mind, it’s the ability to evoke emotion while preforming for 2 minutes something that they have been working on for months.
I have been very fortunate that many of my customers understand my vision and they can relate to my story and love my designs. So many grateful parents who have written to me saying the outfit they just ordered is now their dancer’s lucky outfit after a weekend away at convention and auditions. That they are so happy they found us! Those are my favorite emails! I too had lucky socks, leotard, and tops and shorts. There really is a power behind feeling good in what you’re wearing. I aim to make designs that will help dancers feel empowered and strut their stuff!
Have you ever had to pivot?
In my head I just hear Ross from friends yelling “PIVOT!”. The greatest pivot I have had in my young career was the moment we heard we were going into lockdown. My parents, who are my business partners, and I just looked at each other and said how can we become essential? What can we do to make sure our employees are not out of a job and we can keep the lights on. What does the world need right now…. masks. We started figuring out how to make mask for essential workers and donating them to hospitals and selling them to our local business community and neighbors. We closed for one day while we worked from home researching the best fabrics, the best mold, the wire that you sew inside to help the nose fold in, and understand that in this moment we had to adapt. Once we were able to start locating down the necessary materials and proper safety precautions, we talked to our staff and they were ready to take on the times with us. We worked with masks and gloves on, had a limited staff inside, other seamstresses worked from home, and we just pivoted to keep going. All we knew is that we had to adapt to keep going. We were fortunate to have access to materials, machines, and personnel to make that happen during very uncertain times.
We’d love to hear the story of how you built up your social media audience?
Authenticity and word of mouth are powerful tools, especially online. We aim to be genuine in our interactions, post, and engagement with our followers and with our community. Simply posting a heart in a comment won’t read the same connection or be as powerful as if you actually took the time to read the caption or watch the video and comment on something you genuinely enjoyed from it. People appreciate this.
We also work on building a community with our followers and customers, we want to know how competition went, we want to see them in their Opra outfits after a long day of classes, we want to be apart of their story. I know I struggle with constantly being active on social media, especially during our peak seasons, but our customers love being apart of our #OpraAthletes community. If we are not active, how can they connect?
We have been fortunate to build strong relationships with very loyal customers who have become our ambassadors as well. We find that they genuinely love the brand and they will authentically represent us because they love wearing our styles, love our message, and we have a bond. Because of this, they are happy to recommend us within their local community and help us grow. We in turn love having them on our team, helping think of ways that we can continue to grow together and be apart of their dance journey. So many of our ambassador are also our models, so we will plan a yearly trip to get to know each other, spend time together, have fun at photoshoots, and basically become a resource for them to have fun, enjoy, and have new experiences together.
They inspire me to make better clothing, to make looks for them, that they will love, because ultimately they are my target audience. I may have danced, but they are the dancers today… their voice and that of their parents matter to me. These dancers and parents make me a better designer and business owner and the bonds we have built are epic. I am so grateful to have them on this ride with me.
- Website: https://www.opradancewear.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/opradancewear
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/opradancewear
- Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/opradancewear
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/OpraDancewearMiami
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/opra-dancewear-miami-2?osq=opra+dancewear
Yorch Sans Photography JP Studios Photography Rebecca Massimino