When I was eight years old, my mother signed me up for my first ballet class. I remember feeling excited to wear my new pink ballet slippers and tights, but terrified to walk into the room. I didn’t know what to expect- were the other girls going to be wearing the same thing as me? Would they already know what to do? Maybe my mom got the whole outfit wrong and everyone else would be wearing something totally different and I would stick out like a sore thumb? I felt paralyzed with fear in the car as we sat in front of the studio.
With some loving- and crafty- encouragement from my mom, I got out of the car and held her hand as we walked in together. There were about 12 girls in the class. The other girls seemed to know each other already- talking, laughing, goofing around in their leotards and tights, just like me (thank God that part was taken care of!). My mother introduced me to the teacher, Miss Rita, who I thought could have been most beautiful woman in the world. She had a gave me a big smile when she saw me and hugged me when my mom introduced me to her. As my mother said goodbye, Miss Rita walked me to the barre and showed me how to stand with my left hand just in front of me.
I felt the other girls looking at me as she walked away. No one said hello, and I wasn’t sure what to do except stand there with my hand on the barre. I felt myself shaking and knew I was going to cry, so I looked down at the floor. Someone had drawn a smiley face with red marker on the floor where I was standing, so I focused on that as a few tears fell onto the mouth.
Then Miss Rita started class. She clapped her hands together and in a confident, upbeat voice said, “everybody, we have a new classmate with us today. This is Alexis, let’s give her a warm ballet welcome.” And with that, everyone quieted down, stepped away from the barre, faced me and curtsied in my direction. Miss Rita smiled and said, “wonderful! Welcome Alexis! Now let’s start with our warm up. Can someone show Alexis how we position our feet for exercise number one?”
And from there I realized I was in perfect company, as Miss Rita stood right in front of me the whole class to make sure I could watch her demonstrate the steps. She adjusted me every step of the way, telling me I was doing a great job. All of this was paramount to my being able to trust the process of taking class with her, as she provided me with a combination of expertise and nurturing to allow me to feel safe and secure. I resonated deeply with her approach to teaching. The whole class took on the dynamic she established, which was kind, supportive and focused on learning the technique to the best of our ability because she was so passionately engaged with each and every one of us.
Miss Rita was my teacher until I was in high school, and is the reason my technique became so strong. After that she remained my mentor and the one I would turn to when I had a question about another dance class where the teacher was perhaps not as nurturing as her, or what schools to apply to for college when I felt my guidance counselor didn’t quite understand my goals. The trust I had in her and the support she gave me set the bar for the kind of standards I look for in a teacher whenever I undergo learning something new, especially with running my business. I was loyal to her because she a great dancer and teacher, but also because she had my best interest in mind at all times. I was her ideal client- a sensitive girl who wanted to become a dancer but was in need of technique training- and because of her dedication to excellence and the pride she took in her students, I feel loyal to her even to this day.
This is the exact kind of connection your ideal clients are looking for when they consider whether to buy from you or hire you as an artist: they want to know how well you know your own work, your own vision for it and how confident you can stand by what you do so they feel taken care of. If they feel this from you, your work will take on a deeper meaning for them, you will be able to reach them on a deeper level and they will, in turn, help you improve your work by giving you the feedback you need to improve it while investing in it time and again.
Your ideal client is the person who resonates deeply with your work, but it is up to you to establish a connection with them that lets them know you are engaged with them as much as they are with your work. This kind of connection creates loyal clients who will help you build a business with your art that is long-lasting, profitable and rewarding beyond what you are able to imagine.
I believe artists are hardwired to run the best businesses in the world. Help me prove my belief by taking action and sharing a theme that is integral to your art in the comments below or share a visual on Instagram using #artistsinbusiness and tag me: @alexisfedorpics!