ND Academy of Dance:
A Successful Dakota Business Lending Borrower

Jun 23, 2022

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Carina Schell was in first grade when she first laid eyes on a tutu.

From that moment on, she began a journey that would soon become her lifelong career. She enrolled in ballet shortly after and continued to dance throughout her childhood. 

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When it came time to graduate, Carina couldn’t fathom the idea of giving up this hobby that had become her passion. So, she decided to pursue this passion with everything she had.

“What started out as just a fun activity for me to do became such a bigger part of my life…and I had a really hard time thinking I was going to have to “grow up” and leave something I loved that much behind. I fought with that for a little bit, and then decided to go for it. I wanted to pursue the dream of turning what I love into a career.”

Carina attended the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Teacher Training Program and moved back to North Dakota to teach at a local studio. All the while, she was fostering a dream inside her head: to have a dance studio of her own.

After several years of teaching, she decided to take the leap and pursue her dream. In 2015, she opened North Dakota Academy of Dance.

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Over the past several years of being in business, momentum has continued to grow…so much so that, by 2020, Carina found herself having to turn students away due to capacity. “I couldn’t bear the thought of putting students on a waitlist who were progressing on so many levels,” shared Carina. If she wanted to continue to meet the demand, she needed a bigger studio.

Carina met with her banker at First International Bank & Trust, who introduced her to Dakota Business Lending and the SBA 504 business loan program. The program helped her purchase a larger building in South Fargo with five studios, a large waiting area, a kids play area, restrooms, and an apparel store. And she bought it all at a fixed, below-market interest rate, low down payment, and longer repayment term.

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“When First International Bank & Trust and Dakota Business Lending came in, they were nothing but helpful and supportive. It was a big leap of faith, but it’s been amazing to have a place that we know can be our permanent home and has the space to grow our program.”

Since then, ND Academy of Dance has continued to grow, with more 18 instructors who work to teach 320+ students ages 2-18 the art of ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, and more. Carina gives much of the credit to the parents and community who have supported her and her dream from the beginning.

Our dance families are amazing,” Carina shared. “We have so many supportive parents who have followed me throughout this journey.”

ND Academy of Dance focuses on giving back to this support system in any way they can, including making donations and being involved in community organizations such as the ND Autism Center and YWCA.

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Not only is Carina a dancer and owner of a thriving business, but she is also a passionate mom of three kids…something that has helped shaped and form her as a business owner throughout this journey. “Being a mom-preneur is really challenging, but also the most rewarding thing in the world,” explained Carina. “I get to have two families – my family at home and my dance family – and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.” She credits a lot of her success to her husband, who has helped her every step of the way with the building plans, financing and paperwork, installing studio equipment, and endless support.

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Carina’s journey hasn’t been easy, but she has relied on the professionals around her to listen, share their expertise, and help guide her in the right direction. And after all the hard work she has put in, she looks back with nothing but pride.

“Sometimes I just have to sit back and admire everything that has happened. So many people think that I’ve done something for them, but really they have done something for me. They helped a girl with a tutu grow her dream into something far beyond what I ever imagined.”

For more information on ND Academy of Dance or to enroll in their classes, visit their website.

This article was written by Dakota Business Lending with permission from ND Academy of Dance and is not to be edited or redistributed without permission.