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