The Community Loan Fund has been helping businesses and individuals be successful since 1985 and offers a variety of programs and resources. They provide access to capital for microenterprises and freelancers for business development. This article is a part of a series that highlights local businesses who have benefitted from a Community Loan Fund Loan.
Natalia and Florin Vlad opened Dance Fire Studio & Fitness in 2017, because they wanted to start a business that would offer world-class ballroom dance lessons to the Capital Region. Natalia says that they especially wanted to be independently owned, “because we don’t have the same restrictions as other dance studios. If we need to switch something, we can. We have the freedom and flexibility to create the best experience for our clients.” Natalia and Florin also keep their own dance careers in full swing — they are three-time national finalists, and compete in both national and international competitions,most recently in Paris.
Dance Fire had been renting space to do their dance lessons but they knew they wanted a space of their own, and that they would need a loan to open a “dance home” that everyone could benefit from. They began working with the Small Business Development Center, who helped them create a business plan. Someone at the center recommended the Community Loan Fund for lending options, because their business was nontraditional.
Upon contacting the Community Loan Fund, they were matched up with Destiny, a loan support representative. “The process wasn’t just an application. You have to present to a group of investors and Destiny helped us prepare for that” Natalia said. “We felt supported through the entire process, from reviewing our business plan, to the presentation, The Community Loan Fund was a great help. To this day, if we need support, we know we can count on The Community Loan Fund.” The process took 8 months from start to finish, and in November 2017 they opened Dance Fire Studio & Fitness, with 4,400 sq ft of floating wooden dance floor, a temperature controlled facility, a high quality sound system, changing rooms, and more. “We knew we wanted a high quality space. We wanted to do it right- create a place for our students to have access to a quality studio and feel comfortable.”
When asked why Natalia and Florin decided to open their business in the Capital Region, they said,”The location is great, it’s close to major cities. All the businesses in the area want you to succeed. The sense of community is just different. And the cost of living allows us to have a facility that would be much harder to get in New York City!”
The Community Loan Fund offers a variety of lending options and continued support for non traditional businesses like Dance Fire Studio & Fitness. Many traditional banks would call this a high risk, and it would be highly unlikely that the loan would be approved. The Community Loan Fund offers reviews on a case-by-case basis for its financial viability and positive social impact. If you are looking to expand your business, you can get more information and set up a time to talk with someone at The Community Loan Fund by clicking here.