Features - Entrepreneurial Alumni
Posted 01 December 2016
March 2015 Intake
Ziba Sidrys (London, March 2015), a graduate of Saint Louis University, MO, "took an unconventional turn" and started her own dance company, upon her return home to Chicago after completing the London programme. The company "Confidance Chicago" www.confidancechicago.com, "fuses together hip hop classes and group chats that allow women to be more confident and proud of their unique bodies and personalities". Ziba teaches classes and facilitates the discussions in the studio, as well as writing for numerous start-ups during the working day. In her account below, Ziba describes how she had never considered being an entrepreneur because she thought it sounded like an "independent, lonely and harrowing endeavor", but to her surprise, starting a program was "quite organic, communal and exciting" once she just put herself out there. Ziba advises "there will never be an ideal time and you'll never do it if you're waiting for everything to be perfectly planned".
How did you get into this line of business?
My year in London, working for UBS, was a great and challenging immersion into the business world. I found it very beneficial as it gave me the confidence I needed to start a business of my own. But to be completely honest, it was living in London - surrounding myself with the creatives (musicians, dancers, fashion designers, etc.) that gave me the inspiration I needed to take the risk and pursue a career in dance.
How did you go about setting it up and getting established?
I have never considered being an entrepreneur because I thought it sounded like an independent, lonely and harrowing endeavor, but to my surprise, starting a program was quite organic, communal and exciting once I just put myself out there. Once people found out what I was doing, one thing lead to another, and so many people regularly contact me, wanting to get involved and help in some way. Social Media has obviously been a great way to connect, but I'd say reconnecting with old friends has been the most helpful.
What else is in the pipeline?
Starting mid-January Confidance Chicago classes will be held weekly at a studio called Dance Center Chicago. Not only do we have lots of cool classes set up, we also have a few of concerts, meet-ups, and other events in the works, which will be held at the same venue. It was the greatest blessing to find this studio, which is flexible and whose owner is very excited to be partnering with Confidance.
What has been the proudest moment in your working life thus far?
I still find it hard to believe I accomplished so much during my year with Mountbatten. It will always be something I'm very proud of - moving abroad, studying a postgraduate degree and working in London's financial district. But if I had to pick a particular moment in my working life that I'm most proud of, it would be when I launched my Confidance website globally and shared it with everyone I knew. It was the point of no return. It was as though I was making a commitment publicly that this is something I'm starting and it's no longer just a dream.
What are your future plans?
The plans I have for the future of Confidance are limitless. I plan to host workshops, plan events and travel the world with it. I know I have to be practical at the same time, so for now I'm putting a lot of my energy and effort into Confidance, while also building my web-design, marketing and writing skills. If I see that my creative way of life is sustainable and worthwhile, I'll continue at the same speed. If not, I'll still keep Confidance Chicago, but have it more as a side-gig than a career path.
What has been your biggest learning experience?
I definitely noticed that I'm not as quick to maximize profits when I probably should. It's quite ironic considering I studied international business, but I just want people to have access to my classes without having the cost become a barrier. Maybe throughout the years, and with experience I'll figure out the right pricing.
Any words of advice/wisdom would you impart to others thinking of setting up their own business?
My advice lately is that if you have an idea - run with it and don't look back. If you are constantly thinking in the back of your mind that you would love to start a company or create some sort of program, you should do it now. There will never be an ideal time and you'll never do it if you're waiting for everything to be perfectly planned. Some people tried telling me that I should only make my company public once it was fully formed, but I decided against that and I'm really happy I did. Now my students and followers can grow with me and be involved in the exciting transformation.