Entrepreneurism all in the family: Mother and daughter expanding businesses

Kathryn Schulte, left, and her daughter, April Schulte-Barclay, oversee very different businesses in the Dance Works dance studio and Healing Horizons health care practice, respectively. But the two share a passion for their work and are expanding their Grand Junction operations at the same time. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Phil Castle, The Business Times

April Schulte-Barclay has learned a lot from her mother: how to dance, but also how to serve customers, make a difference in people’s lives and ultimately run a successful business.

So it’s not entirely coincidental Schulte-Barclay and her mother, Kathryn Schulte, are expanding their Grand Junction ventures at the same time.

Schulte-Barclay always assumed she could go into business for herself, although she didn’t realize at first her mother was her entrepreneurial role model. “I just took it for granted. “ Schulte says never doubted her daughter would be successful. “She has an amazing sense of business.”

Schulte-Barclay operates Healing Horizons. The integrated health care practice she founded in 2004 offers a wide range of services that include acupuncture, massage therapy and lifestyle counseling.

Schulte-Barclay says she’s one of only three practitioners in Colorado who hold doctoral degrees in acupuncture and oriental medicine and the only such practitioner on the Western Slope.

Schulte operates Dance Works, a dance studio she founded in 1980 that offers instruction in a wide range of styles that includes ballet, jazz and hip hop. Dance Works also offers competitive dance teams and musical theater.

Healing Horizons is expanding into an adjacent space in an office complex on 12th Street, increasing the physical size of the operation by a third, Schulte-Barclay says. The added space will accommodate additional treatment rooms as well as a conference room in which practitioners will be able to meet and collaborate on treatment plans.

Nine practitioners work at Healing Horizons and another acupuncturist soon will join the operation.

The practitioners work with doctors and other health care providers in offering care that complements, not replaces, Western medicine, Schulte-Barclay says.

“It’s not either-or.”

Schulte-Barclay expects the expanded space to be available starting in mid-June.

Meanwhile, construction proceeds on a new and larger location for Dance Works on Patterson Road. At 6,200 square feet, the new location will be about a third larger than the existing location on North Avenue.

“It’s going to be start of the art,” Schulte says.

Schulte says she was able to design the facility from scratch out of a vacant space that used to house the back half of a fabric outlet. The facility will include five studio spaces as well as dressing rooms and a store. Parents will be able to watch classes on televisions in an expanded reception area.

The new location also should be complete by mid-June, she says.

A professional dancer who performed with the Utah Civic Ballet and Pacific Ballet Company, Schulte founded Dance Works to share her passion for dancing with students in the Grand Valley.

Schulte also instilled that passion in her three daughters, who followed in their mother’s footsteps to study dance and pursue professional dancing careers of their own.

Schulte-Barclay says she studied acupuncture and oriental medicine as a way to address the unique health care problems of dancers and other athletes, although she later broadened her interests.

Dance instruction offers a good foundation for entrepreneurism in that it instills confidence, teamwork and the motivation to perform at a higher level, Schulte-Barclay says.

In addition to dance, Schulte-Barclay says she learned other things from her mother, in particular the importance of customer service. “I learned to value each face that comes through the door and honor why they’re here.”

Schulte agrees customer service ranks among the most important determinants of business success. “I think the first thing is customer service. You’ve got to genuinely care about your clientele.”

Schulte-Barclay says her mother never failed in that regard. “You always worked to make a difference in  peoples’s lives. It’s just so inspiring.”

Striving to treat customers and employees fairly and striking a balance between work and family are important as well, the two say.

For Schulte, work and family remain inseparable.

In addition to running her own business, Schulte-Barclay continues to teach classes as Dance Works, as does her sisters, Crystal and Rachel Schulte.

Schulte considers herself fortunate to work with her daughters. “It’s absolutely incredible.”

Schulte expects her daughters to continue operating Dance Works after she retires, and the new location will help them in that endeavor.

In the meantime, Schulte and Schulte-Barclay say they’re looking forward to what turned out to be the simultaneous expansion of their business operations.

But given their history together, it’s not entirely coincidental.