Evan and Lada Mountain are not only business partners in Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. They’re also a married couple. We asked them what it’s like working and living together 24/7 – what works, what doesn’t, what advice they can offer other couples who might like to go into business together.
Lada: I am starting to believe it is the only way to do it due to the ballroom dance industry-specific lifestyle -which includes travel, fun entertainment , many, many late hours and early starts every morning. Plus, there must be meticulous paperwork alongside artistic freedom and space. It is hard to switch from a dry marketing, planning meeting to a fabulous event. That’s where a trusty partnership is so valuable – because we can divide our duties.
Evan: We take different roles within the studio and how we do things. We both have learned how to operate together and support each other. We don’t always agree on things, so we have discussions where we look at the pros and cons. It’s healthy and it works out, give and take. Generally I take the marketing and finance side of things. Lada takes the students and staff. We collaborate on training staff, working with them and helping them during staff meetings.
Lada: A great thing about working with your spouse is that no one suffers from jealousy because there is a complete understanding what our work includes and what hours it takes to do it.
Evan: In a way, our business partnership looks a lot like parenting – like children will do with their parents, instructors will go to one of us if they don’t get the answer they want from the other. We have to be a united front. I back out a lot. I tell them go to Lada.
Lada: Do we constantly talk about our plans and challenges: mostly yes. But sometimes, when we walk the dogs, we make an agreement not to talk about work for the length of the entire walk and catch each other when one of us slips. When we succeed, that’s when our great ideas come about!
Evan: We try not to talk about business at home. Sometimes one or the other of us will say, ‘ok we’re at home, let’s put it aside.’
Lada: When we travel just for ourselves, we like to keep it simple, down to nature, enjoyment – hiking, outdoor challenges. Forget fancy dresses and high heels. Because in our business, we have constant excursions out of town or weekend plans and projects that are usually pretty fancy.
Evan: It was interesting, recently in our team meeting, I was sharing some information with the teachers, and one of the teachers said, ‘Well you two need to spend more time together and laugh and not just work all the time.’ And I looked at her and said, ‘We do, we just don’t share that with you. We have a blast. We’re always having fun and doing things.’