Our interview today is with Emily Scott, company cofounder and one of the three incredible women behind Dance Happy Designs. Dance Happy Designs creates screen printed fabric with original, hand cut designs, and uses that fabric to produce Dance Happy’s adorable line of bags, table runners, pendants and pillows. This inspiring trio of cofounders are a perfect example of the beauty that is created when we embrace and celebrate our differences!
Name: Emily Scott
Company: Dance Happy Designs
Job Title: Co-founder & Business Manager
Currently based in: Swarthmore, PA
Originally from: Wilmington, DE (my other two co-founders are from Wallingford, PA and Philadelphia, PA)
I’m like the Energizer Bunny: I just keep going! I work really well off very little sleep, which is good because my plate is constantly full of lots of exciting projects.
Name a woman in history that you admire & why:
Sally Ride: the first American woman in space! She broke barriers and showed generations of young girls to come what is possible with hard work and persistence. I’ve always been fascinated with outer space, ever since I was a child, and loved daydreaming about flying among the stars like Sally. If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would have definitely pursued a career in science.
Quote/piece of advice that you live by:
“If it were easy, everyone would do it.” I know it’s a common saying, but it’s a good one to keep in mind when things get tough (as they often do being an entrepreneur!)
What inspired you to start your current venture?
There are three of us ladies who founded Dance Happy: Julia, Liv, and myself (Emily). Julia is the true inspiration behind the company though: she LOVES to dance! Honestly, our print studio doubles as dance floor half the time (you can check out some of Julia’s dance breaks on our Instagram page).
The three of us have been close friends for many years, but we started Dance Happy together about two years ago when Julia was aging out of the school system at age 21 and she needed to figure out what she could do full-time. A traditional work environment would not have been a good fit for her, so we decided to try screen printing (Liv’s background) because Julia has a very creative side. Julia loved creating her own hand cut patterns and screen printing the fabric so much that we decided to make a go of it and we’ve been doing it ever since!
We create home decor and lifestyle products from the hand cut patterns Julia creates, which we use on the fabric that Julia and Liv co-print together. I sew all of our product lines. At this point in time, everything in our studio is still done by hand (and made with a whole lot of love!)
What is your company doing to make history today?
We’re on a mission to empower people who would normally be overlooked or assumed as being incapable of doing certain things based off one aspect of who they are. One of our co-founders, Julia, has Down Syndrome (she’s also our co-printer and lead pattern designer– she actually cuts each of our patterns by hand!) and she is forging her own path by creating a meaningful career for herself. Dance Happy is all about proving what is possible when someone decides to break outside of the box they’ve been put in by other people.
What is one thing your company has accomplished that you are most proud of?
We’re coming up on the two-year mark of working on Dance Happy together and we’re really proud of that in itself. What Julia is choosing to do with her career is pretty revolutionary and we weren’t sure how people would respond to it or our very organic-looking hand cut patterns. We’ve been blown away by the reception we’ve received and are just so excited to continue to grow our venture together!
What is one project you are currently working on that you are most excited about?
We have several projects we’re currently working on we’re super pumped about, but one of the biggest ones is a partnership with The Lucky Few‘s founder, Heather Avis. We’re creating swag bags for some speaking events she has coming up this summer!
What, in your opinion, is one of the biggest challenges facing your industry today?
Small business is tough, regardless of which industry you’re in – you have limited resources and as a founder, you’re typically doing a dozen different jobs all at once. I think for us, specifically (because one of our partners has a disability and everything we make is done by hand), we have a different pace than most makers. This can just be a bit challenging at times if we’re running low on products (like during the holiday season) as we do everything in small batches. There’s a lot of care and attention that goes into our product lines, but that also means our lead times can be a bit longer if we’re out of a specific product. We try to make sure we have as much of our product line in stock as possible so that we can minimize the lead time.
What were you doing before your current role?
I’m the owner of a clothing boutique called Compendium Boutique. I started that business six years ago, and I’ve kept it going in addition to being a co-founder at Dance Happy. So I’ve got a lot going on. Hence, my superpower!
What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to other female founders & change-makers?
It’s super important to ask for help when you need it and to not go at it alone (or feel like you’re alone). Surround yourself with good people who will support you and lift you up! I find that having a good support system helps me feel like I can take more risks and really spread my wings. Julia, Liv, and myself have created a wonderful sisterhood at Dance Happy; we all support one another by bringing something unique to the table and embracing our individuality. We make sure to highlight one another’s strengths so that each one of us can shine in our own way. We also let the other two ladies help out when there are areas where one of us may be weaker. It’s a true partnership. Find your tribe and nurture it!
Are there any great resources you have discovered (programs, websites/apps, groups, etc.) that you would like to share?
Dreamers//Doers is an ah-may-zing network of women from a wide range of industries. It helps to build your tribe beyond your immediate circle and I’ve met so many incredible, smart, inspiring women through the group. Sometimes it just helps to talk to other people (in your field or not) about their challenges and how they face them head-on. I recommend applying for membership if that is something you’re looking for and you’re wanting to lift up other women.
Fun fact about yourself:
I was a contestant on the Price is Right! I didn’t get off Bidder’s Row though (boo).
If you/your company is currently hiring or looking for partnerships, where can readers go to find more information?
We’re always looking for partnerships or opportunities to create custom patterns for licensing! If you’re interested in throwing ideas around or just want to chat, please send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Take it one day at a time and even if you only do 1% better today than you did yesterday, you’ll eventually get there. You got this!