Women's History Month: Caitlin Cass
By: Caitlin Cass
Something our society has some big feelings about. Love to build them up or love to tear them down, love to make a point out of them or love to aspire to be like them. A lot of strong women don’t even consider themselves to be anything special or particularly “strong”, and there’s a certain beauty in that. Do I consider myself a strong woman? Not particularly, but I was so honored to be asked to participate in this Women’s History Month Journey Share, and my story may inspire others.
When I was three years old I started taking dance lessons. I instantly fell in love with moving to music, taking up a space with leaps, turns and twirls, and pretending I was a famous ballerina. Dance was immediately such an important part of my life, and one that has been with me ever since. When I was in high school I began assisting my dance teacher with the younger classes and helping them get ready for the upcoming recital. I found that I loved watching the students who had been struggling with a dance step or combination finally get it! The excitement on their faces when the light bulb came on and everything finally clicked into place was a feeling I never grew tired of. I knew I wanted to continue teaching dance and helping others find their passion, joy and excitement through the movement of dance. I went to The University of New Hampshire and studied Theatre and Dance with a minor in Family Studies, and taught dance classes on the weekends. Lots of family friends said I should really get a business degree so I could one day open up my own studio. I never, ever wanted to be a business owner and have my own studio, so I just politely told them that was not part of my plan.
After teaching for seven years at the studio I taught at post college, my husband and I found ourselves moving to another part of New Hampshire, and I needed to find a new studio in which to teach. I had a job working at an elementary school during the day, and wanted to be able to teach dance classes after school. There was one studio about twenty minutes away from where we were to be moving, and my interview went wonderfully. I taught a couple of demo classes over the summer and was hired for the fall dance season. I loved the families, the community and the culture at this studio, and knew this was an excellent fit for me. During my second year teaching there my husband and I were ready to start a family, and I became pregnant. I was so excited to take maternity leave and then get right back into teaching my wonderful students. During this same time the studio owner I was working for had a family member become very ill in another state, and had to take time away from work to take care of her family. I took over running the day to day things, but all big decisions were up to her remotely. It was a tough year working at the elementary school, half running this dance studio and being pregnant, and at the end of the school year the studio owner decided to move permanently to be with her family and the studio would dissolve.
One of the other teachers at the studio and I had a decision to make: either we’d try to find teaching jobs elsewhere (there were no other studios around so we’d have to drive quite a distance) or we could create our own dance studio and run this business together. Did I mention I was about to have a baby?! We gave it a lot of thought, and decided that we really could not let dance leave this community and these families, so I pulled up my maternity pants and agreed to start this business with my new business partner, Sam.
Did I regret not taking those business classes I kept being encouraged to take? Ehh, not really. I had some experience with how things ran, and I knew things I didn’t like about the previous studios I had worked at and wanted to change. Did I really have a clue what I was doing? Not in terms of setting up an LLC, dealing with the taxes and making sure the business had all its ducks in a row legally, but what I lacked in business sense (that luckily Sam was able to take on) I made up for in enthusiasm, being organized, communicating with parents, and showing up for my community. Did I know how to run an actual business? Heck no, but I could teach a mean dance class, and that’s what I was leading with. I was convinced that everything else would work itself out if the community continued to have quality dance classes.
There have been so many learning curves to get through and trial and error, but I’m so happy to say we are nearing the end of our third year, and have had so much growth since our first session. The word of mouth in the community has been a huge advertiser for us, and we have come a long way. We are consistent, we are reliable, we communicate and communicate and communicate all schedule changes, new classes, performances and events, and learn as we go. I have become a better person from this experience, and though it’s not where I ever thought I’d be, I am so thankful for this experience.
The other thing I became vehemently passionate about after my daughter was born was cleaning up my home and cleaning up my life in terms of chemicals. I began to do research in different products I had been using my whole life, and was shocked and disgusted at all the harsh chemicals and endocrine disruptors they contained- especially in my household cleaners. Did I want to wash my bathtub with Clorox and then have my daughter take a bath in the tub, absorbing the cleaner right through her skin and splashing it into her mouth? Did I want to wash my floor with Kaboom and then have my daughter crawl all over the floor and eat snacks she dropped off that same floor? Did I want to be washing my windows with Windex and then having my daughter lick and kiss the window as she watched her dad come home from work? Absolutely not! I was so intent on cleaning up my home and my own life, and creating a better life for my daughter- this perfectly clean slate who had every opportunity to be healthy and happy. I wanted her to have the best immune system, the best skin, the best endocrine system, the best digestive system… the best everything she possibly could!
One of my good friends from the elementary school I had previously worked at introduced me to Young Living, and my world was forever changed. Not only are they this incredible Essential Oils company that has been around for over 25 years and has this fantastic Seed to Seal promise, but they are an entire wellness company. They have a plant based cleaner that is a one stop shop- cleans it all. I have been able to get rid of my 10 different cleaners and use the Thieves Household Cleaner for everything, and know that my family and I are safe. Switching over to the Thieves laundry soap has saved us tons of money, and again, is safe. Why has it saved us so much money? It’s a super concentrated product (all of the Thieves products are!) and I use this awesome hack for making a gallon at a time with ¼ cup of the laundry soap, baking soda, washing soda, a little Thieves household cleaner and hot water. I bought this $29.50 laundry soap a year ago and still have ⅓ of it left. What?? One of the many reasons why I love these safe and healthy products.
Adding in the use of these essential oils into my everyday life has truly given me such a better quality of life. My immune system is better (no more getting every single cold and flu that comes to my dance studio), my sleep is better (something I’ve struggled with my whole life), my mood is better, my anxiety is more under control, and my confidence has really risen. I have helped many friends and family ditch and switch products in their homes, get better sleep, feel better after exercising, make their homes smell better (the diffuser is a crowd favorite!) and change their own lives. Nothing has felt more empowering in my entire life than having safe options and products for my family, and being able to help others find success in them as well. Making Young Living a second business for myself and an extra income for my family has been amazing, and each time I read an article about how horrible Lysol is, or how a child got sick from drinking Tide laundry detergent, I am so very grateful to have better options in my home.
I’ve loved bringing my two businesses together by diffusing at the dance studio, helping dance parents get started with Young Living, giving dancers muscle pain support, wearing all my good vibe oils to an extra challenging dance class, and teaching dance and essential oils combo classes. My two passions have come together beautifully, and I am so happy for this life! I highly encourage any woman out there who has a dream or a passion but is too scared to go for it or too worried about failure to give it a shot! You never know what you are capable of until there is a fire under you causing you to make a decision, a change, a leap. Find what fuels you and go for it; do the thing, take the chance, make the trip. You will be a better person for it! Do I consider myself a strong woman; hmm. Maybe I am.