Best friends start businesses with altruistic intententions

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Tiffany Lewis and Maya Dorsey first met while singing praise in the choir at Covenant of the Cross.

From the moment the two struck up a conversation, it was clear that they had a strong connection. It wasn’t long before the two women became best of friends united by their entrepreneurial spirit and penchant for helping others.

Lewis started Crossed Feet Studio last month and offers private dance lessons in her clients’ homes, offering them the gift of dance without worry of who is watching. Dorsey created Events by Maya two months ago to help her same-sex clients plan the events of their dreams without awkward explanations. Now, the women act as each other’s sounding board when dealing with the snags along the way.

Just a few years ago, Lewis worked for a dance studio in Nashville.  She said it was painful to watch some students struggle when faced with the impossibility of fitting into the stereotypical mold of what a dancer should be. 

As passionate students began to give up dance, Lewis started to see a real calling to create a judgment-free dance space.  It was then that the seed of Lewis’s business was planted; she’d create a dance studio where the focus wasn’t on fitting in, but on standing out.
 
 “A lot of my students told me they wouldn’t [take] lessons in the beginning for fear of being watched and scrutinized by others,” Lewis said. “They wanted to dance but they also wanted to feel confident before they went out in a group setting, so there it was.” 

Lewis found a demand for private lessons where people could dance without worrying about looking foolish in front of others in the class. She decided to offer in-home lessons with her new business Crossed Feet Studio (crossedfeetdance.com).  Now, she delights in seeing students light up when they master a new move and discover themselves through dance, she said.

“They become empowered and confident,” Lewis said. “You watch the person become outwardly who they are on the inside. I love knowing that I am improving someone’s quality of life.”
 
Dorsey’s business plan grew from her own frustrations while trying to plan the wedding of she and her then-fiance Denise in 2006.

While making arrangements and searching for venues for the ceremony, they were faced with the same issue time and time again; at each venue they were forced to explain their unique situation.

“There were some times [when we felt] so uncomfortable explaining to people that she was my fiancé and yes she is a woman” Dorsey said. 

The couple was repeatedly told that gay and lesbian weddings had never been held at the venues they inquired about. Dorsey soon realized she’d be better off taking the planning into her own hands and thus found another love – event planning.

Dorsey opened ‘Events By Dorsey’ a couple months ago and, fittingly enough, she kicked-off her business by planning Lewis’ wedding. She also served as maid of honor.

Though their business start-ups were a brave endeavor in this uncertain economic time, the women say their focus is on helping people who previously haven’t had a place to turn for their services – and for that, there’s no time to wait.