Black Dog, an acting studio opens for theatrical kids

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As she flips the sign to say open and sets out the sign-in sheet, she smiles, thinking back to two years ago when she first started the journey her business would bring.

“The main reason I started my own business was because I was tired of working for other people,” Kat Davis, an entrepreneur, said. “For years I had said that if I had to do it over again, I would be a teacher. Then I realized that I had a lot of years left, so why not start over?”

In Nov.  of 2018, Davis and her husband decided to open their own business: Black Dog, an acting studio for kids. Just producing the name alone took them six weeks, and finding a location took another two months.

“There’s a lot of paperwork. There’s background checks and filling out paperwork for the school district. We had to apply for a business license and open bank accounts. There was tax paperwork and forms to join the chamber of commerce,” Davis said.

Originally, Black Dog was an after-school club. This presented its own challenges, especially when they had to be background checked by the school district. They had to “go to the school district’s headquarters to be fingerprinted” and have a “picture taken.”

“One of our challenges [with starting a business] was finding a place we could afford to rent. The biggest challenge in any business is making sure people know about you so you have customers when you open your doors,” Davis said. “That’s where my background in advertising really came in handy.”

Their inspiration to start a theater studio came from her husband Jeff Davis’ theater degree. Also, when their twins were old enough to start participating in theater, they realized “there wasn’t a lot of theater in the western communities.”

“[In the future,] I would help run some of the games [while] Kat helps Jeff clean up,” Brigid Davis, their daughter, said. “I could probably be left in charge a whole lot more if Kat had to go do [something] and Jeff was at home checking on the dogs.”

Even now, when Black Dog has been running since 2019, there is still work to be done. Kat Davis and her husband have to keep the website up to date, plan their calendar, send invoices, process registrations, order items, file taxes, and write checks.

“Hopefully [we can hire employees] someday soon. Why not would be because we aren’t making enough money for it. And why would be because we could use the help on a day-to-day basis,” Jeff Davis said.

While they may not have any dedicated employees, they do have some teachers they hire to teach specific classes. This produces additional work, such as aligning their schedules, tracking how much to pay them, and some additional tax paperwork.

“I watched my dad open his own business when I was five years old, and he was a great role model and an awesome boss to his employees,” Kat Davis said. “Although he passed away a few years before we opened Black Dog, he was my inspiration, and I think I would be making him proud.”

Now that the day is over, she sweeps the floors, takes out the trash, wipes down the tables, and cleans the bathrooms. Thinking of her father as she turns the key, she smiles. It may have been a long journey, but it was well worth the trip.