Jessica Kehn

Courtesy of radesigner

Jessica Kehn
Artisan Dance Studio
Clintonville

I meet Jessica at Pete’s Coffee in Clintonville. She gets excited when the barista asks whether she wants a cup or a mug. “Ohh, a mug, please,” she answers. As I learn, Jessica finds an experience even in the minutiae of the day.

She’s the owner of Artisan Dance Studio in Clintonville, which concluded its second season in June of this year with a recital at Whetstone High School. “I love Clintonville. It’s incredibly family friendly. And the residents here make a point to support the businesses here,” she affirms. She is honored, too, that her studio plays a role in connecting neighbors. “Two ladies became friends through my ballet class and realized they lived across the street from each other. Now they walk to class together.” She frequently runs into her students throughout town, “I love seeing familiar faces,” she smiles.

Being located in Clintonville has also molded Jessica’s original vision for Artisan Dance Studio. “Adult classes. At first, I didn’t think I wanted to teach adults. One early email from a lady asking me about adult classes made me decide to put a couple on the original schedule. When those filled up, I added more. Now, we teach all different levels and types of adult classes and offer workshops for ‘absolute beginners’ to give them a comfortable environment to learn. Dance truly is for all ages.”

In starting up, I asked who her invaluable resources were. In addition to family and friends, she pointed to:

* Shout Out Studio for “reading my mind” and building the website she wanted all along
*The women of Clintonville Chamber of Commerce who greeted her with enthusiasm and smiles when she announced her plans for a dance studio. They tapped into their wealth of resources and experience whenever she needed support or wanted feedback. They gave her confidence to persevere.
*Beechwold Hardware for helping her ‘unlearn’ the hours of YouTube videos that failed to teach her how to properly drywall. She took endless notes while the staff patiently walked her through the process. The drywall is still proudly standing today.

Her low wasn’t dry-walling, though. “I was incredibly optimistic for opening day.” Only one person showed up. An adult lady who took a tap class. “I put so much heart and hard work getting to opening day. Then I realized I’d still have to work part-time waitressing at a pizza joint. It was so discouraging that this business that everyone kept congratulating me on couldn’t cover all the bills at first.”

Fortunately, enrollment grew. And by a lot. Her first feeling of success came after the studio’s first recital.

“After the show, people had such kind and wonderful things to say. I had set out to positively impact the community, to be a place where people could connect with their neighbor, dance and have fun, and learn a new skill. I felt I had accomplished that.”

And, from the dry-walling, to opening day, to that first recital, I asked Jessica if she had any advice she leaned on, “Yes! I remember taking a yoga class and the instructor had a mantra she said to herself when she needed to push through a challenging pose:

Shut the heck up, cutie pie.

When times were tough, I couldn’t give in to self-pity. This reminded me to push forward in a stern and positive way. I actually ran into that instructor at a coffee shop and told her that I borrowed her phrase. She laughed.”

Now that she has two seasons under her belt, I asked her how she likes to enjoy her days when not at the studio. Her eyes light up, “Tandem Tandem Pancake Rides.” This will need some explanation, I think to myself. Four people plus two tandem bikes riding from Clintonville to Worthington for a five dollar pancake breakfast at the Hills Market on Sunday mornings. “And coffee, too!” she grins. Afterwards, they may stop at Antrim Park to rest and watch dogs swimming in the lake.

Newly added to her Sundays, too, is giving tours at the Kelton House. “I love keeping history alive. This place is amazing. It’s not just a historical building, but it also has eighty percent of its original furnishings. Plus, I get to wear a hoop skirt,” she laughs. Selfishly, I ask if it is haunted, “Some people say so, but I hope not!” It would add to the experience, certainly.

She sips the last of the coffee in her mug. I conclude by asking her who she thinks makes Columbus great and why:

Mary McClory Rodgers

“Mary owns this great shop called Moxie’s Gifts, Candy and Party Room. Even more, she is on the leadership team of the Clintonville Historical Society. Clintonville has a fun, colorful history and Mary works hard to preserve it and tell its story. You’ll see her on the home and garden tour telling stories to guests riding the trolley. She also coordinates doing mural projects around the community.”

Judy Robinson

“Judy is an Adena Brook Community team leader. This is an amazing group committed to protecting the water supply and preserving the plants and animals in Adena Brook and Overbrook Ravine. Judy and the rest of the team lead trash pick-ups and take on huge tasks to clean and plant and preserve the natural biodiversity in that area.”

Thanks, Jessica, for making Columbus great!