Business Idea: Salsa Dancing

Fame And Fortune

It was on the club and competition scene that people first learned Janette Valenzuela's name. Twenty-eight-year-old Valenzuela, who appeared in the 1998 feature film Dance With Me, loved to perform, and she had always wanted to start her own business to complement her dancing, singing and acting career. "I searched all my life to find the perfect product to sell," she says. "I came across this shoe line, and when I saw it, it just clicked. I said, 'This is the perfect venue for me.'"

At first, Valenzuela purchased shoes from other designers and sold them, but in 1999, she designed her own line, Salsera Con Shoes. Now her challenge is dealing with the factories that manufacture them. "You have to acquire the materials, heels, labor and machinery," she says, "and it can get tricky because it's a specialty item."

Still, in a good month, Salsera Con Shoes sells up to 20,000 pairs of shoes, priced at $80 to $115 per pair. Valenzuela plans to market her shoes--now sold under the label Star by Janette--not only to the dance world, but to the general entertainment world as well. The line has already been worn by performers in the Cher World Tour as well as in the Broadway show Swing.

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This article was originally published in the February 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Business Idea: Salsa Dancing.

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