Small town business owner nominated for national award

·2 min read

Maddi Pond, a 21-year-old who founded Amp it Up dance studio in Salisbury, has been nominated for the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Ones to Watch.

Her studio will mark its second anniversary in May, she said. Despite opening the year before the pandemic, the school is still seeing student numbers grow, with more than 100 now enrolled, she said.

Pond believes there has been a lot of interest in the school because it fills a need for recreation and emphasizes positive body image and inclusion, something she says is not common enough in the world of dance.

A former competitive dancer, Pond has been teaching dance camps in Salisbury since she was 14.

The River Glade native attended grade school in Salisbury and is now completing her last year at Mount Allison University before pursing a teaching degree at Crandall University this fall. In her second year at Mount A, she won the Reisman Internship, awarding her $15,000 to start her business, as well as pairing her with a mentor.

“I’m not surprised" by her award nomination and success, said Krista Steeves, Mount A’s director of experiential learning and career development. "She’s a remarkable young entrepreneur.”

The Reisman Internship, part of a suite of programs for entrepreneurs at Mount A, helps students take ideas into action, she said.

Businesses like Amp it Up have a real benefit and community impact, said Steeves. “They are a force for good.”

One of those community benefits in this case is providing jobs to other young women, said Pond. She currently teaches half the classes herself, but has a staff of six teaching the other half. All of her teachers are local teens who she has trained for years, and who also form her competitive dance team, she said.

While she hopes the Salisbury will continue to grow, her five-year plan also includes opening a second studio in another location.

At 21, “it still feels funny to use the word role model,” said Pond. But on the other hand, she is glad that a nomination fo the national award can demonstrate that young women in a small town can be recognized.

Pond said she has filled out some forms to officially accept the nomination and will have a small dinner with family to celebrate.

The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards are national awards that have been running for 29 years in celebration of women who demonstrate excellence and have been awarded to women across multiple sectors. Nominations closed Friday. Finalists will be announced Sept. 15, and the winners announced at a gala Nov. 17.

Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal