Michael and Ashleigh LaJoice took a trip last fall to the Island of Capri, Italy, on a group trip set up by Fr. Harvey, retired priest from St. John Catholic Church.
Michael LaJoice, 36, is an accountant by day and a dance studio owner by night. As Chief Financial Officer for the Clarkston-Brandon Community Credit Union for the past 12 years, his days are spent crunching numbers, then his evenings are for spent running the studio and spending time with his wife, Ashleigh, and their three children, Michael, Jr., 5, Emma, 3, and Madelyn, 2.
How did you and Ashleigh meet?
We both played trumpet in Marching Band at Linden High School. It was love at first sight for me. I can’t speak for her. I was older, graduating in 1997, while Ashley graduated in 2002. I’ve always liked her morals and strong work ethic. She works harder than I do, running around after three kids all day.
How did you get into the dance studio business?
We danced at a studio in the Detroit area to get ready for our wedding in June 2006. We looked at their basic idea and wanted to improve on it. I’ve always wanted to be an accountant, but now my entrepreneurial spirit has definitely kicked in. We opened Chassé in October 2007, and Ashleigh ran it until 2010. She wanted to stay home when Michael was born, and I respected that.
Do you still dance?
I used to dance. I just don’t have time any more. The waltz is my favorite step. I like all music, although I’m not usually a big fan of country. We’re breaking into it with line dancing at the studio and I’m warming up to it.
You’re quite involved with drum and bugle corps. Can you tell me about that?
I love to watch it. It’s like marching band on steroids! Kids from age 15 to 21 join a corps in the summer and travel around the country, practicing 16 hours a day. They perform in NFL and college stadiums for about 25,000 people on their final night. It’s a non-profit group which I do help support.
The Chassé name is everywhere. What does the name mean? Any future plans?
Chassé is a dance step where one foot leads and the other foot follows. Believe it or not, we’ve already outgrown our space. We have dancers coming to our studio from a 50-mile radius. We’re now open all day, five days a week and Saturday morning. My goal in 10 years is to open 10 more studios. Our marketing ensures that people already know who we are, as far away as Bay City, Frankenmuth, Novi, Bloomfield Hills, etc.
What motivated you to spend $4,000 on a pie at the St. John’s Applefest?
I’ve been going to St. John’s all my life, since kindergarten. It’s important that I support our church. I never intended this pie thing to happen, but it’s been five years now. I have to give a shout-out to Roger Sharp, who’s been buying the second place pie every year for 30 years. It helps that it tastes good, too.
What are your top five priorities in life?
1) God 2) Ashleigh 3) My kids 4) Making sure employees are well taken care of and happy 5) Trying to find new talent to work for us.
If you could live your life differently, what would you do?
I’d react more calmly to things, not be such a hot head. My kids have taught me to be patient. I’ve made mistakes at the studio, just like any business owner.
What is something no one knows about you?
Most people think I’m private and introverted, but I’m more fun-loving than I appear.