Mar 14, 2017

Featured Franchise Owner – Miss Claire

Every month we like to highlight one of our terrific franchise owners to hear their story and how they got started. This month, we’re speaking to Claire Portolese, who owns her franchises in Annapolis and surrounding areas.

Hi Miss Claire!

Thank you for taking time to talk to us about your journey.  We can all learn from each other through sharing our journeys. Please tell us a little about yourself.


Where did you grow up and how did you come to be in Washington DC?

I grew up in Tulsa, OK where I became lifelong friends with three adorable sisters at the age of 5! We played school together, took tennis together, played in the neighborhood together and danced together….in fact I even taught them summer dance camp on my sidewalk! After college, I started working for a large consulting firm in Atlanta. My husband started working for the same company in a different city, and we met at the training center our first three weeks of work! We quickly realized that we needed to be in the same city if we were going to start a life together and we moved to Washington, DC in 2001. After 13 years in the consulting industry, I had the pleasure of joining my childhood friends’ amazing business – Tippi Toes®!


How long have you had your TippiToes?

I started Tippi Toes® DC July 2012, so we have been operating 4.5 years.


Did you ever think you’d be a business owner?

Honestly, I always had aspirations to be an executive, but I did not think I would be a business owner. My husband was always the one with the obvious entrepreneurial spirit so I just assumed it would be him!


What made you decide to choose this business?

I loved following the story of Tippi Toes® from afar! It was such a great story of two intelligent, young, motivated women starting a business in college doing what they always loved…teaching dancing! When I came to a point in life where my corporate career was continuing to progress, but the progression was not making me happy or accommodating my role as a mother, I decided it was time to make a change. I met with many, many old colleagues and friends to discuss what my next step in my career might be and would bring up Tippi Toes® at the end of the meeting. My eyes would sparkle, and my heart would beat faster. Finally, my husband said, when are you going to call and tell them you want to buy a franchise? So I did! It was the best decision ever.


What advice do you have for other people starting out on this road?

Take the leap! If it is the right time in your life to make a change, take the chance and do it!


What is the best thing about being a business owner?

The rewards! Knowing that what you are doing is having a positive impact on children and families including your own! The flexibility I have allows me to attempt “to do it all” – I get a chance to try and strike a balance between work and family. And my children get the benefit of being a part of a business and the opportunity to watch their mom in the role of running and growing a business.


What is the most challenging thing about being a business owner?

Knowing that you are responsible for every decision along the way and accepting that you may not always make the right decision


If you could go back in time what advice would you give yourself?

There are many moments during the past 4.5 years that I wish I could have told myself just to breathe and let it roll off my shoulders. Starting a business is tough, there are a lot of decisions to be made, and there is a “newness” element associated with everything. I’ve found that if you can relax, all is better!


Ready to join the Tippi Toes® family? Check out the Franchise Owners page and learn more on how to get started in owning your own business. We’ll be with you every step of the way!