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Meet Danielle Stead

Today we’d like to introduce you to Danielle Stead.

Danielle, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’m an LA native, born and raised in Encino. Yes, a valley girl. Growing up, I was your typical type-A kid: perfect grades, loads of extracurriculars, excelled at sports. I attended college at UC Santa Barbara, where I swam + played water polo, and was Vice President of my sorority. I thought I wanted to go into PR, but after a summer as an intern at a high-end fashion company here in LA, I knew that I wasn’t meant for a career in either fashion or PR.

After graduating college into the height of the 2008 recession, I accepted a job the assistant to the CEO of a tech startup. After learning that the being an assistant meant I was destined to get his coffee and lunch for the foreseeable future, I decided to apply to law school. I began my 1L at Loyola Law School Los Angeles that fall.

Law school was so difficult for me – the workload, the pressure of professors ‘cold-calling’, the competition. I developed severe anxiety and suffered from debilitating panic attacks, which affected my grades, and I almost dropped out. I stuck out the next two years of law school, but I knew that I didn’t want to practice law when I graduated. I passed the bar knowing I wanted to find a different career eventually, but having invested the last three years of my life into law, I was determined to make it work as an attorney somehow.

My first few law jobs were the type I look back on as paying my dues. I was eventually hired by a big firm, just like the ones you see on tv. Except tv glamorizes the job and fails to tell you about the endless hours, unrealistic billing expectations, unhealthy habits and overall misery you’re up against.

In the midst of this, I met a wonderful man, my now husband, who encouraged me to find what makes me happy and pursue it. With his support, I left my firm job, and in the most ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ move, we went to Italy that summer and explored, ate, drank and were just happy.

After coming back to LA, I hit the job search hard, but the thought of going back to the law brought all my anxiety and unhappiness back. I spent tons of time at my local Equinox, taking classes, getting back into my healthy habits, and rediscovering my old athlete self. With the encouragement of my favorite spin instructor, I got certified through Equinox to be a spin instructor. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would actually teach spin or any fitness, but I thought it would be a fun skill.

Fast forward a few months, I was asked by a local company to teach their boot camp classes. I was skeptical, but after my first class, I was hooked. I don’t know how else to explain the feeling except that it felt like the weight of the world had been lifted. This is where I was supposed to be. For so many years I was working jobs that I hated, where I verbally abused, demeaned, over-worked, and finally, I was able to do something I loved, and people appreciated me.

I quickly found other teaching gigs throughout LA, though I still held on tightly to the title being an attorney. I told people that I was an attorney who also taught fitness. Because being an attorney was impressive, and teaching fitness (to me) wasn’t.

To make up for what I thought was my shortcoming of just teaching, I offered the studios discounted business and legal advice. And believe me, when I say, they needed it. Most fitness professionals are amazing trainers who want to share their methods but lack the business acumen to be truly successful. And that’s where I would fit myself into this world.

In 2017, I launched my own consulting company focusing on the legal and business needs of fitness professionals, creative entrepreneurs, influencers, bloggers, and small businesses. I see a huge need in these industries for professionalism, higher standards in operations and better quality of the product. What started off as someone’s hobby could now be paying their bills. It’s time they treat it with such seriousness.

One of my firm beliefs is that legal + consulting services should be affordable and accessible. I charge lower rates because I know that running a business or brand is expensive enough. I want every fitness + creative business to have the necessary contracts, agreements, and operational documents.

I know that business owners have the passion to improve these things, but need the extra boost from someone with a legal, business and fitness background. So that’s where I come in.

Has it been a smooth road?
Has it been a smooth road? No, and I just laughed out loud reading this question thinking about how unsmooth it has been. It’s been quite a ride.

The same, repeated offenses:
1. People undervalue the service and overestimate themselves. Most business owners are equally as type-A as myself and insist that they can do everything themselves, that they can download forms on the internet, or that help would be great, but they can’t afford it right now.

These are almost always the same businesses with unhappy employees, disorganized operations, low profits, or bad product. They politely decline my help and invite me to take a class, read their blog, or come to some event they are co-hosting. Their problems will persist as long as they let their ego dictate their business habits.

2. I’ve been laughed out of the room for being a woman – really. I’m not a strong as a man. I don’t think like a man. Because I’m a woman, men won’t relate to me or want to be coached by me. Or my favorite, because I’m a woman I just don’t understand business. It’s 2019 folks. It’s time to stop being intimidated by a smart, capable female.

3. A lot of self-employed creatives love to invite you to “grab coffee” which is code for “Let’s get coffee and I’m going to try to pick your brain for legal and business advice but not offer to pay you, or even acknowledge that what you do has value and I should be paying for your time right now. Or at least your coffee.”

We’d love to hear more about your business.
My company, Danielle Stead Blanton, focuses on the legal and business needs of fitness professionals, creative entrepreneurs, influencers, bloggers, and small businesses. I will draft legal + operational documents for one brand, review partnership agreements for a blogger, and coach + forecast a business plan for another.

I am also available for on-demand legal and business advice via phone, which is a rarity in this industry. And if I can’t provide you with the exact service you need, I work with the best attorneys, social media managers, marketing professionals, photographers, graphic designers and creatives in this town.

I see a huge need in these industries for professionalism, higher standards in operations and better quality of the product. What started off as someone’s hobby could now be making paying their bills. It’s time they treat it with such seriousness.

One of my firm beliefs is that legal + consulting services should be affordable and accessible. I charge lower rates because I know that running a business or brand is expensive enough. I want every fitness + creative business to have the necessary contracts, agreements, operational documents and access to advice.

I know that business owners have the passion to improve these things, but need the extra boost from someone with a legal, business and fitness background. I am most proud of this – my belief that giving, educating and supporting others in my community will give back to me and business in the long run.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
LA is my home, and that is a love like no other. My life’s memories are scattered across the city, putting together this beautiful collage.

From driving Ventura Blvd. across the valley with my high school friends, to nights out in Hollywood in my 20’s, attending law school and working in downtown, marathon training in Griffith Park, beach days in Malibu, and living my dream life in our bubble in West Hollywood. So many different pockets, but all held together under the eternal sunshine and hustle.

What I like least – people who move to LA and bash it. I get it, LA doesn’t have seasons. Traffic sucks. People can be so fake/extra/self-centered. LA doesn’t have arts the way New York, LA is not New York. The list is long and endless.

As a native, you are bashing a piece of me, and kindly get out. We don’t want you. Traffic will be better if all you complainers leave.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Headshot: Lani Ohye
Studio shots: Alyssa Zakaria
Seated: Teresita Lozano

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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