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Meet Ricky Royal of the ROYAL | UNDERGROUND in Montebello

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ricky Royal.

Ricky, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
GETTING FIRED in 2014 was the start of my journey to becoming a business owner. It was April of 2014 when I was emailed from my current employer at the time, that my services were no longer needed. I had spent about five years dedicated to teaching and building a brand for someone else. Although at the time I was completely shocked and genuinely had no desire to create my own business, it was the catapult I needed. I had always focused on teaching, choreographing and being an artist.

Being an artist had lead me to move to NYC… still dancing professionally and choreographing but the fashion industry quickly filled my life with endless amounts of joy. Eventually, it had become a very selfish life, to the point where I just needed to do something that was focused on giving back to others. Don’t get me wrong, I love fashion, the industry and everything it stands for, but at that time for me, it had ran its course.

I had moved back to California and regained my passion for dance, creating and educating. After receiving the email of termination I knew I needed to move quickly. I had a small following but never solicited any students. I simply kept to myself and created the HAUS of ROYALS which was located in the city of chino hills. Those that had asked what I was doing, where I was going, were given the same information anyone could attain.

I had started this small business with partners and we had big goals. Although we had success within our brand, our talent and our awards… it wasn’t a financial success. During the course of three years of building what I thought would be a dance empire, I had built relationships with two studios. One in Moreno Valley and one in Montebello.

I had worked for a year in Moreno Valley under the impression that I was to take over the studio, as the owner was not interested and couldn’t handle the day to day tasks. I had shared Ideas, explained the process in building a brand and a trained students to fit into what was supposed to be our 2nd location. Well, she had changed her mind and felt she could do it herself after a year of investing my time, energy and ideas.

At the same time, I had a friend reach out to me and ask if I would come in and help train her students. Although it wasn’t her business directly I knew she had the best intentions for the group of kids she had developed and been with for years.

Season three of my first business had fizzled out and the co-owners had decided to step away midseason in January. There were no hard feelings, it just wasn’t in their future. I knew from day one of starting the business that this was what I was going to do, it’s what I was meant to do and it was what I HAD TO DO.

By the end of June 2018, I had noticed some friction between the business owners in Montebello, which eventually lead to the uncovering of major financial misleadings. Knowing this information I had offered to help and take over the struggling business… but that was not in the owner’s plans. Things had seemed to be getting progressively worse to the point of my friend being fired.

It made absolutely no sense, considering she was their main teacher. I myself had become a vital part of their education and growth and together we were on a fast track to success. My friend who had brought me in to help her was let go and we had plans on Friday to go to lunch and just catch up, well my phone call of termination came at that lunch. “Your services are no longer needed”. It was Friday, midday but by Saturday we had a business plan.

I say all this with the intention of showing that we never know the real journey… we are truly lead to where we are supposed to be. We can have HUGE goals of owning three studios, taking over businesses that are failing, but the journey must always be shown to you.

Together Joanna Galis and myself had created the ROYAL | UNDERGROUND. We started small with 14 dedicated students on a mission for better. We rented a facility until the last week of December and just like the amazing journey we had embarked upon, we called about an available location on Wednesday, filled out the application on Thursday and were in our own space on Friday just before the New Year.

We kept pushing for better not only for ourselves but for our students. Fast forward through hard work, expanding ourselves artistically and professionally, this small 11-month-old business had brought home some major accomplishments. In July to round out our first season as a Company and Team, We won two Victory Cups, had an Undefeated Regional and National Title Holder Maya Tapio and an Undefeated Trio with Kalani Reyna, Lily Barajas and Maya Tapia.

You must always fight for more, fight for better, stay humble and stay kind… but most importantly focused and driven.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
When we had started our business the ROYAL | UNDERGROUND it was during the time the government was shut down. Which made the process of getting our business off the floor and major struggle. It taught us to keep going and push through even when you’ve made the same phone call 12 times and have requested the same files over and over. If you want it you have to go get it.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about the ROYAL | UNDERGROUND – what should we know?

We are focused on Pre Professional and Professional Dance Education, Artistic Development and College Acceptance preparation. We are home to National / Regional Title Competitive Dancers, Award-Winning Choreographers and Outstanding Award Winning Technical Educators.

We are known for our distinctive style both on stage and off. We have students attending Rutgers University, Juilliard, Mt. SAC, Cal State Fullerton, and Cornish College of the Arts and Cal Arts.

We specialize in the growth and development of our future. Although most people see our show stoping routines and the Giant trophies in our studio… they see us “winning”, I am most proud that our kids have a place they feel comfortable, guides/mentors to talk to… the most rewarding experience this past season happened in July during our last rehearsals. I had asked, “what was the best part of the season?” To have a teen tell you they feel confident and see their own personal growth was THE BEST part of the year. We are setting up children for success to believe not only in each other but to believe in themselves.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Joanna Galis… She has been the foundation of this business, my best friend, my number one cheerleader, and someone to hold me accountable. Without her, our business would not function.

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