Professional dancer builds local studios to help others dance

Jesse DeSoto of Hawthorn Woods left behind "Dancing With the Stars" and a life in Hollywood and instead built local studios to help others dance.

Jesse and his brother, Aaron DeSoto of Mundelein, recently opened a new Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Long Grove that features 25-foot cathedral ceilings, chandeliers, a full bar and a kitchen. And because of his construction background, Jesse even helped install the flooring.

"Our business is more of a destination, something you think about and come to do later," said Jesse, 38. "It's not the type of thing that someone would do spontaneously."

DeSoto recently opened the 4,100-square-foot facility with plans to add a restaurant and some retail shops, possibly by late next year. He also is an owner of another studio in Park Ridge. Fred Astaire Dance Studios has 179 dance facilities internationally, but many are individually owned.

The site of the Long Grove studio originally had five buildings, including a barn formerly used as a storage facility for the Red Oaks Furniture Co. Jesse decided to tear down the original building, which was vacant since 2012, and built a new structure. It also offers space for rent for special events on the weekends, he said.

"We wanted something that had space for the community," he said.

Born and raised in Greendale, near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Jesse decided against going to college and worked briefly in construction and at a carpet-and-tile company. He then applied for a job at a local dance studio in 1999 and stayed with the profession. He became dance partners with Jackie Josephs, now of Gilberts, and they won several dance competitions. Her parents owned the Fred Astaire Studio in Wisconsin where he worked until 2005, when they expanded to Buffalo Grove. Jesse then became a part-owner of the Buffalo Grove studio and moved to the area. The Buffalo Grove studio recently closed.

In 2006, Jesse signed a four-season contract with "Dancing with the Stars," after producers saw him in a video. He danced with actress Shanna Moakler during the third season. But that was his only season. He decided to return to Wisconsin to take care of his ailing father, who later died.

Now, he's been enjoying a career as a dance studio owner, helping other people learn to dance.

"I never wanted to pursue the Hollywood thing," he said.

Customize your pet's leash

Cheryl Arts of St. Charles and her best friend, Carla Schultz, are co-founders of Concha Charm, an eBusiness that sells customizable collars and leashes for pets. The concept is similar to a Pandora bracelet, except that it is for pets, Arts said. Customers buy the leather collars or leashes and then customize them with various charms designed by the owners. They charms snap into the collar or leash. "I am biased, of course, but it is really a fun way for the pet owner to dress up their pet and choose the charms that represent their style, likes, hobbies and things that are important to them," Arts said.

Lisle author on corporate America

Michael Hahn of Lisle has taken the concept of how people can be either the heroes or villains in their own lives, which he covers in his new book, "Hero Habits: The Guide to Thriving in Corporate America + In Life," which was launched at TopGolf in Naperville.


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•Crystal Lake resident Jim McKinney is chief operating officer of Autism Therapy Center By Your Side, which is opening its third center in Morton Grove in August. Other locations include Burr Ridge, Schaumburg and Morton Grove. There is also in-home therapy services available in Indianapolis and DeKalb. Since 2009, By Your Side has helped hundreds of families and children with autism.

•Colleen Hurley joined Lavelle Law's Family Law practice group in Schaumburg. The Geneva native now lives in Chicago.

•Kevin Reddington, a financial adviser with Northwestern Mutual - Chicago in Oak Brook, was appointed a college unit captain. A native of Elk Grove Village, he now lives in Chicago.

•David and Rebecca Allen, husband-and-wife owners of Firehouse Subs in Addison, held a ribbon cutting and grand opening on Sunday.

•There's more to business than just the bottom line. We want to tell you about the people who make business work. Send news about people in business to Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.

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Aaron DeSoto, from left, with his wife Irina DeSoto, and Ria DeSoto and Jesse DeSoto stand in front of their Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Long Grove. COURTESY OF DESOTO FAMILY
The new Fred Astaire Dance Studio opened this month in Long Grove. COURTESY OF DESOTO FAMILY
Carla Schultz, at left, and Cheryl Arts are co-founders of Concha Charm, a customizeable collar and leash eBusiness. COURTESY OF CONCHA CHARM
Michael Hahn
Jim McKinney
Colleen Hurley
Kevin Reddington
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