Military Spouse Small Business: In Motion Company

In this week’s edition of “Military Spouse Small Business,” meet Mary Kate Corcoran! Stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington state, Mary Kate owns In Motion Company, a recreational dance studio. To learn more, read our Q&A below:

Name:  Mary Kate Corcoran

Hometown: Mercersburg, Pennsylvania

Branch of Military: USN, Supply Corps

Current Duty Station: Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI)

Tell us about your business.

In Motion Company is a recreational dance studio serving the communities of Whidbey Island, Washington, and beyond.  We are a welcoming, creative space for all members of the community.  We are proud to be the only Acrobatic Arts certified studio on the island, and we offer programs for toddlers through adults!

What made you choose this business?

I grew up dancing, and eventually instructing, in both recreational and competitive dance circuits and had dreams of making it a career.  When an injury got in the way, I changed my plans and went to college on an ROTC scholarship, where I got a Spanish degree and earned my commission in 2017.  After a whirlwind first five years in the Navy, including four duty stations, three forward deployments (two of them during COVID), and 32 months spent living abroad, I finally had the chance to take a shore tour and maintain an address for more than a year.  I had a strong urge to engage with the community since that was something I really struggled with losing when I moved abroad. 

Within days of moving to the area I was googling local dance studios and I found In Motion Company.  At the time it was a veteran owned business being run by an amazing family and in addition to the standard ballet, jazz, contemporary classes, the owner ran a bilingual Spanish-English movement program!  I reached out thinking that maybe my language credentials might be a foot-in-the-door, and met with the owner in early December 2021.  Our first meeting was wonderful and we totally connected, but she actually didn’t need any help at the studio.  She told me she would keep my information on file if she needed a substitute teacher, and maybe I could plan a weekend workshop event.  Well, a week later she needed a sub for several classes so she called me up, and just after Christmas one of her employees had to reduce her teaching hours and suddenly, I was teaching five classes a week!

What motivated you to start this business?

When I started teaching at the studio in January 2022, I never dreamed that I’d own it by June.  After working at the studio for a few months and developing a close friendship with the owner, I asked her if she’d be willing to share with me about her experiences as studio owner, since it had always been a dream of mine.  I was surprised by her reaction, because she quickly said she wanted to talk to me more, and soon.  I had no way of knowing, but at the exact time I started working for her, her husband was being offered a job out-of-state and they were trying to decide how to take an amazing opportunity for their family without closing the doors to a beloved community business.

A few days later she shared her family’s plans with me and offered to sell me the studio.  I said yes immediately.  I spent the next few months working with her every evening that I wasn’t teaching to learn more about the business aspect of the studio and get everything in place for the turnover.  We announced our plans to all of our students and their families at the June recital and it was magical.  I became the owner officially at the end of June, 2022.  I spent all summer offering dance camps to the students in the community and in August, the studio celebrated 11 years in business.  We’ve grown from 40 students in June to almost 60 and I am so incredibly thankful to the original owner, her family, and all of our clients at the studio for trusting me and giving me this opportunity!

How do you balance work life as a service member and business owner?

In short, I have no kids, no pets, and anything is easier than back-to-back COVID deployments on a forward deployed Aircraft Carrier! 

All jokes aside, it takes a lot of organization, a lot of energy, and I pretty much work 14-hour days during the week.  Luckily for me, I work daytime hours for the Navy and a dance studio doesn’t get busy evenings.  Sometimes I take leave if I have bigger projects I need to work on, but for the most part I just head to the studio right after I finish up on base, and most of my admin can be done from my phone in any pockets of downtime I may have.  I also could not do this without the support of my chain-of-command.  I’m very fortunate to have that and what’s really fun is that my OIC has a daughter who takes some of my classes!

Any advice for those who want to start a business and serve our country at the same time?

Be organized, be sure of yourself, and be ready to HUSTLE.  When I’m making plans for the studio, I always think of the two extremes – could I do this by myself without any help at all, and could this happen without me if operational commitments take me out of the area?  For the first scenario, that means not over committing on services offered.  On the other side of the spectrum, the needs of the Navy come first and even the most routine and predictable job comes with some level of uncertainty.  I always have a back-up plan for who I would call to step in in the event that I can’t be there for more than a couple of days.  There will be a day where owning a brick-and-mortar service business and being Active Duty are incompatible; we all go back to sea eventually.  I consider myself incredibly lucky to get to do both for now, but I’m planning my transition out of the Navy to hopefully run the studio as my only full-time job.

I also have always firmly advocated for the separation of LT Corcoran and Miss Mary Kate.  While not a secret that I’m Active Duty, I do not want my position in the Navy to impact someone’s choice to enroll at the studio.  It’s okay if that’s not how you choose to balance your roles as an active-duty business owner, but whatever you choose I think it’s important that your clients know what the expectation is.  Offering a dependable and consistent experience has a lot of value.

Favorite things about your current duty station or other places you’ve been stationed?

I moved here for the nature and boy did I get it!  The landscape is beautiful and I’m in awe every single day as I drive to work past world-famous tulip fields with snowcapped mountains on the horizon.  I live on the mainland so I get to go through Deception Pass to get on the Island every day and it’s an absolutely breathtaking junction of coast and forest.  There seems to be no shortage of community events, either!  Multiple nights a week this summer there have been free concerts available at various outdoor venues and I love going to the farmers market every weekend!

Where can people find you?

To learn more, visit, and follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

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