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Melanie Randall: Inspiring Others to Live and Dance Strong

Founder of Live and Dance Strong, and Owner of Dancewear House, Melanie Randall.

Everyone has their own ways of dealing with a loss, and this week’s Monday Maine Maven, Melanie Randall, decided to take one of the most difficult times in her life, and turn it into something beautiful as a way to process her grief.

Five years ago, Melanie’s father, Richard J. Randall, passed away and she set out to start an event that would help in her healing process. The result was Live and Dance Strong, a fundraiser that serves as a wonderful opportunity for choreographers and dancers alike to come together and deliver a unique dance experience.

Randall says, “Each year the show is different, and we have begun to touch on other people’s pain and grieving process. Cancer has affected so many people. I never dreamed that by starting Live and Dance Strong I would bring hope and empowerment to so many other young women who have lost someone—it’s been very special.”

This year, the event brought their total donations to the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care to more than $30,000 since its inception and for the first time, they paid a special tribute to cancer survivors.

Planning for Live and Dance Strong starts in early winter, and around March Melanie begins to send letters to local businesses, requesting sponsorships and donations for the show. In May, she sends out choreographer applications to studios in the area.

They recently added a concert element to the planning process, by hosting a concert at their home on the lake in an effort to raise awareness and funding within the community. Melanie adds that social media has also made the event easier to put together, saying, “Facebook has made it easy for us to have an online presence, enabling us to connect with choreographers and sponsors we may not have met any other way.”

Even after growing up dancing for Keltie Collins, Andrei Bossov and Genie O’Brien, she never imagined that she would have a career in dance. It wasn’t until she was getting ready to graduate with a degree in English that she considered buying Dancewear House in Hallowell, but after six and a half years, it was clearly the right choice. She says, “I wasn’t really sure that an English degree would prepare me for running a business, but my years in college certainly did.”

Melanie (center) with her Mom, Mary Elizabeth Randall (left), and her fiancé, Scott Lowery (right) following this year’s Live and Dance Strong event.

Most days, you will find Melanie helping young girls find their way on a similar career path. She says, “I spend most of my days with dancers’ feet in my face,” as the primary person that handles Pointe shoe fittings.

So what is her secret to happiness and success?

Randall says, “Follow your dreams—find something in life that you’re passionate about, and keep it close to you, especially when life gets hard. We all have the ability to take a negative situation and make it into a positive one, so don’t ever give up! One person has all of the potential in the world to touch someone’s life and change their own.”

To learn how you can get involved with Live and Dance Strong, please visit, liveanddancestrong.org, or like the Dancewear House on Facebook.

Big Solutions for Every Business in Maine

President of CORE Solutions, Heather Veilleux.

What do New York, Maine and Ohio have in common? President of CORE Solutions and this week’s Maine Maven, Heather Veilleux, has called all of them home. While she has enjoyed each of them, Heather says, “The truth is, my plan was to move back to Maine all along.”

Veilleux adds that although it was hard to make the decision to move back to Augusta from New York City,  it was also a very exciting opportunity. She says, “Maine has more space to grow and more ways to be unique.”

Maine also has, by far, a much slower and steadier pace. While living in New York, Heather was working three jobs as a real estate agent at Bold New York by day, and a waitress at LongHorn Steakhouse in New Jersey and Marseille in New York City by night, and the occasional weekend gig through Total Entertainment! Not to mention that she was also juggling classes at Berkeley College and remotely creating her own start-up business. How did she do it? Veilleux says, “I realized that I simply didn’t have the time to go to class, so I began taking online classes. Ultimately, this allowed me to start and run a business that would eventually be located in Maine.”

Heather on a trip to Africa last year with the Flying Kites Global. Former Maine Maven, Ashley Underwood was also on this trip.

We hate to get political, but it’s hard to ignore that Heather’s life became consumed with politics shortly after she moved back to Maine last fall. Her fiancé (then boyfriend), Matthew Pouliot, announced that he would be running for office. “Little did I know what a great ride we were in for,” she says, and it would become a great inspiration for her re-evaluation of her business, Heels to Healing.

Through designing and planning advertisements and social media outreach during the campaign, Veilleux realized that there was an opportunity to help small businesses in the area using the same tactics. Heels to Healing was originally created to raise money through events for other nonprofits, but she realized that this model was making her business into a small United Way.

“I felt that rebranding and creating a for-profit business with a strong social mission was a better way to run a business and help my community,” says Veilleux about the change. With a new outlook and the creation of CORE Solutions, her goal is to help other businesses and organizations by offering services that they may not be able to have without hiring a full-time employee and/or hiring multiple companies. CORE Solutions offers high value for a low cost in assisting with event planning, fundraising, marketing and more.

CORE Solutions is an Augusta-based company offering quality business solutions that are designed to fit every budget.

CORE Solution’s signature event is the semi-annual Maine’s Fashion Night Out (MFNO). Originally created as a starting point for Heels to Healing, the event incorporates all of Heather’s favorite things: fashion, music, dance and central Maine! That’s right, it’s located right here in Augusta. Veilleux says, “I feel that central Maine is deprived when it comes to big events, especially in fashion. I live in Augusta and grew up in Hallowell, and I want to be a part of its growth.”

The mission of MFNO is to bring together the community, to promote local business and nonprofit organizations, and to network. They are currently looking for sponsors and volunteers—check out out www.MainesFNO.com for more information on how you can get involved and/or purchase your ticket for their upcoming event at the Armory.

To contact Heather, you may follow her on Twitter @coremaine, like her page on Facebook www.facebook.com/coremaine, or email her heather@coremaine.com.