Posted: February 19, 2012
GENxyz: Colorado’s Top 25 Young Professionals for 2011
The best and the brightest under 39By Mike Taylor
They're young, they're tech-savvy and they're undaunted by the lingering economic downturn that has now persisted almost half of some of their professional careers. They're also givers, involved in their communities. But most of all, they're doers.
This is the 2011 edition of "Gen XYZ," our second annual look at 25 professionals under 39 we judged to be the most influential in Colorado by virtue of their accomplishments, their unusual drive and the impact they've had on their communities, whether by giving their time, donating their professional expertise, or inspiring others to do the same.
As the judges of the entries that flowed in, we had a tough time whittling the many thoughtful submissions of these standout young professionals down to 25 - and an even tougher time selecting a top five (read about one of them below), which we profile in more detail along with the 20 additional honorees. ColoradoBiz was assisted in the Gen XYZ nomination process by the Colorado Springs Young Professionals, which solicited entries from its more than 1,700 members, including chapters in Denver and Pueblo.
ColoradoBiz recognized these 25 individuals and their companies at a special Gen XYZ celebration on Sept. 29. (Read about the other finalists.)
Carrie Rezabek Dorr, 37
It would be hard to come up with a better example of someone turning a passion into a livelihood than Carrie Rezabek Dorr, a former professional dancer and law-school grad who has built Pure Barre, a dance-oriented fitness concept, into a national brand with 70 franchises and counting.
Originally from Detroit, Rezabek Dorr danced professionally while attending Michigan State University, where she earned a 4.0 majoring in business law, and at Wayne State, where she earned her law degree. She also danced professionally in New York.
"I practiced law for two years, but honestly it was just to pay off my law school loans," Rezabek Dorr says. "Dancing was and still is my passion in life."
She launched her first dancing-oriented fitness facility in 2001 at the age of 26 in the basement of a building in Birmingham, Mich., then headed to Southern California, where she opened Pure Barre studios in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. (The French term "barre" refers to the ballet bar that dancers use in training.)
With about 15 studios established in California, Rezabek Dorr turned to franchising and moved to Colorado, launching the first studio in Cherry Creek.
"I just packed up my stuff and drove from L.A. to Denver," she says. "Honestly, I wasn't sure I would stay here. I had never really spent any time in Colorado. But I ended up meeting my husband two weeks after moving here and never left the state."
She and Frank Dorr were married in May. He is Pure Barre's CFO.
To date, Rezabek Dorr has eight Pure Barre studios in the state and about 70 nationwide. After spending the past year in Vail getting the concept up and running - and preparing to launch a studio in Aspen - Rezabek Dorr is setting up Pure Barre's headquarters, including a training center for franchisees, in Denver's Highland neighborhood.
Many Pure Barre studios are run by former professional dancers like Rezabek Dorr, or by former collegiate cheerleaders. She appreciates that business gives them not only a livelihood but an outlet for their dancing passion.
"At a certain age you really can't or you shouldn't be doing that anymore," Rezabek Dorr says with a laugh. "But people still have the passion for it, they still have a space in their life for it. Pure Barre is a great thing for them because they can make a living off of that passion. That's a really rare thing."
Pure Barre is more than a workout facility. Rezabek Dorr has developed DVDs, apparel and plans to introduce a line of nutritional and skin-care products. The DVDs, in addition to being a significant revenue stream, help establish the Pure Barre brand in markets before a studio is launched in the area.
"My goal is to really develop Pure Barre into a lifestyle brand, not just as a workout," she says.
A big part of that brand is giving back. Pure Barre franchisees are required to partner with a local charity. In addition, twice a year the company holds a "Pure Barre Day," in which classes are taught for donations only, and the money raised goes to a local charity. For Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Pure Barre studios are selling pink tanktops, with proceeds going to cancer-related causes.
"I just think it's a huge part of the company culture we're trying to create," Rezabek Dorr says. "We're very fortunate to have a successful company, and a lot of our franchisees are very gifted, wonderful people, and their ability to give back and impact their community is really important."
(Read about the other finalists.)
Mike Taylor is the managing editor of ColoradoBiz. He writes about small-business money issues and how startups are launched. E-mail him at email@example.com.