"Starting my own companies helped me take control over my time and my destiny. "
Lean In Dayton: What spurred you to strike it out on your own and create your own companies, Venus Child Productions, and Libby Images?
Libby Ballengee: For over a dozen years, my career had been centered in the demanding world of publishing, where your time is never really your own. Deadlines take precedent over social commitments and family, and that can get pretty frustrating after a while, especially when work weeks go well over what's expected of your salary. In a lot of ways, I was used and abused by the corporate world. Starting my own companies helped me take control over my time and my destiny. I'm grateful for all I learned in the corporate world, and it was certainly nice getting a steady paycheck during my foundational years, but working for myself was always my main dream. I chose to have an independent and free lifestyle over being a slave to a steady paycheck.
Lean In Dayton: You are also President of the Dayton Ballet Barre. How did this venture come about? The
Libby Ballengee: Dayton Ballet Barre went through a lot of changes when our longtime leader, Jim Butler, got elected to Ohio’s House of Representatives. We also went through a bit of an identity crisis when the Dayton Ballet, Opera, and Philharmonic all merged. We needed someone to step up and lead the group. I had been a patron of the Ballet for over 30 years, active in the Barre for a few years, and was at a place in my life when I could take on the leadership responsibility. The Dayton Ballet has been close to my heart since I was a child, so it’s been a great honor to help support them through the Dayton Ballet Barre.
Lean In Dayton: You are leading multiple creative initiatives. When did you first learn that you had a knack for creative development?
Libby Ballengee: At a very young age actually, I was not athletic at all. I was the last kid picked in gym class, that’s for sure. However, when I was at art, dance or music classes, I was in my element. It all made sense to me like sports made sense to other kids. My older sister was a Fine Arts major in college, so that helped me feel “safe” to pursue a creative career, knowing other people in my life did it and succeeded.
Interviewed by Julene Allen