Interested in starting your own journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Marcia Treidler, President & Artistic Director of ABADA Capoeira San Francisco, located in San Francisco, CA, USA.

What's your organization, and who are your members?

ABADÁ-Capoeira San Francisco (ACSF) is a non-profit cultural arts organization with a mission to preserve, develop, and share the art of Capoeira with integrity. Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art created by enslaved Africans in Brazil in response to oppression and used to fight for freedom. Capoeira combines self-defense, dance, ritual, acrobatics, and music in a rhythmic dialogue of body, mind, and spirit. It's internationally practiced and protected under UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list. This past November marked our 30th year as the only women-led non-profit that uses Capoeira arts to unite, uplift, and enrich diverse populations. Our work improves the cultural vitality of the Bay Area and enlivens the Mission neighborhood, fostering health and cultural connectedness through classes, outdoor festivals, ticketed performances, school-based arts education, artist-exchange residencies, and emerging artists' apprenticeships and jobs. Our programs reach a diverse, intergenerational community of youth and adults from throughout the Bay Area.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Márcia Treidler “Mestra Cigarra”. I am entering my 40th year as a Capoeira artist and my 30th year as the founding artistic director of ABADÁ-Capoeira San Francisco. I've dedicated my life to Capoeira and to ensuring the integrity of the art is maintained during its worldwide development. In 1991 at age 25, I moved to San Francisco and founded ABADÁ-Capoeira San Francisco. Under my artistic direction, ACSF has transformed from a grassroots Capoeira "group" into a cornerstone for art and culture and a model organization for Capoeira communities worldwide.

What keeps me motivated is the dedication of my students and the consistent growth of our organization. Witnessing the continued involvement of participants over multiple generations– as students, parents of youth students, donors, and even professional artists who now work with ACSF– inspires me to stay motivated and to keep developing our work.

What's your biggest accomplishment as an organization?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is to have succeeded against the odds. As a female, immigrant, and low-income woman of color, the cards were not stacked in my favor for success. But, with constant hard work and dedication, we have built a vibrant and successful cultural arts center that reaches thousands of people every year. ACSF has survived and thrived for over 30 years, even through the pandemic. I am proud to have developed a thriving apprenticeship program that produces qualified artists who are carrying on the work of ACSF, and the Capoeira tradition, throughout the Bay Area and beyond.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being an organization?

The hardest part of being a business owner is that the job is a 24/7 commitment, and it is difficult, even with a competent staff and artists, to be absent for any real length of time. Primarily this is because, administratively, it takes a lot to run our non-profit, so there are constant day-to-day tasks that are essential to operating and being open to the community seven days a week.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow an organization today?

Three core tips I can share are:

  1. Have a partner who shares in your vision that you can trust and that balances your skills.
  2. Be solid in your purpose and vision, but be prepared to adapt your plans to what is actually needed. Listen to your customer and client's needs.
  3. Build your business around something you truly love and would do even if it was not a job. Running a business or non-profit is a lot of work. It will require you to be patient, take risks, and expand your skill level beyond what you ever imagined. Running a business will ask a lot of you, so if you love the work and the purpose, that makes all the difference.

Where can people find you and your group?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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