Q&A with Elena Collins, Managing Director
MyCharleston offers a range of dance products, which allows anyone to connect with The Charleston Dance. From dance classes, events, performances, videos and private bookings; our experiences will lift your mood, help you get fit and improve coordination whilst helping you make new friends in your local community. Whether you attend a class or come to one of our events, each experience is aimed at bringing you happiness - because we believe dance is a joyful experience which can be shared by all.
Tell us about your journey into entrepreneurship?
Fiona and I started working together when we made a short dance film about Brighton. We wanted to showcase our city with people dancing The Charleston in front of iconic locations. After the release of the film it went viral and our dance classes became oversubscribed. From that moment we discovered a gap in the market: People wanted to learn The Charleston. Suddenly we started to get approached to teach, perform at events and make films.
MyCharleston started as a passion project which then grew into a lifestyle business. Our biggest obstacle from there was changing our mindset - it was hard to think we could take the business a step further. When we were accepted onto the NatWest Accelerator our mentors helped us unravel this block. They challenged our assumptions and pushed us to see we had a business model that could grow. We learnt from shifting our mindset that we could change the company from a hobby into our careers.
In five years time what impact will your business have on the world?
MyCharleston provides a service that enriches people, improves health and fosters community. Our experiences make people happier through dance and over the next five years we will continue to grow and create more positive impacts on people’s lives.
What’s your #1 tip for fellow entrepreneurs?
Fiona and I built the company together. Working as a partnership has both its challenges and rewards. My tip if you work with someone is to recognise your partnership as an asset. We have taken time to refine how we work, communicate and nurture our relationship which has been key to growing a healthy and happy business.
How has the NatWest Accelerator programme helped to accelerate you and your business?
In August 2017, we were accepted on to the NatWest Accelerator programme where we began a growth plan. It included expanding our classes, our events programme and merchandise. In six months we have grown our weekly courses from three to eleven, launched in five new cities and trained four teachers. Our monthly turnover has tripled; allowing us to quit our jobs and focus on MyCharleston full time.
What are you most excited about right now?
We are really excited about our expansion. Our ambition for 2019 is to train ten new teachers and to develop into a franchise. We are also really looking forward to the summer season too as we are going to be teaching and performing at many vintage events across Sussex as well as our own 1920s Afternoon Tea events at the Hilton Brighton Metropole in June and September.