How we became entrepreneurs by accident

MyCharleston was an idea that came about after performing together at a 1920s show in Brighton. From that moment, we fell in love with Charleston dancing and decided to collaborate to make a video showcasing the dance talents of our home city, Brighton and Hove.      

To get film participants we began running Charleston dance classes in January 2014. This was a nine-month passion project squeezed in between Elena’s full-time job and Fiona going through IVF treatment. However, it paid off. The film was a huge success and within two weeks was featured by the Evening Standard and received 40,000 views. As the video went viral the demand for the classes grew and each new course sold out. At that moment we realised we had stumbled across a gap in the market - nobody in the local area was running Charleston classes and there was a huge demand for it.

Pooling together our dance backgrounds and individual skills our hobby turned into a lifestyle business. After three years of running the company in-between Elena’s full-time job as a Marketing Manager for an events company, Fiona giving birth and two house purchases, we joined the NatWest Accelerator in 2017 to gain the skills needed to scale the company. Over the past year, Elena has quit her job, and this has allowed the business to undergo a complete transformation. We are no longer restricted to working on the business in the evenings or weekends. Within six months, the company rebranded, launched in five cities, four teachers have been trained and the business became sustainable. Our goal is to franchise the brand and empower other women to run their own businesses.

 Elena and Fiona at Firle Vintage Fair.

Elena and Fiona at Firle Vintage Fair.

The business was born from our passion to dance and perform but also, we also wanted to create something which gave us a sense of fulfilment and a connection to people in the community. MyCharleston fulfils us by enabling us to teach adults new skills, help improve people’s mental and physical fitness along with providing exciting and fun social occasions to transport people back to the 1920s. Ultimately, we make people happy which is incredibly rewarding. 

As individuals we also have our own personal goals. Elena started collaborating with Fiona when we she 26. Although at the time she had a good career in marketing, she was influenced by successful female business owners and always wanted her work to be a true reflection of herself. The business drives her to be the best version of herself. She has proven she has great business skills by turning an idea into a great service which has had meaningful impact on the community. Elena has danced since the age of three and turning her lifelong passion into her work is a dream come true.

Fiona's passion for dance motivates her to create the best possible dance experience for all our customers, ensuring every product is inspiring. She is driven to deliver excellent customer service wanting each student to experience the many benefits of dance. Together, we want to grow the company because we believe dance is a joyful experience which can be shared by all.

 Elena and Fiona in the studio   

Elena and Fiona in the studio

 

 Elena and Fiona performing with Savoy Kicks

Elena and Fiona performing with Savoy Kicks