I’m excited to share Gemma’s story of starting up her drama academy, I’ve seen it grow from strength to strength and loved getting to know how it all started and how she manages running it alongside her busy family life. Gemma is so passionate and it shines through every area of her business, I hope you find this feature as interesting and inspiring as I did.
Hello, my name is Gemma. I live in Lancashire with my daughters and Hubby. I have been in the theatre from a young age, qualified as a Drama and English teacher, had babies and decided that I wanted to be my own boss. I wanted to be there for my children and not have to miss assemblies, sports days etc.
Tell us a little bit about your business
Premier Drama Academy is a stage school which helps children to realise their potential, not only on a performance basis but also helps them boost their confidence through classes in various subjects such as Musical Theatre, Drama, Ballet, Jazz, Cheerleading and much more.
Once you had the idea how did you go about turning it into a reality?
I found it so important to speak to other businesses; some are really approachable and are more than happy to help. Other business owners have been through it all, they know what works, what doesn’t and where to turn or who to turn to. Their advice can be invaluable.
What’s been the hardest part of your life as a start up business so far and how do you overcome those kinds of hurdles?
I think the hardest thing for me is not feeling guilty when I give myself some time off. It is so important to look after yourself as well as run a successful business. Allow yourself some me time, timetable your day and stick to your breaks. Do not feel guilty for making yourself a brew and watching a cheeky episode of ‘Hawaii 50’ (my guilty pleasure)
I run on black coffee and chocolate biscuits when I’m working, what couldn’t you live without?
Peace!! I love my children to death but seriously, I like the quiet. When I’m in the zone and need to focus, I have to switch the telly off and just concentrate. Jasmine tea always helps too.
These days any business needs a strong social media presence, which is your favourite platform and do you have any tips for running it?
I’m going to let you into a secret; I’m not too great when it comes to social media. I use facebook and Instagram a lot and I get feedback and traffic through there, however my mission this year is to become more media social savvy.
What is the best part of running your own business? Has there been a ‘pinch yourself to check it’s real’ kind of moment for you?
Apart from being able to be there for my girls and hubby, I’d have to say that it is watching my pupils flourish and grow in confidence. There is nothing more amazing than watching a shy, introverted child blossom week after week and knowing that what they have learned in class has helped them get there and will help them throughout their lives.
I am so lucky that I get ‘pinch yourself moments’ quite regularly. Watching the children perform makes me emotional and makes me so grateful that I started my business. We are a big family and they all make me extremely proud.
Has being a parent influenced the way your business works?
Oh gosh, definitely. I treat my pupils how I would like my girls to be treated and the same goes with the parents. I question myself: would I, as a parent, be happy about this? Would my girls love this?
We are all a family and I think that has come from the fact that I understand family life, issues that arise and the everyday slog of driving your kids here, there and everywhere to every club, fad and whim they have decided on that week.
You’ve gone from being a ‘one girl band’ kind of business to taking on new team members. How has it been sharing your ‘business baby’ with someone else?
I am, and have always been, a little bit of a control freak. It is something that I am working on and employing new staff has been enlightening. Who knew that somebody could do the job as well as I would have wanted?
It is scary because this business is my baby but it’s so important to have an amazing team around you. I have come to realise that I can’t do all of this by myself and to make Premier Drama Academy the best it can be, I have to delegate and rely on my teachers who are also part of our family and are amazing at what they do. It’s been a big learning curve and one I am so glad that I have had to do in order to boost the business.
What’s your current favourite aspect of your business? Running a class? Overseeing the whole academy?
I love to teach obviously but I also like to go into classes that I don’t teach and see how far the pupils have come.
I can’t really say that I have a favourite part as I love it all but when I see the children performing all together, it makes me emotional and nothing can beat it. It makes me realise that, for me, Premier Drama Academy, was the right business to pour my heart and soul into.
Got any new classes or projects in the pipeline?
Well, we do have some fantastic classes; our newest being cheerleading. We also run a preschool ballet class now as well as our other classes in dance, including pop, ballet and tap, musical theatre and drama.
Whether practical or inspirational, what is your top piece advice for anyone out there wanting to take that leap and start their own business?
Do it. Yes it can be a scary prospect but isn’t it better to say that you have tried, rather than always thinking ‘what if?’
You have nothing to lose. Take baby steps and you’ll get there. If you have a passion for something and it makes you happy to go to work every day, then why not?
Life is too short to be unhappy. Go for it and enjoy what you do x
I hope you enjoyed reading Gemma’s story, if you have any questions feel free to ask below. You can find out more about Gemma’s drama academy here –
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Morgana is a social media coach for small businesses and entrepreneurs, specialising in Instagram and Pinterest. Based in the North West of the UK, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She particularly enjoys a Netflix binge watch and cannot function without black coffee and dark chocolate digestives.