Kelly Terranova, Anneli Dance
Kelly applied for £4,000 from GDLF in early 2009, to buy a van for her fledgling business, and drew down the loan in April. “Having been involved in dance since my early teens, and after finishing a theatre studies degree in 2006, my long-term aim was to work in the creative arts in some shape or form,” she explains.
“I spent some time after University working in short-term jobs in offices and shops to start earning some money, but it was very frustrating seeing all those years of study going to waste.“It was while living with my parents in Woodmancote near Cheltenham that I began thinking there must a need for affordable, fun dance classes for kids in the area. It was a way for me to start my own small business, work with fitness within the local community, and use my training at the same time.”
With minimal start-up costs, Kelly was able to test the waters for her business idea by leafleting local schools and offering her first class.
“I hired the local tithe barn as a venue and kept my fingers crossed that someone would turn up. I needn’t have worried! More than 50 three-year-olds made up the first group and I had to draft some of the parents in to help with such unexpected numbers.”
Over the last year, Kelly’s business has really taken off. Anneli Dance now puts on several choreographed shows a year in ever-bigger venues, raising money for both the business itself, to fund future shows, and for different charities.
She runs street dance and drama classes for both children and adults in a different town each night, and her ‘Mums with Good Bums’ class is especially popular as a sociable and enjoyable way to keep fit while learning a new skill.
It was when she decided to invest in a liveried van, to make herself more mobile around a wider area, that she hit a barrier.
“In the current climate the banks wouldn’t lend to me, even with my Dad acting as a guarantor. And I couldn’t believe that there was no Government grant system for people like me - a new graduate, already running a small business and intending to employ others in the future as well as making a start on repaying my student debts.
“The van was vital to my business for getting to other towns nearby, and many people have come along to my classes as a direct result of seeing the van around town with the website and some of my classes listed on the side.
“But all my enquiries about funding led to nothing, until finally someone at Business Link suggested I approach GDLF.”
With a combination of the loan and the business support from GDLF, Kelly was able to take her business to the next level, and she now has to split the classes with one of her equally-qualified friends, as there is more demand than she can meet on her own.
As for the future she’s not sure yet which way the business will go as it depends very much on what her pupils are looking for.
“It’s the mix of fitness, learning steps and working towards shows that keeps my classes popular. There’s a genuine feeling of fun in the room, and while everyone’s enjoying the process and I’m able to make a good living, there’s no rush to change anything yet."
“I’m just enjoying the business and making great use of my training, and the support from GDLF has been invaluable.”