International Womens Day - Celebrating Female Entrepreneur's In Dance
By Move Dance on 8th Mar 2023
Happy International Women's Day! This year at Move we’re shining a light on young female entrepreneurs in the dance industry. We’ve been chatting to the ultimate girl boss Isabel Wright-Buchan, Izzy has been performing on the stage for over 17 years and has recently opened a dance school WStudios - Performing Arts Company and her own gym wear brand What A Girl Wants! After graduating SLPCollege with a Level 6 Diploma in Performing Arts she decided to set up her on her own. We interviewed Izzy to find what it means to build a business as a woman in the dance world.
Have you always been entrepreneurial?
I graduated in performing arts just as we were going into lockdown. I’d always dreamed that leaving college would just naturally tie in with working on the stage, that I’d go from student performer to professional performer, but Covid decimated the performing arts industry overnight. Whilst I was faced with a temporary blocker, instead of sitting stuck I thought “if I can’t do that then what can I do?”.
I’ve always been very ambitious, and if there is something I want, I work hard to get there. As a student, I’d struggled to find luxury gym wear/dance wear at affordable prices, so that gave me an idea which pushed me to set up my gym wear brand – in some ways the timing was perfect as everyone seemed suddenly interested in exercise during lockdown! I often get photos/videos from my customers attending auditions or classes or going to the gym wearing @whatagirlwants.me. The brand has become very popular over the last few years, and it is something I am extremely proud of.
What inspired you the most to set up a dance school and gym wear brand?
Whilst at college I also unfortunately picked up quite a nasty knee Injury. I had to undergo complex surgery, physio and lots of rest. This drove me mad, as I just wanted to train and to dance, but I used the time well by looking for other routes in performing arts that I felt the same love for. I spent time in the costume and wardrobe department where I created costumes and ideas for show pieces and just generally kept things organised. I also spent some time working on running shows, where I helped with all the admin work such as tickets and promotion as well as running orders and side-stage quick changes during the actual performances. I learnt quickly that there is more to performing arts than just being on the stage. It was at this point where I started to appreciate the full industry and became open to taking different routes in my career path.
I have loved teaching from a very young age, and always thought that after a career on stage or screen, I would open my own performing arts school. That dream came true a lot sooner than I anticipated, partly nudged along by Covid but also by my knee injury, and after teaching for years at various other dance schools alongside my own training, I knew the time was right for me to take the leap. It was never about giving up or throwing the towel in on a performance career, it was about taking a new route and creating something pretty special.
I have created an amazing performing arts company, where my students enjoy their classes and have made new friends, growing in ability and confidence week by week. The opportunities and growth in my first year have been far beyond my wildest dreams, and this gives me the confidence and drive to continue to grow WStudios. With my own studio facilities, the opportunities are and will always be endless and I’ll keep setting myself new goals to make WStudios the best at training young people in something that I’m so passionate about and take so much enjoyment from, so that they learn and develop as people and maybe even one day feel inspired to work in performing arts too.
If any, what challenges have you faced or had to overcome whilst starting out as a young woman in business? For example, do you ever underestimated or feel you are treated differently?
As a young woman I think I have been doubted by many, but that only made me more determined. When I have a passion for something I don’t stop until I succeed. You’re always going to be faced with criticism, that’s a part of life. Take it in your stride and use it as your encouragement to do even better.
What is the most rewarding part of owning a dance school?
The biggest reward for me has been watching my students grow individually. As a teacher I prefer to have smaller intimate classes. This means I can get to know all of my students personally and help them to learn and grow in a fun environment. I adore it when I receive messages from my students’ parents telling me their kids have come home on top of the world, or they are really enjoying lessons. It’s even better when they send me updates of them practising at home. And being able to promote my very own facilities, where I have a studio, changing room and waiting area, I just love being there and that feeling of pride when I see what I’ve achieved.
What makes you feel most empowered?
My students. Every day they remind me why I made the decision to branch out and set my own school up. They have slowly become a second family to me and each other, and that is the best feeling in the world. The added bonus is being able to work doing something I really love and enjoy.
If you could give one piece of advice to a young female starting out in the dance industry what would it be?
If you want it, work for it. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
It's safe to say Izzy has achieved so much and we feel so empowered and inspired by her, we hope you have too!! Go and see for yourselves what Izzy’s been up to and give her Instagram a follow. @whatagirlwants.me and @wstudios.uk
Happy International Women's Day!!
Move Dance Team xx