In what is unquestionably the era of the young entrepreneur, 27 year old Jessica Elliott is one of the UK’s most visible young pioneers to have laughed in the face of rising unemployment figures and university debt to take control of her own financial future and become her own boss.
Aged just 20, in 2008 Jessica founded J’s Dance Factory with £200 and a dream. Months later Dancing after School classes followed and today provide dance classes in more than 24 schools across London in four Boroughs. More than 1000 J’s Dance Factory children aged 3-17, access classes on a weekly basis and perform at community based events while completing examinations, and the school has a growing talent agency and is being rolled out across the UK as a franchise.
Ask Jessica where her burning ambition stems from and she says; “seeing the children so happy in classes and growing in confidence makes me want to create more opportunities for children all over the world to access quality affordable dance sessions“
Her dedicated work ethic and desire to make a social contribution, have lead to a mantel full of awards ranging from the Natwest Everywoman award in 2010, to the Spirit of London Community Business Entrepreneur the same year. With many of J’s Dance Factory students from under priveliged backgrounds or families who could not afford traditional performing arts school fees, Jessica’s social impact is unquestionable. Last year His Royal Highness Prince Andrew visited the J’s Dance Factory office (which she won rent free after winning the London Metropolitan University Business plan competition in 2009) to discuss the importance of support for young entrepreneurs in the UK, and commend the young entrepreneur on her company’s fast growth.
Raised in Lewisham in London by a mother who put aside a successful career working for Barings bank in the city to devote herself to caring for children, her own and others, Jessica was inspired by seeing her mother take pride in raising confident children with strong self esteem, to follow a similar path; “ Growing up it was just me and my mum and she has always made me believe that I can achieve anything I want to! She has taught me that to be happy is the most important thing in life so your work should be something you enjoy. At times things were tough but seeing her determination to push through hard times and seeing how far we have come in truly inspiring.
With demand for classes widespread and existing classes near capacity, the launch of J’s Dance Factory Franchise was an organic evolution for the brand. Jessica expects to have ten franchises in place by the end of 2013.
Equally the off-shoot talent agency, Jessica Elliott Management for 3-17 year olds, has already seen Jessica’s students secure high profile roles in The Lion King, Matilda and Doctor Who to name a few, Jessica Elliott Management represents an agency brimming with un-media trained ethnically diverse and talented children whose USP is their genuine love of performing.
Having recently been successful in her application for one of the government’s Start-up loans and mentoring, Jessica is being heralded as one of the UK’s brightest entrepreneurial talents. In her twenties yet already a glistening role model for the next generation of how a recession or our economy need not determine your future, Jessica’s success is empowering for us all.
As one of the many awards that adorn her mantel exclaims, Jessica Elliot is absolutely one of “London’s top 10 people.”