Updated: Mar 15
In this new blog series we aim to highlight fantastic creative people who we either work with or admire every week! This week its Rebecca Trowbridge Founder of Catford Pilates
1. What led you to start up your business?
I’d known for a long time that I wanted to change my career and had been through many ‘this is it’ ideas, but nothing seemed to stick, or I didn’t feel strongly enough about it to get started.
Pilates wasn’t even on my radar as an option until I was referred to an amazing teacher to help with chronic back pain. It sounds corny I know, but within only a few sessions I knew I had found my calling. I didn’t have any doubts this time; a year later I quit my job and started my teacher training.
2. What were the biggest obstacles to starting up?
At the time it felt like there were a lot of practical problems to starting my own business, but looking back I can see that most of this was about letting go of my old life and how that had shaped my sense of self.
It turns out I was surprisingly attached to being an ‘established expert’ even though I didn’t enjoy my job.
Starting all over again as a baby graduate has been humbling, rejuvenating, terrifying and exciting.
On a practical level, finding decent, affordable space to run classes while keeping prices reasonable for my clients has been really difficult. I had to change venues three times in my first year of trading.
3. What do you love about your business?
Well, I absolutely love my job and I care deeply about what I do. That isn’t something I’ve ever been able to say before.
Knowing that I make a difference to people – from getting a better night’s sleep to helping someone recover from illness or injury – has brought meaning and joy to my life. I truly can’t believe how lucky I am.
4. Who would be your dream client
Anyone who discovers that they enjoy Pilates and wants to learn more. I specialise 121 and small group sessions.
Smaller classes means I can offer a more personalised approach adapting movements to suit each person in the group and to accommodate any injuries or restrictions.
I have a well-equipped private studio space with a reformer which works well for my private clients, particularly those who need some time and space to regain confidence in their bodies.
5. Where would you like to take your business ultimately?
It’s too early to say on that – I have a lot of dreams and schemes in the pipeline – time will tell which ones come to fruition. But I do know that I want to keep teaching Pilates in my local community.
6. Where have you received the most support along your journey?
My career change wouldn’t have been possible without my spouse. He has taken the financial strain and continues to endure endless conversations about Pilates, along with my plans for building the business, with generosity and good humour.
The wonderful women who I trained with have been amazing support – going through the same life change together has formed a strong bond between us.
I was also lucky enough to get some mentoring through Lewisham council’s business start-up scheme which made a huge difference during my first year of trading.
7. Would you consider going back to employment for someone else now?
I’m practical and pragmatic so if I had to I would, but I really can’t imagine going back by choice.
8. What do you consider the key skills a small business person must have?
Overall I think you need to love and believe in what you are doing.
Resilience is essential, there are weeks when the size of the task seems overwhelming and the setbacks keep on coming.
Curiosity and a capacity for learning new skills; drive, vision and good problem solving skills.
This year I’ve also been learning about the importance of compassion and kindness towards yourself to help navigate the emotional rollercoaster that can come with starting your own business.
9. Have you been influenced by any business books or blogs recently?
Not a business book, but the Compassionate Mind Workbook has really helped me to start learning some new skills to deal with periods of overwhelm.
10. What would your top tips be to anyone considering starting their own business?
Have a back-up plan and make sure you can cover your basic bills and expenses. Make sure you have a support system in place.
Try to keep some space in your mind and your life for things other than your business – when I master this one I’ll let you know.
Write your business plan and then plan for it taking twice as long to meet your income targets.
Set out with the intention to succeed and give it everything you’ve got, but know that if it doesn’t work it won’t be the end of everything. There’ll be something else for you and it might even be better.
11. Do you think networking is important for your business?
Yes networking and community are essential - for perspective, support, ideas, expertise and sometimes a much needed boost - but you have to pick and choose where to put your energy.
You can’t do everything. I’m working on building three networks – my community of lovely clients, fellow Pilates teachers and other local business owners.
I know I could (and should) do more, but then I wouldn’t have any time to do Pilates, which would be a bit of a problem.
Thanks so much for a fab interview Rebecca.
To Contact Catford Pilates
Don't miss reading more in the 'Have you Met?' series
Interview 18- Maddy Carrick
Interview 17 Anja David
Interview 16 -Bridget Daley
Interview 15 -Karen Arthur
Interview 14 -Rebecca Trowbridge
Interview 13 -Angélina Jandolo
Interview 12 -Kelly Harris
Interview 11 -Sara Dalrymple
Interview 10 -Ciarán O'Fathaigh
Interview 9 -Elizabeth Knights Trench
Interview 8 -Aba Edwards-Idun
Interview 7 -Roxsanne Slatford
Interview 6 -Lara Pearce
Interview 5 -Ashanti Jason
Interview 4- Shannon Reed
Interview 3 -Claire Connor
Interview 2 -Becca Teers
Interview 1 -Cat Bateman
Singing for my Supper
If you enjoyed reading this article and maybe others I've written, found a tip that worked for you or learned something new, it would be great if you'd consider sending me the price of a cup of coffee :) https://www.paypal.me/thanksforreading/2.50
Space at 61 is a venue for hire in Nunhead near Peckham. Often used for childrens parties, workshops, classes, talks, filming and popups you can hire us from £20per hour. The 'Have you Met?' Blog interview concept was created by by Shona Chambers owner of Space at 61 and Shona Chambers Marketing. To read more like this visit www.shonachambersmarketing.co.uk