How to turn your passion into your business – Victoria Cooper-Jones
Victoria Cooper-Jones has had two very successful careers before joining Razzamataz Theatre Schools and opening Razzamataz Queens Park and Razzamataz Belsize Park. From ballet dancer to interior designer, Victoria has found a new passion as she inspires the next generation of performers.
I trained as a professional ballet dancer at the Arts Educational School and the Central School of Ballet and I danced with the Houston Ballet, the Boston Ballet and the Ballet Nationale de Marseille. After injury, I studied at the Chelsea School of Art and Design and got a diploma in Technical Drawing and Interior Design and worked with leading Interior Design firms before setting up my own company following the birth of my daughter and son. Clients included Elizabeth Murdoch (Sky), Ernie Els (SA Golfer), the Sultan of Brunei and Joe Lewis (Owner of Tottenham Hotspurs and Entrepreneur).
I had been teaching ballet to adults and children and I found that children absorb information like sponges. Having captured their enthusiasm, I was able to watch them grow and develop in confidence and see their talent bloom. It was my sister who persuaded me to start a school of my own, as I had the passion and drive to build a place where I could watch my students grow in confidence and enable them to have opportunities. Setting up a school was something that I had been thinking about for a while and when the opportunity arose, I jumped at it like a shot.
I think the discipline instilled into me as a dancer drives me forward as a Principal. My main aim is to have a school where the children are taught well in all aspects of the Performing Arts. It is important that they are allowed the freedom to explore and develop their own talents and are encouraged to follow their dreams but most of all for them to enjoy themselves and have fun.
I’m a single mum, which is a challenge in itself! My husband died when our children were aged five and three. As devastating as that was, our lives had to go on. That was 12 years ago and I have run a very tight ship ever since. I have often been asked how I do it and I just don’t have a definitive answer. A lot of it comes down to time keeping and discipline. The kids and I have become a team; we always have open discussions over dinner and they make me laugh a lot. I have always tried to keep fun and laughter to the fore in our family as it provides a healthy work/home balance but there have also been many a tear shed too. The kids and I work together at Razzamataz as they are now 17 and 15. They help out on Saturdays as well as participating in all the classes. They do their best to ensure that we have a relatively fine balance between work and family life….movie nights in front of the TV being one of our favourite down times! Their support, and that of my immediate family, especially in the early days, spurs me on to try and reach for bigger and better results for us all.
I have always had a good relationship with Head Office and they have always been hugely supportive in my ventures, especially when it comes to Social Media because I was a real novice. There have been moments when life in general has been a tad overwhelming but Head Office help in so many ways to pick you up. There is also a great network group where ideas, achievements, support and advice are always available to tap into and there is a wonderful feel of camaraderie within it.
What advice can you give
- If you want something badly enough then you must go and get it – it won’t come to you ! It’s hard work but hugely rewarding.
- Set yourself achievable goals and follow them through. They won’t all happen at once but keep on going to the end ….the rewards are worth all the effort.
- Set yourself different tasks for each working day of the week and stick to them. It’s very easy to veer off course and realise at the end of the day that nothing has been achieved.
- ‘Why reach for the moon, when you can dance with the stars?’ Dream big, work hard, live life, be easy on yourself and believe that little star in the sky with your name on it will come ever closer to you until you can grab it and know that the first part of your journey to success has been achieved!
- Finally, NEVER STOP learning! There is always something new that will open your eyes, make you want to achieve that little bit more, bring more opportunities to your students and staff. The day you think you know it all is the day all your hard work will come crashing down.
- ‘To Believe is to Achieve!’ – visualise what you want, then make it happen. Follow your dreams and enjoy your success through your hard work.
Value and rewards
The rewards come from my students, their wellbeing and happiness are paramount. To achieve this, you need to have amazing staff. I count myself incredibly lucky to have two such teams at Queens Park and Belsize Park. There is an energetic buzz in the classrooms and in the corridors from the students in both schools. Through new friendship groups they have new found confidence which in turn has brought many positive affirmations and praises from the parents, who, in my view, are as equally important as the students. To develop my schools even further is my next exciting challenge.
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