A 25-year-old from Blaenafon in Torfaen has launched a lifestyle business combining fitness coaching and an active wear brand, inspired by her own love of dance.
Georgina James, who works fulltime for a housing association in Wales, has used her free time to set up GEEJ, a coaching platform that offers dance fitness classes to young women across Wales with the aim of leaving them feeling empowered. The classes are targeted to women aged 16+, with Georgina already having around 80 regular attendees each week.
Georgina started her business with the help of Big Ideas Wales, part of Business Wales and funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. The service is aimed at anyone between the age of 5 and 25 who wants to develop a business idea, including students and graduates.
Following the success of her online fitness classes, Georgina has also launched the GEEJ active wear brand. The first collection, Candy, is available to purchase on her website with products ranging from caps and hoodies to sports bras and water bottles.
Talking about how GEEJ originated, Georgina said: “During my time working at the housing association I’ve worked closely with young people, helping them build confidence and think about their futures. I’ve also loved dancing from a young age and am a qualified trainer. From my personal experience, I realised that I could combine both and use dance to uplift and empower others, and so creating GEEJ just made sense.”
Georgina joins an increasing number of young Welsh entrepreneurs who have used the downtime during lockdown to embrace a ‘side hustle’ alongside work or education. Not only is there the potential for extra income but entrepreneurs like Georgina are able to work on a passion project while upskilling themselves.
Originally launched in January 2020 as in-person classes, Covid lockdown measures saw Georgina quickly diversify her business to offer online sessions. Nevertheless, GEEJ saw continued success with over 200 classes being run online as well as securing Georgina a nomination for Health and Wellbeing Entrepreneur of the Year at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, being a finalist for both Best Group Fitness Club at the Welsh Fitness Awards and Best Health and Wellbeing Business at the Welsh Business Awards.
Speaking about running a business during the pandemic, Georgina said: “When lockdown hit and lots of people were stuck indoors, I knew that GEEJ’s dance classes and lifestyle coaching could really help get hearts pumping, faces smiling and bodies feeling good. I started creating health and wellbeing challenges as well as a ‘Love Yourself’ challenge, setting members different tasks each week and having prizes for the winners. GEEJ is more than just dance classes, it is a platform for people who want to move in their life; move their bodies and move towards their goals.”
As lockdown restrictions ease, Georgina has returned to in-person classes and coaching, starting from £5 for individual classes or £17 for a monthly pass. With almost every class reaching full capacity, Georgina has started training some of her members so that they are able to run GEEJ classes in the future, allowing her to run more sessions. She’s also collaborated with one of her members who is an artist to create a mindfulness colouring book that is due to be published in 2022.
With ambitions to expand the lifestyle brand even further in the future, Georgina commented: “Every bit of free time I have is spent working on GEEJ. I’d love to own a studio eventually that could become a wellbeing centre for dance classes, fitness coaching, counselling and more, to help women live their best lives.”
After coming across Big Ideas Wales at a careers fair, Georgina attended its free ‘Bootcamp to Business’ event available to anyone aged 16-25 in Wales with a business idea. Speaking about the experience, Georgina said: “Hearing the success stories of other young entrepreneurs who have engaged with Big Ideas Wales and gone on to start a business was extremely inspiring and gave me valuable insight into the business world. I was also able to connect with others in my position which was a great way to grow my network.”
Amanda Bordessa, Big Ideas Wales business advisor said: “Georgina has cleverly combined her coaching skills with her passion for dance and developed a solid business that aims to benefit others. Her resilience and determination has really shone through during the pandemic, adapting to online classes to keep GEEJ going. She’s already achieved so much in the last year and I look forward to seeing her continued success.”