Rebel Studio

Rebel with a cause: Bringing specialist yoga to London

Ex-professional dancer Jacqui Hooper and osteopath Bertie Russell met through their shared passion of yoga. 

The pair quickly realised they could join forces with their individual skills and combined yoga practise of over 20 years, to create a truly specialist yoga studio in the capital.

The big idea

Turn their popular class – originally run from a church hall in West Hampstead – into a boutique yoga and osteopathy studio in Kings Cross.

What happened

Project owner Jacqui told us: “Crowdfunding was a fantastic way to be able to showcase exactly what we’re trying to achieve through Rebel Studio. 

"We had a great concept, already secured an amazing premises in the perfect location and taken out the maximum start up loan available, but building a specialist yoga studio is not cheap!”

Despite several investment offers, the yoga duo decided they didn’t want to compromise on the quality or direction of the businesses. 

Instead, a reward based system offered the perfect alternative: “Offering classes and treatments with the rewards system suited us perfectly, as we wanted to avoid giving away equity. 

"Having already asked friends and family for help, crowdfunding seemed like the best way to gain a little extra capital for our project to get off the ground.”

Jacqui explained that while they had a database of almost 300 people (with a small number being supportive regular students), they still had reservations: “Whilst we knew our project had potential, we really had no idea how many people would support us. As soon as our crowd funder page went live we felt extremely vulnerable. 

"Our plans, hopes and dreams were ready to be viewed (and judged) by the wider world and a poor response to our campaign would have had a significant impact on our confidence.”

Fortunately for Jacqui and Bertie they raised a cool £10,540 (their original target was £7K) from 73 supporters in just 21 days. Jacqui described the feeling: “As the first pledges started to come through there were tears of joy and relief, shock and gratitude.”

The pledge rewards

Pledges ranged from £20 to £1,000 and all rewards focused on the nature of the campaign – yoga! With 26 supporters, the most popular choice was the £50 pledge, which offered a reward of 3 classes and a limited edition Rebel Studio t-shirt. 

For £1,000 super dedicated yogis could get a year membership to the studio along with a choice of 4 treatments, a t-shirt and an invite to the launch party. 

But even the smallest pledge of £20 rewarded the backer with a class at the studio.  

What’s next

With plans to open by late summer 2016 the pair are currently busy finalising plans for their specialist yoga studio and osteopathy clinic. 

Jacqui told us: “We can’t wait for our supporters to redeem their rewards and experience what they helped us create.”

Tips to project owners

Don’t be afraid to promote yourself: “We are very lucky that Bertie’s brother is a documentary director so making short taster films that tell a story are second nature to him. 

The idea of making a video and writing a pitch to sell our concept was at first a bit overwhelming, especially as we’re not naturally self promoters. 

"But as soon as we realised that it was the perfect platform to explain our idea, rather than the usual struggle to express ourselves through a series of Facebook posts or even worse, tweets, we found the inspiration we needed to make the project a success.”

Be yourself: “As long as you have a great idea that you truly believe in, are knowledgeable about, experienced in, and more than anything, are passionate about, others will take note and support you. 

"In keeping with our approach to teaching yoga, our top tip is that you communicate your idea simply and clearly.”

• Visit the page to learn more about Rebel Studio