Nathalie Alison from South East London runs Aerial Gymnastics London and is a circus performer. She reached out to The Prince’s Trust for financial support during the Coronavirus pandemic, and her business is continuing to grow and develop.

“I’ve been running my business for three and a half years, alongside working as a performer on cruise ships. It was already established and growing all the time but due to the pandemic I needed funding to help support the business.”

“I saw an advert online about The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund and I applied although I didn’t know much about The Prince’s Trust. I was actually able to apply twice, and I was successful in getting funding both times.”

The pandemic wasn’t exactly an average time! The funding supported my business and gave me a bit of breathing space, ensuring that I didn’t have to use any of my personal finances to support the business.

Nathalie lost her job on the cruise ships as soon as the pandemic hit, losing her income for the rest of the year. Furthermore, her business is not one she could run virtually.

Nathalie is also passionate about supporting others into the circus and aerial gymnastics industry.

“To my knowledge, I’m the only black woman in London running an aerial gymnastics business, and there are only a few others across the UK. It’s a predominantly white industry.”

“As part of my business, I offer between 25% and 100% off class fees for families who couldn’t otherwise afford it. This came from my own personal experience – I was extremely fortunate as a child as I was able to get a scholarship from a charity to fund my way into the circus industry.”

“My parents would not have been able to afford it, so I wouldn’t be doing this job without that scholarship. We started this part of the business two years ago, and it has been so eye-opening and emotional.”

Nathalie started gymnastics at age 4 and studied circus full time as a teenager. She’s been Director and Head Coach at Aerial Gymnastics London since 2017 and loves running her own business.

Her advice to other young people hoping to start a business is this:

“Do try and get another income stream while you are starting your business to allow yourself the freedom to run it. Keep investing money back into the business as long as you can, too. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.”