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Rachel Woolford
North Studio

NUBS alumna Rachel Woolford set up this boutique fitness studio. It has locations in Leeds and Harrogate.

Meet the founder

Name: Rachel Woolford

Location: Leeds, UK

Studied: Economics and Business Management

Graduated: 2017

Connect with Rachel on LinkedIn >
Rachel Woolford, NUBS Alumna and founder of North Studio

What inspired you to start your own business?

I grew up with self employed parents and I knew since about 7 years old I wanted to start my own business with no idea what industry it would be in. My dad is one of my biggest inspirations when starting up my own business. My strong work ethic and drive and determination to succeed definitely comes from him.

What is the best part of running your own business?

The freedom to put my ideas/creativity to the market and only answer to myself!

What is the biggest challenge you have faced running your own business and how did you overcome it?

Owning a business throughout a pandemic definitely taught me a few lessons. The whole concept of the business relied on customers coming to a physical location to workout. Business restrictions kept our doors shut for 6 months so cash-flow was tough to manage. My rent was still expected to be paid but little to no revenue was coming in. I adapted the business by starting online zoom classes and renting out equipment to clients. I started selling gift vouchers and merchandise during the Christmas period to try and keep some money coming into the bank. We were lucky to have very supportive clients and people were very keen to support local independents at that time. We did what we could as a business to survive the pandemic and we're still here to tell the tale!

What is your 5 year vision for the business?

To continue to expand the business around the North of England and open up further locations with the addition of some of the latest movements to emerge within the industry.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to anyone wanting to start their own business?

Ensure you're passionate for your product/service. There will be difficult days when you feel like giving up, but having a passion and love for your business will get you through.

Were there any key moments during your time at NUBS which ignited your entrepreneurial spirit? 

In my second year at Newcastle I chose to study the ‘Business Enterprise’ module. I worked with a group of my peers and set up a real business selling gift hampers. We went to Tynemouth Market to sell our products. We also got a feature in the local press in Tynemouth. I had a part-time job in Fenwick’s department store during my time at university, but this was my first go at selling a product where I had influence over the design and marketing - and I loved it!

About North Studio

North Studio was founded in 2020. It's a boutique fitness studio with two locations in Leeds and Harrogate. We employ 18 people across both locations.

We offer a range of state-of-the-art group fitness classes with a lively, fun and personal element. The studios feature 'The Refuel Kitchen'. Clients can order a post-workout drink from our specially curated menu of protein shakes, smoothies and fresh juices. We also provide flexible payment options, allowing clients to pay as they go or join as a member.

We're very proud to have won Fitness Studio of The Year at the Yorkshire Prestige Awards for both 2021/2022 and 2022/2023.