10 to Watch 2018: Island Circus Space

“The rules don’t apply here. Circus is an opportunity to take any dream you had as a child and bring that dream into this space — you can fly or somersault or be the funny guy. Island Circus Space is a place where imagination is huge.”

Photograph by Jeffrey Bosdet. Lisa Eckert (left) and Coral Crawford (right).

In a sense, being a circus artist and starting a business are similar pursuits. To be successful in either, what’s needed is a little juggling, a lot of balancing and plenty of imagination to attract an audience. That’s what circus performers Coral Crawford and Lisa Eckert found when they launched Victoria’s first circus school.

The idea for Island Circus Space (ICS) emerged when Eckert moved back to Victoria after touring the world as a professional circus artist with companies like Cirque Éloize. “I’d reached a point in my career where I was being pulled in two directions: either continue my professional career but sacrifice my home life, or come home and sacrifice my circus career,” she says.

“It made sense for me to join the two and bring circus here.” Crawford connected with Eckert as soon as she moved here from Vancouver and together they worked to build a circus community from scratch.

Eckert and Crawford started out teaching a few ground-based classes, such as handstands and circus fit. Interest exploded, and by September 2017, ICS opened in its own Rock Bay location, offering aerials, acrobatics, Cyr wheel classes and more to over 100 students each week.

The duo’s long-term goal is to one day open a professional training space like Montreal’s National Circus School and transform Victoria into a Canadian hub for the circus arts.

Q&A With Lisa Eckert and Ceral Crawford of Island Circus Space

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

Coral: Think critically of the advice that is given to you. Also, learn how to be flexible and to keep your goal in focus.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Lisa: If you don’t have that passion for [your business] to be part of your life every day, it’s going to eat you up … Remember that this is not just your business but your love. I’d say take it one day at a time, but also, things have got to get done! Expect to be up late at night and up early — you’ll eat, sleep and breathe your business.

All the 10 to Watch 2018 Winners

Avalon Accounting
Club Kwench
Hyas Infosec
Island Circus Space
Stride Properties
The Cookie Guy

This article is from the April/May 2018 issue of Douglas.