Posted on December 16, 2013
On reflection, when Karen Hardy and husband Conrad Murray (pictured with Jade Johnson) decided to start a business together in 2008, in one of the worst economic climates of all time, it makes what they have gone on to achieve with Karen Hardy Studios all the more remarkable.
These achievements were celebrated at a festive gathering on December 12 at their exclusive location on Chelsea Harbour. Studio members were joined by KHS teachers, the great and the good of Strictly and many others.
Marketing itself as London’s only luxury ballroom studio, Karen Hardy Studios has gone on to win numerous local accolades, including Hammersmith and Fulham’s Favourite Business 2012, and been honoured at the Hammersmith and Fulham Brilliant Business Awards.
Since opening in 2008, the studio doors have welcomed over 2,000 members, from those who join to learn their wedding dances to dancers seeking private bespoke tuition. Karen confessed that she hadn’t considered her own studio until 2005 when one day backstage at Strictly a certain Gloria Hunniford (also in attendance for the evening) asked where her friends could go to learn ballroom. Aware that she didn’t want to direct Gloria’s glamorous friends to church halls or school dining rooms, Karen had her epiphany.
Entertainment on this special evening included a performance from the KHS Children’s Academy, and three truly phenomenal displays from new British National Professional Latin champions Neil and Katya Jones.
The duo began with a dynamic cha cha cha, in which the music shifted tempo and rhythms serving to showcase this couple’s incredible musicality. They followed this with a powerful rumba and a military-themed freestyle routine.
The evening also featured the return of Natalie Lowe, dancing a dreamy American smooth with Ian Waite for the first time since her foot injury. Other Strictly stars on the guest list included Iveta Lukosuite, Zoe Ball, 2009 winner Chris Hollins, Karen Hauer and a fashionably late Kevin Clifton (pictured right with Karen), who was fresh from It Takes Two and, as the evening wore on, regularly teased by Ms Hardy that with only 48 hours until the semi-final it was definitely past his bedtime!
KHS now employs nearly 20 full-time members of staff from receptionists and accountants to tutors and, as both Karen and Conrad were eager to explain, the success of the studio is very much a team effort. However, this seven-day-a-week commitment has not deterred Karen from wanting to open another studio in the future. As Conrad concluded on the night, “You can’t keep a good woman down.”