Gaby Lixton and Caroline Sparks launched Turtle Tots in 2011, it's now a successful and innovative swimming company, and is licencing throughout the UK
Turtle Tots is an award-winning and unique swimming programme, which begins during pregnancy with aqua-natal yoga for mums-to-be and continues once the baby is born with specialist and progressive baby and toddler classes. Not only does it focus on teaching babies and young children to swim, it also promotes pre-natal and post-natal fitness and provides an excellent toning workout for mums….. and dads as well!
How did you come up with the idea for Turtle Tots?
Gaby: I previously ran a large baby swimming business in Oxfordshire and Berkshire. In 2008 I sold the business and we moved to Bristol, but I found I really missed teaching swimming so I launched Turtle Tots. I have three young children, so I made sure Turtle Tots worked around my family, and it became very lucrative, very quickly!
I realised that running a Turtle Tots business could work for anyone who loved swimming and babies, and had the enthusiasm and motivation to run a business. Licensing seemed the natural progression, to grow Turtle Tots by offering others the opportunity to run their own Turtle Tots business where they live.
I’ve known Caroline for several years. Caroline has a strong background in marketing and had also run her own business, so our skills really complement each another.
What makes Turtle Tots different?
Caroline: We’re different in lots of ways!
Firstly, our programme includes aqua-natal yoga for mums-to-be, which isn’t widely available, and proves extremely popular.
Secondly, our lesson plans have been endorsed by leading personal trainers, because they promote post-natal fitness.
Thirdly, we are huge supporters of charity and give a percentage of each class to a carefully chosen cause.
And last but not least, almost all our licenses are parents themselves and offer an unparalleled level of personal service to Turtle Tots customers.
We’ve put a lot of time and thought into the Turtle Tots business model to make it a really attractive proposition for anyone considering running their own business. We want our licensees to be as happy and profitable as possible, so with our training and support they can grow to be as big or as small as they like. It’s a really flexible job so licencees can choose the hours they work, and it’s also very lucrative, with multiple revenue streams.
Tell us a bit more about the Swimming Programme?
Gaby: Turtle Tums is an aqua-natal course that provides mums-to-be with a great way of exercising within the controlled and supportive environment of water. It also gives the mums lots of confidence to bring their baby swimming after he or she has been born.
Once the baby is born, Turtle Tots baby classes begin. At our classes mums and dads learn how to swim with their baby above and below the water and how to teach your baby water confidence and key lifesaving skills. Personal trainers have endorsed the classes because they help mums regain their strength and fitness after their baby is born. In fact the classes can burn up to 250 calories!
What are your long-term plans for Turtle Tots?
Gaby: Since launch we have grown fast across the UK, and won several awards. We have recently trademarked in several other countries and plan to launch internationally very soon.
Licensees benefit from multiple revenue streams and one of these is merchandise. Over the next year or so we’ll be introducing a much wider range of Turtle Tots merchandise for licensees to sell, which will add to their profits, and of course increase brand awareness too.
What’s the best part of what you do?
Gaby: My passion lies in the knowledge that we will be introducing many more babies to water from an early age, well from birth, teaching them water confidence and skills that could potentially save their lives one day. I also love the fact that our programme is written for the mums too...and I love the fact that we are helping new mums set up their new pattern of exercise for their future as a mother. My job is incredibly rewarding: if I’m not teaching mums and babies in the pool then I am teaching new licensees our Turtle Tots programme and therefore allowing them to benefit like myself from this awesome lifestyle business.
Caroline: I love the fact that my job doesn’t feel like a job! It’s incredibly varied and every day is different. Last week I met with several potential licencees, saw our accountant, briefed an underwater cameraman for a DVD we’re having made, researched and placed advertising, and wrote a press release, amongst other things! Like Gaby, I also have young children, so the fact that I can fit it all in and still do the school pick up is a dream come true.
How can M&W readers find out more about JM?
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