This month we talk to Claire O’Connor - mum entrepreneur and owner of babyballet
Claire and the babyballet brand have won numerous awards including ITV Mumpreneur, Best Business Parent at the mumandworking Awards, Halifax Courier Young Business Person and Entrepreneur. Claire was featured in a Channel 4 documentary ‘Big Ballet’ exploring issues of size in the world of ballet.
Tell us a bit about you, Claire!
I’m a mum of 4 and wife to Chris since 2005. I love being a mum, socialising with my family and friends, going to the gym and I have started gymnastics again after 26 years! I also love my work and the people I work with.
Why did you set up babyballet?
I set up babyballet initially in 1999 with my mum, Barbara Peters, a trained dancer and renowned ballet teacher. My vision was to create a dance experience for little ones that was both magical and educational because when I was growing up, ballet classes could be a bit serious and severe. And even though I enjoyed ballet – it made me feel like an outsider sometimes because of this. I wanted children to experience something different and so we invented a magical world of dance filled with characters, colour, music and fun – a world where every child gets the chance to feel valued and shine. And so babyballet was born.
And now you have over 70 franchised business across the UK – tell us more about that
Well, my passion has always been babyballet and the magic it brings to babyballet little ones. I want to spread that magic further - across the world if I can - and bring happiness to more children as they learn to dance with us. And the franchised schools operating throughout the UK have enabled us to begin to do that, as well as offering lots of mums the chance to earn money whilst working flexibly. We currently teach babyballet® to more than 15,000 young children a week which gives you a flavour of the popularity of the classes! We have also recently just expanded to Australia – although it’s still early days, it’s going brilliantly.
What does your franchisee opportunity offer?
In a nutshell the babyballet franchise is a great way for you to run your own dance business, right on your doorstep, in a way that fits in flexibly with your family commitments. Not only that, but you can make a healthy profit from doing so –predominantly by running the classes, but our franchise package offers you lots of other possible income streams from sales of merchandise and our own uniquely composed babyballet music, as well as running parties and events too.
People often tell us it can feel quite daunting taking on the challenge of a franchise initially, so importantly we also offer a lot of support. When you join the babyballet franchise network, you immediately become part of a much wider franchise family and have the full support from me personally, a head office team and other franchisees where you might need it.
Who is your ideal franchisee?
Well primarily we would look for people with an extensive background in dance who are motivated, dynamic and well organised, preferably with some experience of running their own business in synch with family life.
However, we also consider people who don’t have any dance experience if they have a great record of running their own business, ideally in a pre-school environment. In this case they would take up a franchise as Business Manager, running their classes by hiring talented, qualified dance teachers.
But the main thing to say is that most of our franchisees are mums who fit their babyballet business around their family life, which as a working mum myself, I fully support and advocate!
For more information about running your own babyballet franchise: Visit the website here
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