Can you tell me when did you start your business, please? What inspired you to become self employed and how long did it take from the concept to realisation?

I started my Baby Sensory business in May 2011. Well the actual running of the classes started in May but the process began in January/February 2011. I had been taking my daughter Sofia to Baby Sensory classes in Monkseaton since she was 4 weeks old and I fell in love with them. It was the highlight of our week! Seeing the babies having so much fun each week (and the Mam’s too!) was amazing. 

 

 

I was due to go back to work as a Family & Crime Solicitor in February when my maternity leave ended. I remember feeling so sad around Christmas knowing I only had 6 more weeks of maternity leave and having to leave Sofia 3 days a week plus the occasional weekend too. 

I had been working as a solicitor for 7 years before I went on maternity and it was a job I had always wanted to do since being at school. I didn’t love or hate the job, it was quite enjoyable most days but also very high pressured and stressful. Had I not went on maternity leave I’d probably still be there now as I wouldn’t know what else was out there. Having a child made me re-evaluate my life. Taking time away from work allowed me to really think about whether being a solicitor and the hours it involved was the right thing for me and my daughter. I had always wanted to run my own business but I didn’t know what kind of business.  I started making enquiries into a Baby Sensory franchise shortly after Christmas 2010. By February I had signed my franchise agreement so it was all very quick! The following 3 months were a whirlwind of training, business planning, marketing, organising - all while still looking after my 8 month old baby! 

 

 

How do you fit your business with family life, what are the pros and cons and do you have any advice for balancing the both?

Being your own boss enables you to choose your own working days/hours. I really wanted to do the school pick ups/drop offs, attend the school plays and assemblies so having my own business has enabled me to do this. Initially I ran classes 3 mornings a week which increased to 4 days. I then had my second daughter Beatrice in 2014 and I scaled the classes back to 3 days so I could enjoy 2 days midweek with her. Having a business afforded me this flexibility and this is definitely one of the perks - it adapts to your life, making it fit around your family and it’s needs.

 

 

Having a business though is not 9-5 Monday-Friday. You think about it constantly and it’s hard to switch off. The majority of my work is not actually the running of the classes - there is so much work done behind the scenes. I get a lot of messages, emails, texts and phone calls from parents enquiring about my classes and they come at all times of the day and night. My phone is on silent through the night as I gets lots of messages from mammies who are awake with their babies! I could be on my phone constantly and I have been guilty of this on many occasions but you need to exercise a bit of control and put down your phone or tablet so it doesn’t start to control you. I’ve learnt that parents don’t need an instant reply (in fact they quite often thank me for replying so quickly because they probably weren’t expecting to hear from me so soon) and it’s ok to put my phone down, spend some time with my girls and husband. I’ve learnt that my customer will still be there a couple of hours later! 

 

 

What are your goals for your business?

When my youngest started school in September last year I could’ve had 2 days a week to myself however I had always wanted to expand my business and be able to offer classes for toddlers as our baby classes come to an end at 13 months. I was asked by my Baby Sensory parents almost on a weekly basis if there was a toddler class they could bring their baby to when they finished Baby Sensory and up until then it always pained me to say no there wasn’t. My parents didn’t want to leave as they loved the classes so much and wanted to continue so I’m delighted that now I can say YES! You can bring your little one to Toddler Sense! I currently run Baby Sensory classes 3 days and Toddler Sense 2 days. 

 

 

In 2014 I was asked by the company to take on the role of Regional Coordinator for the Northeast which I gladly accepted as this meant I could really expand not only my business but the company as a whole by recruiting more franchisees here in the Northeast. It is my responsibility to recruit, train, support and mentor franchisees.

Our company started under the Baby Sensory Ltd., banner, but as our expertise and programmes have broadened, we decided we needed an umbrella brand. We are now known as WOW!

We introduced WOW because our breadth of offerings now encompasses more than a single-age category. We are not just a baby company, nor a toddler one. We have programmes ranging from pregnancy to school age. 

 

Not all of our franchises run here in the Northeast so it is my goal to change that. Personally I would love to have my own Wow Centre where I can offer a range of different programmes for families to attend in beautiful surroundings all designed for the comfort and convenience for them. 

 

I also want to expand our franchises around the North East. We have lots of exciting franchise opportunities available! 

 

Not all of our franchises run here in the Northeast so it is my goal to change that. Personally I would love to have my own Wow Centre where I can offer a range of different programmes for families to attend in beautiful surroundings all designed for the comfort and convenience for them. 

 

I also want to expand our franchises around the North East. We have lots of exciting franchise opportunities available! 

 

 

What words of encouragement would you offer to a mum thinking about opening her own business? 

It takes guts to leave a job you have done for years. It’s a giant leap into the unknown. But it is a leap worth making. If you have the drive and determination and the necessary support (financial and personal) in place to start your own business then go for it! I have never regretted leaving my law career to start my own business. It was the best decision for me.