Meet the Parent Entrepreneurs Inspiring Families Across the UK
New research from Hoop reveals that a quarter of a million parents are starting businesses after feeling ‘pushed out’ of their old jobs. Meet the parents risking it all for the family activity space and find out why they went it alone.
Bring Your Own Baby Comedy - Alyssa Kyria and Carly Smallman
When my daughter turned 9 months old I was ready to work again - I have always worked freelance as that enabled me to still perform as a comic and actress. Carly was also working freelance, as she is a fabulous, touring comedian herself. We both found ourselves in, to be honest, rubbish jobs where we were being treated badly and were generally fed up. As well as being comediennes, we both had 'day jobs' - Carly was working in a cafe, and I was teaching Drama. We decided to form a business together and take back control of our lives!
We love that we can set our own schedule - although sometimes this works against us as we are up till the early hours working on Bring Your Own Baby Comedy - we are obsessed! We have such a laugh together and it's just amazing working with your best friend. In the future we would love to bring BYOB Comedy to every town in the UK, we are so excited to bring comedy to new parents, and give them the laugh that I had desperately needed when my daughter was tiny.
Bring Your Own Baby Comedy is the UK’s premier baby friendly comedy club. Show offer amazing comedy, where parents and babies can relax and have a good laugh at the best comedians on the UK comedy circuit, without paying for childcare!
Jennifer Mushumani, Franchisee - Debutots
Before I started my business I was acting, teaching acting and raising my children, but had always wanted to run my own business. I decided I wanted to become a franchisee in 2007. I did a search online for children’s franchises and found Debutots, met the founders, experienced a class, and haven’t looked back!
I felt that time-wise it might be better to become a franchisee, so I could take advantage of a tried and tested business model and have the support to set it up and manage it. Debutots seemed to be the perfect choice for me, as it combined my expertise in drama, a love of working with children, plus also my administration and organisational skills.
It’s incredibly rewarding to be constantly working on and working in my business, watching it grow, maintaining its reputation, receiving positive feedback, thinking about its future.
To be able to support your family and enjoy going to ‘work’ is something I feel very lucky about. I thoroughly enjoy delivering the classes, as I’ve loved babies and young children for as long as I can remember! It’s also great to recruit and train practitioners who are delivering high quality classes which are making a massive difference to children’s confidence and to their thriving imaginations. I have a lot of control over my working hours, and can be there for my children (before school, after school, during the holidays) whilst they are growing up.
I grow my business a bit like I used to play ‘Grandmother’s Footsteps’! I was never one of those children that took massive risks and ran for it, I preferred to take a few small quick steps at a time, and would then pause to check I was still ‘safe’! I’d like to keep growing my business at a rate that feels manageable in line with my family life.
As we move into 2019, I’d like to keep increasing the number of classes we offer, especially in schools and nurseries. At the moment I’m also devoting a lot of time to setting up intergenerational Debutots sessions, bringing together nurseries and care homes.
Debutots is an award winning interactive Storytelling and Dramatic Play Classes that are unique, original and fun! Learn more here.
Bouncy Bunnies - Mhairi Veall
I made the decision not to return to my previous job post-maternity leave as I felt that after 10 years in the ecommerce and marketing industry I was ready for a new challenge. One that enabled me to be more local and spend more time with my boys.
At the same time, the lady who was running a playgroup we had been attending informed us that due to a new work proposition she had been offered, she was going to finish the sessions, unless someone was willing to buy the business off her. Normally that might have not sparked an interest, but it seemed an opportunity to explore more as I could work as well as being with my children.
Although my husband and my parents thought it was all out of the blue (which it was), I knew I had to follow my gut instinct that it was the right thing in my life to do right now. I felt that two mornings of playgroup a week was a really good balance for work and family.
I’ve always wanted to own my own business, but never really knew what to do, so when this opportunity came along it seemed to make everything slip into place. It was a speedy turnaround, as I knew it was invaluable to have continuity of playgroup sessions, and so by the next week (after a lot of admin!) I was the owner of my own business.
I have worked most of my professional life in marketing and ecommerce for the retail industry, mostly in the beauty and fashion sectors. Whilst on maternity leave I also trained as a Reflexologist, specialising in pregnancy and postnatal care, which I run alongside my playgroup business. Luckily I enjoy talking about babies and children, as both roles focus on this!
It is a daily challenge and there is no 'clocking-off' or real business hours, which does take some getting used to. However I absolutely wouldn't change it for the world, and know I made the completely right decision for me for this period in my life.
I love that everything is my decision and that the effort I put in directly reaps the returns. I really enjoy making someone's day when they have had a good experience at playgroup, and when children say 'wow' when they walk into a session and see my bouncy castles and toys! I love connecting with my regulars and offering a real support system (and cup of tea) to parents who at that moment may be struggling and just need to offload/sit down or have a face-to-face conversation with another adult to help them through the morning.
From a personal point of view I love that I can choose when I do my admin and can work it around my kids and the rest of life. There was no masterplan to be a business owner, I just took a leap of faith in the face of a great opportunity!
Bouncy Bunnies offers Soft play for babies and toddlers, offering play mats, toys and activity cubes for little-ones and bouncy castles, ride-on toys, a play-doh table, colouring area for energetic toddlers.
ZipZap - Laura Edwards and Moya McGinn
We wanted to build a business which could work around our families and create a flexible income so we can be around for their important milestones and moments, and decided to start our own business around 4 years ago - we have been operating for 3 years now.
Before ZipZap we worked together at a leading children's drama school for older children, having trained and worked as actors and performers for the early part of our careers. Laura also worked as a corporate trainer using actors skills to help people in companies deliver more confident and effective presentations.
We decided we wanted to bridge the gap between sensory and music classes and those which were more like a performance that children had to sit still and watch. Therefore we created classes run by performers which included a huge amount of sensory props and allowed babies and toddlers to explore the room, interact with each other and the workshop leaders, developing the foundation of confidence and social skills during the first few years of a child's life.
We adore watching what we have created come to life. Moya (who wrote our intro song) often jokes that she feels like Elton John as people sing along! We love working and developing our classes with our incredible and inspiring team of staff. The rewards of seeing children grow from a tiny 3-month-old to a confident and self-assured 3-year-old is amazing. The flexibility to work around our children and sometimes taking them along if necessary is also a huge bonus. Moya was able to take her son with her to work from when he was 14 weeks up until his first birthday.
Every year brings new challenges and new ideas and it's great to push ourselves to think of solutions and to grow.
Zip Zap provides award winning weekly music, drama and sensory classes for children under 5
The Glow Method, Betsan de Renesse
My decision to start a company was based around the lack of ‘factual’ information for women as to what’s safe and what isn’t safe to do (re exercise) pre and postnatally. From my own experience I muddled through during my pregnancy doing things I would never consider doing now. I mistakenly thought that ‘listening to my body’ was enough.
During the postnatal period I became obsessed with rehabbing my body. I don’t believe having baby is an injury, but my body (and mind) did suffer a huge trauma and I was convinced that a quick check at 6 weeks postal wasn’t the green light to jump straight back into my old fitness routine. Postnatal yoga was lovely, and I met a huge support network of other mummies, but it just wasn’t quite satisfying the competitive athlete in me.
As a PE teacher, and having a sports degree I decided the best way to learn for myself was to qualify as a pre/postnatal specialist. I was shocked and dismayed to find that almost all training courses I found were so out of date I couldn’t have faith in their validity. The accreditations were a short, simple ‘top up’ to my personal training certification. I wanted more than this. I thought my body deserved more than this. It was after a few months that I found The Lotus Method. A personal training gym, based in San Francisco, dedicated exclusively pre and postnatal fitness. I contacted the founder and was immediately inspired by her company, the depth of her knowledge, training course and her vision.
My aim with ‘The Glow Method’ is to do my part to support and further inspire the revolution which is happening in pre and postnatal fitness. Helping women exercise safely through their pregnancy and rehab with an evidenced based, holistic approach to programming during their postnatal period which will allow them to to return to wherever they want to be.
This year I plan to continue to expand so as to be able to spread the message of safe exercise to more women. I love being so passionate about what I do. Working never feels like a chore because I’m always doing what I want to do, and love.
The Glow Method offers mummy and baby functional fitness classes and personal training. Revolutionising pre and postnatal fitness with a holistic, evidence based approach.
Read exclusive research from Hoop revealing that a quarter of a million parents are starting businesses after feeling ‘pushed out’ of their old jobs here. Read the full report here.