I wasn’t destined for business
My childhood was brilliant and I couldn’t fault my upbringing but at the age of 16 years, I felt I knew better and left school and home to start up on my own. I knew I wanted to work and earn money, with a flat under my belt I had a lot of bills to manage. I worked for the next seven years in administration, reception and customer service roles, learning and building my knowledge as I went.
In my seventh year, I knew this wasn’t for me. I had always wanted to be a teacher and decided to return to my studies to begin the process of becoming a primary school teacher.
The turning point
Whilst studying, I missed earning, and applied to a local babyballet franchise to teach ballet to preschool children. Having danced since the age of 3 years, I felt working in an environment where two of my passions could link would be a great opportunity and not one to miss.
I fell in love with the company, the brand and the ethos and my partner at the time suggested I look into becoming a franchisee with the company.
Where to start
Having no experience in business, I decided to present my idea to my family (some who had been self employed for many years). Everyone agreed the concept worked and supported my decision to go for it! From here I contacted Business Gateway as advised by my step mum, and it was great! I was placed with a business advisor who supported me, writing my business plan and forecasts as well as attending a multitude of free courses.
Whilst writing my business plan, I had to decide on the area that I would run. As the company was a franchise, area around me was limited and as I have always dreamt big, I didn’t want to not have the ability to grow and expand into surrounding areas. I thought about going over the water to Fife but another possible franchisee was looking at this area. I thought about going west and Glasgow felt quite intimidating for someone who only knew Edinburgh. Then I looked at Lanarkshire.
I decided to hit the road and go and explore areas within the county and stumbled across a family fun day in a popular area of Motherwell, Strathclyde Country Park. With my confidence slowly growing, I decided to speak with people and pitch my idea. After speaking with 150 adults and finding out 148 people said YES (two only said no because they weren’t from the area), I decided to go for it!
Financing my decision
After completing my business plan and ready to go for it, I had to find a way to finance the franchise which came with a lot more fees than your usual start up. Business Gateway introduced me to The Prince’s Trust and with my business plan I took to a panel of 4 individuales to pitch my idea for a business loan. It was both the most exciting and nerve wracking experience I had done and reminded me very much of Dragons Den.
As I had spent 6 months preparing for this moment, my research was through and when I began to pitch, my passion took over and I loved it! After answering all my questions, showcasing the gorgeous and cute props used within the class and detailing the projections, I was approved and I signed my babyballet contracts as a franchisee owner of babyballet Motherwell.
With my partner and friend by my side, I launched on Saturday 26th January 2013 with two babyballet classes filled with dancers ready to start their babyballet journey with me.
After the first day, word of mouth spread and the school began to grow. I continued to work at the nursery I was in during the day, studying and working on the business in the evenings and running my classes at the weekend. Some weeks I was maxing out ninety hours a week, it was hard core but I loved it.
Growth & Expansion
After the first year, it was obvious that babyballet was growing successfully, that I then looked to take on another teacher to support the demand.
From there the classes expanded and so did the team and by year three we had changed names to babyballet Motherwell, Baillieston & East Kilbride, expanding not once but twice.
In 2016, dancers were due to graduate from babyballet, but both grownups and children loved the ethos, teaching style and of course the teachers, that they didn’t want to leave! That’s when Tap 2 Pointe was created as a follow on school from babyballet.
Where we are at now
Now I work in the office which is based in Edinburgh and I teach in a T2P studio one night a week. I concentrate on the brand development, events and school growth as well as reminding myself why I do what I do, with the passion of teaching and dance. We have a great team of 13 women, 2 area managers, 7 teachers, 2 teaching assistants, a marketing assistant and a finance controller.
The babyballet franchise expanded for a third time and is now called babyballet Lanarkshire Central. Tap 2 Pointe has grown to incorporate two dance studios and the brand has propelled over the years with a brilliant website and online boutique.
Giving back to the community and volunteering has always been close to my heart. I support start up businesses as a business mentor for The Prince’s Trust as well as speaking at events and answering questions for young adults looking to begin their business journey. In 2022 I was appointed an ambassador for Women’s Enterprise Scotland where I attend events and support women in the business sector.
In my spare time I spend a lot of time with my family and I actually married my partner who told me to go for it in the first place!