Today we have Karen here from Emporium Parties. Can you tell us a little bit more about your business please?
We are a children’s entertainment company. We have been established since 1999. We do a mixture of parties for children from 3 years up to 17. We do things like makeover parties, beauty parties, mobile discos which is full entertainment, games, dancing, a little bit like your holiday park style, we do all the dance routines with them, and we also do action and theme based parties which are suitable for both girls and boys.
So a good scope there for the parent choosing something different for their child. Great. Now, can I ask you have you always worked in this field, or do you have a different business background?
I have done this now for 12 years. My previous jobs I’ve done are a real mixture of things from a bar assistant to care work and a bit of childcare. The company itself now sort of stems from more of my passion as a child really. I used to be a dancer, enjoyed being around children so now I do things that is what I am good at, as opposed to doing a job just to make a living really.
That must make a difference to your life. You told us when you started the business, why did you take that leap?
I just sort of fell into it really. I opened up a shop, my husband had said “let’s open up a shop”. He wanted to do electrical appliances. I said look if I’m going to working full time running a business it needs to be something that I will enjoy doing. To get job satisfaction you need to enjoy what you are doing. So we decided that we were going to open up a girly hair accessory shop and cosmetics. I had a small room out the back of the shop which we used and I used to do a little bit of hair braiding, the little hair wraps that the children get, the coloured ones, when they are on holiday, and I happened to be mentioning to a parent at the time that I was thinking about going into makeover parties and was about 7-8 months pregnant at the time. The mum said, “oh my god, what a marvelous idea, she said if you start doing the parties then I will book one”. So I said I tell you what, you book one and we will do it. That’s really how the business started.
Wow, so you were pushed towards it from somebody that you came across. That is great. Starting a business can be really really expensive. Was that the case in your situation?
Because my business has sort of grown over the years we have had to invest a lot of money into it and being a new business starting up alone you do tend to waste a lot of money I suppose. Starting a business, people think is very easy but its not. You have to do your homework and we have invested a lot of money into mistakes, hence the fact that I now franchise my business so that other people can start up a lot more cost effectively and they have got my backing and support, my experience and my team around them so that they don’t make the mistakes that we have made and therefore it is not as expensive for them to get started now.
Wow, you have learnt lots as you have gone along and you are passing it onto them, that’s great.
Yes, which is a good thing with any sort of franchise, not necessarily what we do, but with any franchise I think it is a great way to start a business because you are not going to invest more money than you need to, because the mistakes have been made for you.
Sure, and you mentioned that you run a franchise, can you please tell me a little bit about which areas you cover.
Currently we have franchisees based in Brighton and Worthing and Chichester in Sussex. We have 3 franchises based in Kent – Maidstone, Dartford and Folkestone. Our latest recruit is from Cheshire up in Warrington. So we are looking to go nationwide but we have only been running the franchise programmes for about 18 months so the name is just starting to get out there but we are looking for people all across the UK to come on board to have fun and get paid to party.
That sounds fantastic. You mention that you were pregnant when you had this idea. Do you find it hard to juggle your work and your family?
In those days yes I did, I mean obviously starting a business when you are pregnant. I started just before I fell pregnant, things happen and I got pregnant. It was very tough to start with and I was working 70 hour weeks when I launched the parties alongside having a 2-3 month old baby. It is very difficult and you do need a good family network around you. Fortunately I am at the point now where my children are older so I don’t need to be there during school hours and things but you have got to find the right job for you to suit your family needs and you do need your family to be supportive.
Definitely, I mean I myself, with my business and my family can’t do enough for me to help so I know about that first hand. Now could you please tell us if you have a website for your business?
We do the main company website is http://www.emporium-parties.co.uk/.
Original date 6/9/11
Ok, so obviously with us being What’s Good to do, wouldn’t be right to let you go before asking what you like to do to relax and rewind?
In the very rare time I have to unwind and relax I’m a natural performer I suppose and I do like to dance where possible, I do like to listen to music, I’m a bit of an 80’s girl in that respect, I like my 80’s music. I like to watch a few of your normal popular TV programmes, like Eastenders and X-Factor but generally I don’t tend to have much time off but I do enjoy my job so although it is stressful running a business, my business is also my passion so social life goes a little bit on the wayside but I enjoy my job so much that it doesn’t matter.
Sure, no that is understandable actually, you are not going to work to work, you are actually enjoying every minute of it. Now, thank you so much for talking to us today, it has been great and very informative.
No problem at all. My pleasure.