Today we have Carly from The Creation Station. Carly, can you tell us a little bit about your business and which areas you cover?
Yes sure, The Creation Station is an art and craft based franchise, so it is children’s art and crafts. We do weekly term time sessions for 3 month year olds up to 5 year olds, and we also do school holiday classes for 1-11 year olds. We also do parties as well, we do sort of arty party entertainment and we also go along to corporate events and family fun days, fetes, that type of thing and again offer art and craft entertainment for the children.
So that sounds like a real wide range, anything from an after-school activity to actually providing some kind of child care when parents are at work during the holidays, is that right?
Yes that is correct, we do have a lot of different things. All of the things we do the parents do have to come along with them, we don’t provide childcare but it is opened up to the whole family to come along. We do mixed aged sessions so that you can bring older and younger children so that the whole family can come and get involved, do something creative and have lots of fun. That is one of the main things that drew me to The Creation Station when I first started was the wide range of things that they offer and also the different things that you can get involved in, which is really fantastic and very exciting. There is a lot of things that we do.
Yes, it does sound like it. Great, I mean even offering kids parties that is a real help to some parents that really don’t want the mess at home.
Yes, definitely because we basically do everything apart from the food, so we set everything up, then we do all of the activities and we also provide all the music, party bags, invitations etc. We basically provide a whole package so it is really a lot less stressful for parents. They can just get us in, we do everything for the children and all they have to do is provide the food and enjoy the fun. So yes, it is really good.
Yes, you do this now. Can you tell me, did you do something completely different before?
Yes, I used to work mainly in travel customer service so I was working in call centres, setting up call centres in the UK and abroad, and managing those. Whilst I was pregnant I spent quite a lot of time in India setting up call centres over there for a travel company so it is completely different what I do now, to what I used to do.
Sure, do you find that it has been a good change for you really and you get more family time than you would have done had you stayed doing what you did before?
Definitely, I knew if I had gone back into my old role, because it was mainly outsourcing and working in different countries, it would have meant that I would have had to travel a lot and I knew that wasn’t something I wanted to do with my young daughter, I wanted to obviously be able to spend a lot more time at home with her. So this has worked perfectly for me. I take my daughter to all of the classes, so I started when she was about 9 months old and she is nearly 2 now. She comes along to all of the classes and at first she just sort of started by getting wet in the water, sitting in the water bowl, playing with the water but obviously now as she has got older she has started to interact more in the classes and she sits there and does her painting. She just means that I can work and have her with me. At weekends when I go off and do parties and events, my partner looks after her, so it does give me a nice break as well to go off and do something but it just means that we can both spend a lot more time with her which works really well.
It does sound like what you do you really do enjoy. Do you find it hard to get motivated?
Not really, I quite enjoy it to be honest so no I don’t really. I think because it is my own business that encourages you to get up there and get out and bring the business in and make sure that everyone loves what you do and you enjoy it so no I don’t really. Sometimes when you have been really busy and you’ve been up all night it is difficult to get going but most of the time I just really love what I do, and it is good fun.
Sure, great. Ok so obviously there are a lot of people at the moment probably thinking about starting out in business. Could you tell us if you found any very useful resources along the way?
I did a business link course when I first started which I found really useful as it did give me an insight into business, how to run your own business, how to manage your costs and how to do invoices and all of your packs, and all of that kind of thing. All the things that I never really had a clue about before, and also because I bought into a franchise that also gave me a lot of support so we have a week long training so within that that covers marketing and again expenses, doing your tax return, that type of thing, so that has all been really helpful. Then obviously you learn a lot along the way, there was mistakes that I made when I first started, and now I’ve changed those, so you do learn a lot along the way as well.
I bet you do, I think it is great that there is something out there that you can use to learn the things that you maybe haven’t come across, so that is very useful thank you. Now I know that you have got a website for The Creation Station. Could you tell us what it is please?
Great, and I assume that you are part of the main website?
Yes, on the main website there is a map and if you click on there it gives all of the different franchisees and I am in the Bracknell area so that’s me.
Sure, ok so I know that The Creation Station from what you have told me is growing quite rapidly at the moment which is fantastic. Can you tell me, are you quite well covered now in the UK, which regions are not covered that well, that you might be looking for franchisees?
Yes, to be honest it is still quite a new franchise so I was the first franchisee in the South East which was a year ago and then now there is about 10 of us now in the South East so there is still all over the UK there is still lots and lots of spaces to be filled. Where I am I am in Bracknell and then the closest to me is Guildford and Godalming so there is lots of lots of areas. I think quite a lot of the Midlands, up in Scotland especially as well is somewhere where there is only 1 franchisee in Scotland. There is only 1 in Wales so there is still quite a lot of opportunities to get involved. Obviously it is growing really rapidly which is fantastic.
Yes, that must be fantastic. I suppose because you are a franchisee you have kind of avoided some of the mistakes perhaps that your franchise made when they were starting out.
Yes, definitely Sarah Crest is the lady who started it. She ran classes for about 5 years before starting it as a franchise so she has been there, she has done it, she has made all of the marketing mistakes, she has trialed all of the session plans and that is really great, it is great to have someone that you can turn to, ask questions and know that actually they have been in your shoes as well, so they know what they are talking about and have been there and tried it all. It is really helpful.
So, anyway it wouldn’t be right before letting you go to not ask you what you like doing in your free time?
In my free time, I like spending time with my daughter so we do a lot of activities together, we do swimming and we do music classes, we do a gymnastics class. I also like doing Zumba and I am a keen skier so we go skiing a couple of times a year and I have skied for about 20 odd years now so really enjoy that as well, so that is what I like doing.
Great, thank you so much Carly for talking to us today.
No problem at all.