What’s your business called?
Can you describe it in one sentence?
A unique and captivating dance/ movement class for babies and toddlers and their parents/carers.
When did you start it and what inspired you?
In 2000. I was a professional dancer for 10 years and have danced all my life, so it is something I am very passionate about. I was teaching dance to 3-18 year olds and realised there wasn’t anything on the market, dance related, geared to children under 3 years. I had lots of parents asking if they could bring their 2 year olds to my classes, but the class structure wasn’t really suitable for children that young, so I decided to create a syllabus specifically for this age group, and it grew from there.
How did you fund your start up?
It didn’t really cost me anything initially, I created the syllabus myself, made a flyer, printed it out and hand delivered it! I then offered a couple of taster classes and everyone that came along signed up for the term! Once I had established classes in my area I decided to build the franchise model, so I used the funds earnt from my classes to have contracts drawn up and do a bit of advertising. Now that it’s up and running it funds itself.
How do you manage working around your children?
It’s tough as my two are still very young (2.5yrs and 1yr)! I have a Nanny two days a week so that I can fully concentrate on Tappy Toes. The rest of the time it’s grabbing a minute here and there while they are napping to reply to emails. I return phone calls when they go to bed (around 7pm) as it’s impossible to talk when they’re awake! And I always spend an hour or two catching up with things early evening to try and stay on top of it. I still teach some of the classes myself, and the great thing is I run them term time only, so when the kids start school I will still have the holidays off to spend with them, and will be able to do pick ups and drop off’s as I can plan my class times around them.
Can you describe a typical day?
To be honest there isn’t really a typical day, it’s really varied. On the days when the Nanny is in I work 10-6pm. I spend some time online marketing the franchise, posting on social media that sort of thing. I often research new music and props to develop the syllabus, and chat to our franchisees about how their classes are going and how we can help build them.
What have you found hardest?
Juggling work and family time. There are never enough hours in the day. I like to get things done there and then, and I have had to learn to have more patience. The children don’t care if I have a marketing deadline, or an important phone call to return, so it’s a balancing act at times.
What’s the best thing about being self employed?
I love the fact that I am still around for the kids, I can work into the evening if necessary. I’m not tied down to set hours, and of course it’s nice not having anyone tell me what to do… I absolutely love running Tappy Toes, teaching the classes is extremely rewarding. Watching the children grow in confidence each week, and develop as little dancers due to a syllabus that I personally created, well, it doesn’t get better than that!
What are your plans for the future?
To have Tappy Toes classes all over the UK and Ireland, and eventually worldwide!
What advice would you give for someone just starting out?
Believe in what you are doing, and go for it.