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Alternative Careers to Teaching – from music teacher to running your own creative business

Emma McCalla-John invested her twenty years of expertise in teaching music, into her dream of being her own boss, running her own creative business and supporting children to learn and develop through fun creative art and crafts activities. 

We asked Emma to share her story as to why she decided to move on from teaching, what she was looking for, why she decided to run her own award-winning Creation Station Franchise. providing classes, clubs, parties and events in and around  Harborne and Bartley Green and how she feels now.

Read Emma's story below:

Emma McCalla-John

What area of teaching did you work in?

“I trained as a Music teacher but quite early in my career, I started to work with special needs children. Throughout my twenty-year career, I have worked with children and young adults with lots of differing abilities, those on the autistic spectrum, those with physical disabilities and other complex needs.

I love working with children, especially on creative projects and expressive arts.

As time wore on I wasn’t able to have as much say in what I was teaching and it all seemed about passing exams, meeting the grade and trying to teach all children the same thing and in the same way. We don’t all learn the same way though!”

Why did you decide to look change career?

“With an almost grown up family, it seemed the ideal time to take a calculated risk and challenge myself to achieve what I could of only of dreamt of a few years previous – to run my own creative business. It was a now or never moment”.

What other options did you look at?

“Over a few years I have been looking at franchises but not really seriously, I think I always liked the idea but nothing really jumped out, until I came across The Creation Station”.

Emma McCalla-John

What attracted you to The Creation Station?             

“I looked at the list of franchises that were going to be at the NEC franchise exhibition and thought, ‘That looks interesting!’. Prior to the exhibition (only about a week), I did as much research as possible on The Creation Station; I downloaded the franchise information pack from the website, read about it, watched Youtube clips and got a list of questions prepared ready for when I went to the franchise exhibition.

I think I knew before I got there that this was going to the right fit for me. But seeing the bright and colourful stand and the lovely ladies from the network just re-enforced my gut feeling that I had to be part of this success and value driven company

I just knew!

It wasn’t a rash decision, I’m quite risk averse really but it really did tick all the boxes”.

Why did you decide to invest in a franchised business?

“I could of only have dreamt of running my own business, but I mean where do you start?!

Investing in my own Creation Station franchise means investing into a whole network of support, that’s really important to me. I know that I can always ask for help, advice, and support at any time from our Creative Hub Head Office or from other franchisees”.

How did you finance your business?

“I decided to get a loan. It was quite straightforward. Because The Creation Station is established this means the bank rate this as a much lower risk bank loan than if I had to start on my own”.

What were the barriers you had to overcome before you made the decision to invest?

“My nerves, but my family were supportive, I was worried about the change of career and I knew it would be difficult especially at first but I was determined. So in the summer of 2017 I completed my training and started running my business pretty much straight away”.

What did you think about the training and what do you think of the support systems   

“We had the best time at training, I have met lifelong friends, I laughed more than I’d laughed in years and oh yeah, we learnt loads. The support is invaluable and someone can always help you. I like the way head office just phones for a chat sometimes too”.

Describe your highlights so far       

“Going into schools for Create Clubs and workshops knowing that I’m doing something I love and giving 100% because I’m happy”.

How does this compare to teaching?            

“It’s the same but different. I like the organisation of planning and preparing classes and events, but with Creation Station, all the session planning is already done for you – yay! I love seeing the children being creative and building relationships with them.

I don’t miss the commute to work or the endless hours marking or doing paperwork!”.

How do you feel about the future?

“Really positive, I’ve had a steady first year where I’ve learnt a lot. I feel confident and whilst not everything has gone to plan I think it’s good to have challenges because it motivates me to try even harder to be the very best I can.

I smile every day.

The parents are fab, they love the sessions, the babies and toddlers are so cute too.

I love being my own boss, being able to have time to sing in a choir and play saxophone in a band without worrying about getting everything done.

Sometimes I even go out on a school night!”
 

Jazz EMCJ duo

Are there any personal goals you have achieved?

“I’ve achieved some important personal goals. I have a flexible work-life balance; that doesn’t mean less work, it means work that you want to do when you want to do it. To be honest, sometimes I work harder and longer… but it’s my choice, the work is valuable and I reap the benefits – and that’s great”.

What experiences have you had that you are proud of

“I’m proud of taking the risk, taking a chance and doing something that to be honest not everyone has the guts to do”.

What tips would you share with other teachers who are feeling like you did? 

“Think carefully about why you chose to teach.

Does your career meet your expectations?

Are you doing everything you always wanted to do?

Are you and your family happy?

If the answer is yes, then congratulations you’re doing a great job.

If the answer is no…what are you going to do about it?”

If you'd like to book some of Emmas' fun and award-winning classes parties, clubs and events in and around Harborne and Bartley Green click to see children's classes, birthday party entertainment, after school clubs and school workshops as well as events. If you would like to get in touch with Emma about classes, parties club or events please contact Emma via her Creation Station Harborne and Bartley Green Activity page. 

If you would like to follow in Emma's footsteps and begin your own creative journey download our information pack here and find out more about how The Creation Station franchise could work for you. 

What people say

Excellent 9.5/10

2875 reviews on Trustpilot

Pamela
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21st Oct

Ellie really enjoyed the day.....looking forward to return visit.

Ellie really enjoyed the day...... great fun with her wee friend. And had a great time down in the cafe. Will definitely look out for another event. The atmosphere was great and the attention to detail was fabulous up stairs and within the cafe. Especially looking forward to going through the secret garden door..

* * * * *
21st Oct

Daughters 5th Birthday party

Hanli was lovely throughout the whole planning from answering enquiries immediately. On the day the children enjoyed the activities very much, it was very well organised and through being a teacher, Hanli had a great rapport with all the children. Thank you and would definately recommended and use you again.

* * * * *
21st Oct

Slime Workshop - Nashmills Village Hall

Our two children absolutely loved this workshop. Everything was well set up ready for the children and Liza was a great host giving the children clear instruction, encouraging and helping when required. Both our children are Autistic so the sensory experience with the slime was perfect for them. They came home very happy with their sparkly slime and decorated pot to keep it in. Highly recommend.

Gemma
* * * * *
20th Oct

Christmas Card making fun

Great time had by both my children today with Becky, can’t wait to see what the finished cards look like.

Lisa
* * * * *
20th Oct

We had a lovely time at creation…

We had a lovely time at creation station today even though my boy is only young they helped us make a card with his feet so it will be a personal card for all the family, they were very friendly and I will definitely be going back. I highly recommend them to any family that would like any unique cards made for the family.

Victoria
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20th Oct

Fantastic class run by such a lovely…

Fantastic class run by such a lovely person. Always on hand to help with my boystruss boys. Thank you

Siobhan
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20th Oct

I took my little boy who is 9 months…

I took my little boy who is 9 months along to a class, he really enjoyed it! And so did I! The lady who ran the class was so helpful and interactive and couldn’t do enough to ensure we got the best from the experience. Thank you

Sue
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19th Oct

Been going several terms now

Been going several terms now, granddaughter still loves and not got bored

* * * * *
19th Oct

Rebecca was wonderful

Rebecca was wonderful - looked after a room of 16 five and six year olds seemingly effortlessly. Our daughter and her friends had an amazing time and we've got the glittery pottery as a memento! Highly recommend.

Mhairi
* * * * *
19th Oct

Highly recommend!

My little boy and I had a fabulous time at the Creation Stations Baby Discover class today. Fun class where my 10month old was encouraged to explore and play in a relaxed and friendly environment. We had lots of fun painting and making mess (without having to clean it up!) and made a cute prints keepsake. Lisa was lovely and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.