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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

3371 reviews on Trustpilot

Adele
* * * * *
18th Jan

Lovely vibe and class to explore and create as a family

Lovely calm vibe in the class, well organised and resourced. It was lovely creating art as a family. It was great to see my little one explore and create a piece of art for her bedroom! She has been showing people her work when they come round!

Kerry
* * * * *
18th Jan

First session with Kat and she was so…

First session with Kat and she was so welcoming from the start. Made sure she spent time with each child that had attended, as well as giving them time to fully experience the different colours, paints etc. Although there was a few parents who worried about getting paint on their holds hair etc ( it’s messy play :/) this doesn’t affect my score and can’t wait to go back!

Jade
* * * * *
18th Jan

Very good

My boy had lots of fun. Thank you

Laura
* * * * *
18th Jan

First time at the creation station and…

First time at the creation station and me and my son really enjoyed it. He keeps telling me how much fun he had. We will be coming again.

* * * * *
18th Jan

Truly fantastic party and very happy birthday girl!

Kate provided an amazing party. She was so good with the children and kept 13 3-6 year olds completely engaged throughout the whole party - no mean feat!! Lovely treat for the birthday girl at the end as well. The party was in my home but all the floors and surfaces were very well protected. Couldn’t recommend highly enough and great value for money.

* * * * *
18th Jan

A great birthday party for our twins

Our children had a wonderful party with their friends, packed with activities which they all enjoyed very much. They also loved going home with their 'own' bag full of self-creations. We also added something 'to make' as a party favour to keep up the theme. Something to look out for though, there were 17 children who finished activities at different speed, which meant that some of the 'not so patient and careful finishers' were keen to run around or play with balloons. I would certainly book Kirsty again but keep a few little games ready in case some children need entertaining in between.

Ryan
* * * * *
17th Jan

My 3 kids had the best time and cant…

My 3 kids had the best time and cant wait till next week

Amy
* * * * *
17th Jan

So much fun

So much fun. My 10 month old really enjoys it. The staff are fantastic and really make the class. I’m not usually one for classes but this one I will be returning too

Helen
* * * * *
17th Jan

Myself and my 8 month old had the best…

Myself and my 8 month old had the best time at creation station today! The girls were lovely and the play was so much fun! Loved watching my little girl explore and discover new things! Will definitely be coming back!

Lauren
* * * * *
17th Jan

Very lovely lady and helpful and made…

Very lovely lady and helpful and made us feel very welcome