After thirty years as a teacher and in education management Alix decided she was ready for change. Alix decided to apply her skills and passion for nurturing children's potential. Alix invested in her own Creation Station franchise and launched her business just before the pandemic. Alix's business has grown steadily as demand for online and safe face-to-face sessions increases.
Here's Alix's story:
"Prior to becoming a proud Creation Station franchise partner, I was a primary school teacher with management responsibilities. I'd been teaching for 30 years. I wanted to work for myself because I'd reached the point where I didn't want to have to go through another Ofsted inspection. I wanted to set my own working hours and targets.
My lovely husband, Ian couldn't have been more supportive. He could see that I'd lost my sparkle and wanted to give me the opportunity to get it back. My son Tom is 28, and he has also been really supportive too- helping with parties and events at the weekends".
What concerns did you have about changing your career and running your own franchise?
"My biggest concern was losing the security of a safe income, pension and the familiarity of the job. But I knew I had to make a change. Once I recognised this there was no looking back!
I downloaded a Creation Station franchise information pack and was so impressed by the quality and scope of the business opportunity
By the time I went to the Discovery Event I had already decided I wanted to become a franchisee. I'd also already handed my notice in, so I was ready to take that next step if Creation Station was prepared to have me!
What was the training like and what is the on-going support like?
"The training was intense but good fun! I had never realised that there was so much to learn! A great foundation to launch my business My husband Ian attended with me, and that was great. He totally 'gets' everything I'm talking about and trying to do. I only got a few months of running my business before Covid and the first lockdown hit us. However the support we have been given via weekly zooms, financial support (not having to pay license fees), plans and policies being updated to ensure that we are Covid secure has been second to none".
How has your Creation Station business model adapted to the pandemic?
“Oh yes - my business model is so different now! I am basically running an online business now, which i absolutely love doing! I've been able to support children and families with out of school clubs, parties and Tiny Treasures – I’ve done these online and when allowed to, safely face to face.”
How has it felt running a franchise business rather than doing this by yourself?
"I think it would have been almost impossible to 'go it totally alone' during the pandemic as there would have been so much legal jargon and government guidance to plough through and understand. By being part of a franchise we have had someone do this for us, ask questions of solicitors and accountants and come up with the answers and training required to be Covid secure. Knowing that there were a lot of other franchisees in the same position has been so good and we have become a close community as we all understand those meltdown moments, and can therefore offer advice and support to each other."
You've mentioned the support you received quite a few times, can you tell us a bit more about this?
"The support I have received has ranged from phone calls and zoom catchups just to check how I am, to weekly business update zoom meetings. Financially we have been so supported as our monthly license fee was frozen whilst we adapted our classes - head office made huge sacrifices in order for that to happen. Session plans were updated and adapted for socially distanced classes, and then again for using via zoom. All the advertising materials and Covid secure assets have been provided. It has definitely been good to be part of a bigger team with the big picture in view during the past year with all its ups and downs"
It has been a tough year, you mentioned highs and lows can you share some of your highlights
I've had so many lovely moments! I've had so many 5-Star reviews of my sessions and parties. People have said how brilliant it was for the children to be able to celebrate their birthdays with their friends whether it was via zoom or in a socially distanced garden setting - and all have commented on how the activities have held the children for upto 2 hours, even getting them to go and wash their hands and then return to the screen! Probably the best comment is from Charlotte aged 9 who said
"THANK YOU ALIX - you made my arty party awesome! I give the party 5 Stars!" you can't ask for a better review than that.
Plus we had our inspiring imaginations conference and I was so thrilled to gain the Inspiration award!
Please may you share one thing you've learned about running your business?
"It is incredibly hard work, but you will only get out of it what you put into everything will work the first time, but it's OK to rewrite your business model and start again if you need to. There are 100s of other people out there doing this - and there is so much support for us.
If you would like to find out more about running your own flexible and fulfilling creative business, download a franchise information pack.