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I loved the classes so much I decided to invest in running my own Creation Station franchise

Kelly Janson really enjoyed attending Creation Station classes and used to think what a great way to spend your working week!  Kelly was looking for a different career path but just wasn’t sure what to do. It was Kelvin her husband who reminded her just how much she loved The Creation Station classes and maybe Kelly should look at doing something she actually loved for a career.

Now Kelly spends her week providing wonderful arts and craft children classes and birthday party entertainment in Hucknall, Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Sutton-in-Ashfield and the surrounding villages of Ravenshead, Linby, Papplewick, Huthwaite and Skegby.

Here’s Kelly’s story

Tell us about your background

“I was a Primary School teacher. During my 15-year teaching career, I taught in the Early Years and in Years 1 and 2.

Why did you want to work for yourself? 

“During my last few years of teaching, I began to feel frustrated at the limitations I was put under as a result of the current education system. I am a firm believer in child-led, exploratory learning and allowing children to learn and develop at their own pace and developmental level. I absolutely loved working with the children and staff but I had become disillusioned with the system and the amount of paperwork, testing, and attainment-driven targets that children had to do.

Working for myself gave me my control back and has allowed me to reach my own potential. The Creation Station shared my own ethos for the importance of learning, exploring, and developing through the process of creative activities!

Kelvin, my husband has supported me throughout this journey. He recognised how unhappy I was in my previous career and how much I need something to enjoy and focus on my passion for working with children. Ffion (pronounced Fee-on) is my eldest daughter. She is 7. She loves that I run Creation Station classes as it's a pretty cool job! She also remembers attending classes when she was little and absolutely loves creating and crafting. Eloise is 4. She also loves what I do and can often be found following me around in the hope that some of my stock may find its way into her own crafting box!

Here's a video we did together for red nose day.

How did you finance your investment? 

We had some savings and I was also lucky enough to be gifted some money from my grandparents. My family has been so supportive in allowing me to find happiness in what I do and follow my dream! The remaining money was finance through a business loan.

Making the change from career to self-employed is a big step. How did that feel?

My family and friends could see that I’d love doing this and would be really good at it too. My biggest barrier was myself. At that time, my confidence was at an all-time low and I was very unhappy. I was also leaving an incredibly secure, well-paid job with a good pension and holidays.

Ultimately though, I knew that something big had to change if I was to feel myself again! I also wanted my children to grow up understanding that we are in control of our decisions and we can change our path if it isn't right for us anymore!

What was involved in starting up your franchise?

I had taken Ffion to Little Explorers classes when she was younger and so I knew what the sessions were like and the enjoyment we all got from them.  So I downloaded and read the franchise information pack from the website. There was so much more potential than I realised, as activities are also provided for adults and the elderly too.

I went along to the Discover event which is now online. I have to say I was very excited! I was also nervous, knowing that it was a big investment and commitment to make it work. I took my family along with me for moral support and because it was as much of their decision as mine. Everyone was so welcoming, and it was very informative. It was great to hear from other franchisees and what they had achieved.

I then had lots of conversations with The Creation Station team, reviewed my contract and soon I was booked in for training! Training s also online so much easier and accessible for people now.

I loved my training week back in January 2020. I met a wonderful group of ladies with who I am so lucky to still be in touch. Even now, a year on we are in contact, sharing ideas and cheering ourselves on for the wins, and picking each other up when things have felt overwhelming. In fact, the network we have from Head Office to the support from all the franchisees is amazing and has definitely kept me going through the challenges of this year. I have always felt supported. Someone is always available at the end of a phone, email, or message and I look forward to our weekly catch-ups and training sessions on Zoom.

You launched just before the Pandemic,  how has that been?

Initially, I wanted to focus my business on after-school Create Clubs coming from my teaching background but of course, the pandemic has meant that these have not been happening for very many schools if at all.

I found that parents were struggling being at home with their little ones due to all the restrictions and that there was a need for baby and toddler groups. I decided to launch my Baby Discover and Little Explorer sessions last October and they have proven to be very successful. My business is now focussed on the younger ages and Tiny Treasures New-born sessions and I have been running these both face to face and online.

I have run monthly Creative Crafters online sessions for nearly a year and it feels great to still be able to offer people a chance to try new things and socialise with others. Already I’m looking at getting into schools and plan to be lots of schools from September.

Throughout each lockdown, I have run an online Create Club for children aged 3-11. Charlie and Jacob attended every session and it was an absolute pleasure to see their confidence and skills develop during this time. Their mum Nicola has commented on how much her boys looked forward to my class every week and how much they concentrated and engaged with the session even though it was online! She also loved the fact that she could get a quiet cuppa in whilst still being on hand to help them if needed!

How has it felt running a franchise business rather than doing this by yourself?

The support has definitely been invaluable! Being self-employed can be lonely but I can honestly say I have never felt alone. As a franchise, we have been there for each other every step of the way and have helped each other stay standing and continue to push through. I am also deeply grateful to our Head Office for the sacrifices they made in terms of suspending and reducing fees during this time. I know if I was doing this by myself I would not still be here today and I would have had to return to full-time employment.

What support have you received?

I have received support from fellow franchisees through our private Facebook group. My BDM Kirsty Hickson is amazing and has supported our region through our catch-ups and during one-to-ones. Head Office is always available for a chat if you need them and offer great masterclass sessions where we can focus on moving our business forward. They have also provided financial support for us during a time, which has also been difficult for them. I have also received immense support from my customers who have attended classes both face to face and online, written lovely reviews, and have recommended me to friends

How do you feel having kept your business going and growing through the Pandemic?

I am proud of the franchise and how well everyone has adapted to the difficult times. I am also very proud of myself for never once feeling like I wanted to give up. I have worked hard this year to bring fun and creative classes to local families and have I adapted continually to all the challenges and changes we have been faced with. My confidence and resilience are stronger than ever. I am also proud of my husband for coping with the fact that the garage is no longer his alone and how my crafting stock is slowly filling up more space!!!

How is the future looking for you?

I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past year. 

  • I am stronger than I ever thought.
  • I am good at what I do and I need to keep telling myself this!
  • I am happier with my working life than I have ever been.

I’ve learned a lot about starting up a franchise business. I’ve learned that there will always be tough times but you have a much better chance at getting through it if you adapt and remain positive. Help and support are always available. You don't have to do it alone. You need to step out of your comfort zone and put on your bravery boots if you want to continue to grow!

I can't wait to get back to face-to-face sessions and to continue to grow my customer base and my business. Things are looking brighter and as more and more restrictions are being lifted I can see how much potential my business can have!

Click here to come along to Kelly's award-winning children's arts and crafts classes, or to book an after-school club, birthday party, or an event in Hucknall, Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Sutton-in-Ashfield and the surrounding villages of Ravenshead, Linby, Papplewick, Huthwaite, and Skegby.

Click here for classes, parties, and events near me.

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