I have been running Kinderama since 2004 – which blows my mind because it feels like it’s only been a couple of years!
It was originally a side hustle. I wanted to put down roots and rent somewhere, instead of living out of a suitcase as I had been for the previous few years touring in various shows.
So I started a few kids classes and landed a job in radio at the same time. I worked a split shift in radio (voicing traffic reports for radio stations across the South West) and fitted in some classes in between. I wanted to move cities, so I hired a teacher to teach my original classes and then started teaching in Bristol. I hired a teacher in Bristol and things grew from there.
In 2007 I moved to Ireland, initially working on Red FM, whilst I set up more classes here. And the reason most people don’t know any of this is because I hid behind my business for years. I didn’t think to tell my story or step up out front. I didn’t network, I barely had a Facebook page! I was not a business woman – or so I kept telling people!
But in late 2017 a friend pushed me to do a Women In Business course with the Local Enterprise office. To say it was transformative is an understatement. We met every Monday for a whole day. We covered subjects in depth – marketing, accounting, tax, sales, analysis – and there was homework!!! At the time I had a 6 year old , a 4 year old, 4 members of staff and we had just moved house! It was a lot – but the buzz after every Monday carried on through the week.
I started an Instagram page, I joined a women’s network. I remember the first time I attended an International Women’s day event. Everyone had to stand up and introduce themselves and say one line about their business. I had palpitations about taking that mike and speaking.
After that LEO course finished I did other courses in SEO, Facebook advertising, Sales and Marketing and I soaked it all up, really enjoying the process of learning again.
And slowly but surely I started to step out and put my name (and face out there!). I met Sian, a tour de force as you all know, and without realizing it she also started pushing me out of my comfort zone. Grabbing me at events for selfies and tagging me on social media – I was learning on the job! I started to get comfortable and confident in my role as a business woman and learned that it was ok to do that my way. (I am not a fan of ‘business attire’!!!)
And boy am I thankful for all of that experience.
In March 2020 I had an appointment with AIB to take out a big loan to license Kinderama. The day before I was due to meet in South Mall I rang and cancelled. The schools were shutting and I wanted to see what was going to happen first.
Within two weeks over 100 weekly classes had been cancelled and 4 members of staff were put on hold. My Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away 2 weeks later. Income had completely stopped, bills were piling up and I was lost.
In a mixture of grief and bitter determination not to let my business go, I decided to take Kinderama online. Not just zoom classes but to film everything properly, with a crew, on green screen.
I used my savings, I got a grant, I got a business loan. I created a product, my friend helped me create a website, I learned about WordPress, MemberPress, Vimeo. I got in front of the camera, I got on social media, I did Lives, I did interviews, I hired PR and I worked hard!!
I made mistakes, expensive ones sometimes. I learned hard lessons. But I created an online product that will always be there. If I hadn’t got used to putting myself up front with my business in the two years previously – none of that would have happened!
Just this month, September 2022, is the first time that all of our classes are back up and running. Two and half years later. After the first week I practically collapsed in a heap. I am soooooo grateful my business survived. I am so pleased to see all the little faces LOVING their classes as much as they ever did. I am delighted to welcome new staff and share my knowledge. And I will now always step up and put myself out there and say yes even if I am bricking it on the inside! If you are too scared to do that – I completely understand, but I hope this inspires you to start.