Children can inspire us in many ways, but rarely do their needs become the catalyst for a business idea- particularly one that complements a family life rather than compromise it.
Jennifer Taylor is in that enviable position. She was looking for a music group for her 21 month old son Gabriel, but was drawing a blank. When her internet research found Musical Minis, she was delighted. It was perfect – a class that concentrates on child development through music.
But a call to the organisation led to disappointment, as there were no classes running in Scotland – however, it did work on a franchise basis.
Jennifer had worked as a restaurant manager with PizzaExpress before having Gabriel and had recently started to work part-time in the restaurant owned by her partner. “I had been racking my brains to think of something I could do that meant I wouldn’t have to go back to the restaurant business,” she says. “Something that would fit in with my family life, and something that made the most of what I had to offer.”
Jennifer had studied musical theatre, plays piano, guitar and violin, and sings. Music is obviously a great love and Musical Minis seemed to be an ideal opportunity to combine that with a flexibility that would mean spending as much time as possible with her young son.
“I went to London to see a class and loved it. Musical Minis was founded by two women, one a child psychologist who had been a play worker in Great Ormond Street Hospital and the other a nursery school head teacher.”
The idea of the 45-minute classes, which is aimed at children from six months to around five, is development of core skills through music: physical co-ordination through songs like Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes;essential physical strengthening through jumping and skipping; listening skills in games such as Musical Statues and language development during story-time.
Jennifer set about buying the franchise for her area, which runs from the Forth Road Bridge in the north to the Borders, and as far as Livingston.
“I went to Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and was assigned a mentor. Gateway provided me with a start-up-grant and as I had just turned 25 I was also eligible for assistance from the Prince’s Trust.”
At the moment Jennifer runs two classes in Trinity, but after the summer holidays, another four will begin.
“Port Seton Community Centre has asked me if I’ll do classes there and I’ll be contacting private nurseries to offer the service. I’m also hoping to donate some time to Edinburgh Sick Kids.”
Many people who start a franchise opt for a part time basis, with a couple of classes each week, but Jennifer is aiming for a full-time operation.
“I already have an assistant. The idea is that the assistant is trained to take over a class, then another assistant is hired and the process goes on from there.”
A success story through taking an opportunity to fill a gap in the market – and after just six weeks. It shows how the right idea for the right individual can mean a business hits the ground running.