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Annie Vigal and Angela Hood wanted to find a job which worked around their children. They discovered the arts and crafts franchise Creation Station and have ditched their former careers. They spoke to Workingmums.co.uk about their new start.
Angela Hood was working as a solicitor in family law until last week, This week she is taking part in an intensive training course to run her own toddler and preschool arts and crafts franchise.
Angela is one of four women taking part in the training session for franchise Creation Station. Two of them, including Angela, found the franchise through Workingmums.co.uk.
Angela admits most of her friends were a little shocked at her change of career direction, but she says she realised she would either have to work full time or change career because she found the pressure to balance everything too much. She had gone back to work full time when her daughter was born six years ago. After she started school in 2010 she went part time, working from 9.30am to 2.30pm. However, she ended up doing full time hours in a part-time job.
“I realised I had to do something different – either go back to full time or change career,” she says.
“When I went back to work when she was 14 months old she was in nursery full time, but it was much harder when she was in school, putting her in after school club and holiday clubs. She enjoyed them. It was me who felt I was missing out,” she says.
“I wanted to find something I could do that meant I could drop her off and pick her up and be there in the holidays while still making money.”
Creation Station stood out for her when she looked on the Workingmums.co.uk site. She can take her daughter to the classes she gives in the holidays. “My daughter loves arts and crafts and is really excited about it. We have done a few sessions at home and she has led one with her dolls,” says Angela who is based in Gateshead. “She's really looking forward to me coming back with all the kit.”
She did her research thoroughly on Creation Station, whose franchise packages cost £5,995+vat, and says the more she found out about it the more excited she became.
She says the three-day training, which followed a discovery morning where she got to find out more about the franchise, has been very thorough. “I can see what I will be doing and where I can go with the business,” she says.
Angela, who considered going into teaching but felt it would not give her the work life balance she needed, says the Creation Station franchise team are very welcoming and encouraging. She knows she will feel a bit nervous when she gives her first class, but is going to practise on friends beforehand.
Annie Vigal also found out about Creation Station through Workingmums.co.uk. She says she didn't really know what a franchise was until she clicked on the Franchise Zone page by accident and came across Creation Station. “It jumped right out at me,” she says.
Annie, who is from Cornwall, used to work in a recycling company. She had been full time and ran a fleet of lorries doing waste removal and was doing skip hire in Cornwall and Devon, but she went part time after her first daughter Poppy was born three and a half years ago. Since then she had been working doing mainly administrative work until she went on maternity leave with her second daughter Kitty who was born 11 months ago. She decided she didn't want to go back because the kind of work she was doing part time was unchallenging. “I wanted to do something creative and something I could do without having to put Kitty into childcare,” she says.
“Creation Station was perfect for me as I can bring Kitty to classes with me and Poppy can come too when she is not at preschool. After the discovery meeting I fell in love with the ethos of Creation Station and with the people. It's like a real family,” she says. “I felt really welcome.”
Annie, who has worked in art galleries in the past and loves doing arts and crafts with her children, says she is really inspired by the training days to get going with her business. She adds that the franchise provides “amazing ongoing support”, including regular conference calls. The training included how to do accounts and the administrative side of the business, the main aspects she was unsure of. She adds that she has been a volunteer at children's centres in her area and has a good network of contacts to start setting up classes. She already has some people lined up.
Nicki Lee, franchise manager of Creation Station, says franchisees come from all walks of life. Some are teachers, another was in the pub trade, others have no professional training.
She adds that many have come through Workingmums.co.uk which she says is one of the franchise's main advertising sites. “We've had a very good response in January considering most people are trying to save money in January. It's also a time, though, when people are thinking of making a new start,” she says, adding that she is always looking for more potential franchisees.