My place to belong.....
20 May 2016
As a drama school graduate who trained in the leafy, home county suburb of Guildford, the move to London to "seek my fortune" was a daunting one... especially in the often precarious world of acting!
I was lucky enough to have an acting job at the time, but then came that day when the show closed and the rent had to be paid. Having spotted an advert in The Stage newspaper, I could see that a company called Jigsaw were looking for teachers. Having done some teaching back home in Bournemouth before drama school, I applied; and I got a job! My first term at Jigsaw was back in 2001. I worked as a drama teacher on Saturday afternoons in Hendon and I absolutely loved it. Some of the kids in those classes are now in the Jigsaw hall of fame, one of which has been on a similar journey to me!
Skip forward a few years to 2009. Having worked on and off for Jigsaw in between acting jobs I approached Nicola and suggested setting up a pre-school performing arts class. This was something I had gained experienced in through other freelance work but I felt that pre-school classes at Jigsaw could be new and different. As a result of that conversation, Jigsaw Jumpers was born, and the joy of Jigsaw was now available to the under 3s. This was a brilliant experience for me as well as a massive learning curve.
During our development of Jumpers, Nicola and I enjoyed a strong working relationship and this led me to becoming Jigsaw’s General Manager in Summer 2009. I am very proud my time as General Manager and amongst my many personal highlights, the managing of our Ilford and Finchley schools and the recent creation of JigBase have been some of the standout achievements of the last decade.
Jigbase, the development of which I oversaw, now provides our customers with an easy to use online booking system. This is the first of its kind for UK based performing arts schools and it acts as an immediate resource, register and admin system for all of our managers and head office team. It also enables us to provide efficient service and an even safer environment for our students; JigBase became an integral part of the company as we began to offer franchise opportunities.
After being heavily involved in our drive towards franchising, I could see an opportunity for myself to take my love of the performing arts and my love of Jigsaw to something I could call my own with the support and expertise of the company I love so dearly – and so earlier this year I became the franchisee of Jigsaw Broxbourne and Jigsaw Ware.
Becoming a franchisee is probably one of the most exciting things I have ever done. My schools give me so much pleasure, as not only do I gain a good income for what is effectively a part-time role,I also have the pleasure of overseeing my own Jigsaw classes with the extraordinary backing of our skilled and knowledgeable head office team. As part of a wider network we create the opportunity for children of all ages to explore and enjoy the performing arts, and this in turn has led to us providing a place to belong for so many students across a wide array of locations. To adopt an old cliché, it really doesn’t feel like a job as I get so much enjoyment and satisfaction from what I do -– the fact there is profit at the end of the year is just a bonus!
Alongside this, my connection with Jigsaw and the Jigsaw Jumpers project means that I hope to bring more exciting income streams and projects to our franchise network in the future. It is a pleasure to have had Jigsaw in my life for over 15 years and I cannot wait for the next 15 years to unfold.
Whilst I had the background in Jigsaw to make my transition to becoming a franchisee a relatively straightforward one, with the extensive training, resources and the support given to you as a franchisee, as long as you have a passion for working with children and performing arts, anyone can succeed. The joy of Jigsaw’s franchise model is that you are guided and supported every step of the way and you can benefit from all the knowledge of a company that has already been through and developed tried and tested systems. This means that you can spend your time concentrating on the things that Jigsaw knows will work for you.
The best thing about Jigsaw is its community; it really is a family – and one which is approachable and friendly - so do pop in to have a chat with us at our next Open Day! There is no obligation, but if you are an ex-performer feeling that "end of the job" feeling I felt all those years ago, or even a parent who cannot bear the thought of going back to that 9-5 job, or perhaps you’re someone who simply wants a proven business opportunity: come and meet with us... you too could find your very own place to belong...