Virginia Martin has two supremely confident, stage-struck small daughters and a satisfying business that fits perfectly around family life thanks to Jo Jingles.
Virginia Martin has two supremely confident, stage-struck small daughters and a satisfying business that fits perfectly around family life, thanks to Jo Jingles, the music, singing and movement group.
Virginia took on the franchise for Jo Jingles Stroud ten years ago, when she was expecting her second child and was starting to realise that her career in human resources would not allow her to spend enough time with her children. Long term, she knew it would be particularly problematic during school holidays.
After a management training course with Marks and Spencer, Virginia worked for a telecoms company in Swindon, handling management training for the human resources department. After her first daughter was born she went back to work part time but found it increasingly hard to cope with long hours and foreign travel that the job entailed.
When she was on maternity leave after having her second daughter she was starting to think that about a change of career but wasn’t entirely sure what she could do instead.
A friend who lived in Cheltenham rang to tell Virginia that she must come along to the local Jo Jingles class because it was 'so fantastic'. Virginia phoned Jo Jingles Head Office to find out if there was a class nearer to her and discovered the Stroud franchise was available. Having received the full franchise information pack Virginia set about finding out some more about Jo Jingles and visited the Cheltenham class as well as others in the vicinity. She discovered that her friend’s enthusiasm was justified and was particularly impressed with the structure of the classes, which let the children progress with classes that were age-specific and included songs and activities that were appropriate to their age group.
The switch from management training to music and movement for tots was not such a surprising progression for Virginia, as it may at first seem. Though Virginal had no particular musical background, music was definitely in her blood and was she had a latent talent there waiting to be utilised.
"My family is extremely musical," Virginia explains. "My Granny was in music hall, my mum was an accomplished pianist and I have a rock chick aunty."
That said, Virginia was worried her own musical credentials would not be sufficient and set out to bring them up to scratch.
"I knew the presenting I had done in my previous job meant I would have no problem leading a class and my management training background meant I knew how to manage accounting and business administration," explains Virginia. "What worried me was that I would not be able to sing well enough."
So Virginia contacted a singing teacher and embarked on a year of singing lessons. "It was quite funny," remembers Virginia. "My singing teacher was used to schooling her students through arias and choral pieces and there was I wanting to sing 'Baa Baa Black Sheep'."
But the singing teacher convinced Virginia that she could sing well and gave Virginia the confidence to take on the Jo Jingles franchise.
She now runs classes across Stroud, Cirencester, Cheltenham and Gloucester, with one class teacher working for her. The two of them lead 22 classes a week, which involves Virginia teaching for 11 hours and doing an additional eight hours admin.
"I arrange it exactly as I want and to fit around my daughters and family," says Virginia. "I work it all around school drop off and pick up and predominantly during term time, so it works perfectly."
Her daughters have benefited from the classes in more ways than just having their mum around when they come home from school and during holidays. They came to the classes and when Virginia was starting out she used to practice with them.
"I ran through my lesson plan on a Sunday morning, with my daughters, husband and dog as my trial audience," Virginia says. "I am certain that it is a result of their experience of Jo Jingles that my daughters are extraordinarily confident and musical. My oldest daughter was keen to learn an instrument and is playing cello and piano even though she is only seven and my little five year old is passionate about singing and performing and attends regular drama classes too."
Jo Jingles has proved an ideal business for Virginia’s family in every way.
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Each franchisee receives an initial training course and benefits from annual conferences and workshops. More importantly, both Head Office and other franchisees are in constant contact so there is never a problem that has to be faced on your own. The level of support and intervention is different with all franchises but I think Jo Jingles have got the balance just right – help and guidance ensuring an excellent, high quality brand without stifling our entrepreneurial spirit!Eve Kay, Stafford