At the age of 11, Lauren Kirkbride was to experience a defining moment. She joined Razzamataz Theatre Schools as a student and made the decision that performing arts was something that she wanted to do throughout her life.
"I had attended dance lessons before but it was only when I joined Razzamataz Carlisle that I got the opportunity to perform in large scale productions. It was such a highlight of the year for me and my teachers really inspired me to think about performing arts as a career."
After sixth form, Lauren went on to a degree course in Dance Studies at Liverpool University where she gained a first class degree. Throughout her time as a student, she had come to learn that her passion lay in teaching. One of her initial jobs came through Razzamataz as a teacher at the First Choice resorts overseas in 2011 and 2012. She then went on to teach at Razzamataz Penrith followed by Razzamataz Carlisle where she still teaches today. In September 2015, Lauren got the opportunity to take over the Penrith school.
"It was definitely challenging at the beginning but I was ready for the next step in my career. It was a big jump and I knew that it would require a different skill set but I had just finished university and the time felt right to branch out of my comfort zone."
In the beginning, learning the fundamentals of business and getting to understand the financial side was tricky but with the support of the network, Lauren soon got to grips with it.
"It helped that I’m organised and I also had a lot of support from the team at Head Office and the other franchisees. There are elements in business that I find challenging but the training we received together with the resources on offer helped to keep me on track. If I’m ever unsure of anything, there is always someone at Head Office I can speak to."
Becoming a business owner has allowed Lauren to do things that she never thought possible.
"I love the flexibility and creativity that being a Principal brings with it. Initially I had reservations about taking over at Penrith because it was a hugely successful school so I had big shoes to fill. But I’ve actually surprised myself and have achieved things since I opened that I never thought possible."
One of the most appealing elements of running a theatre school is having creative freedom and knowing that two days will never be the same.
"I am incredibly proud of what my students are achieving, both professionally and within the school. My ambition is to keep building on what we currently have, offer more amazing opportunities such as performing in Disneyland Paris in November and offering new classes such as Razz Tots for two- and three-year olds, which we have recently launched."
Since becoming the Principal of Razzamataz Penrith, Lauren has never looked back and is thoroughly enjoying her journey from student to teacher to Principal.
"For other people considering becoming a Razzamataz franchisee I would say go for it! You need to be prepared for a lot of hard work but you get so much support from the network and all the benefits of working for yourself."
Many people have have found a rewarding long term career through franchising with Razzamataz Theatre Schools.
Razzamataz Theatre Schools franchise, with almost 50 schools throughout the UK, has many retired performers as Principals.
Nick Furlong and Gemma Hextall bought Razzamataz Sutton Coldfield in June 2015.
Jessica Chandler Smith has seen her Razzamataz franchise in Brentwood achieve huge success in just a few short weeks.
The new Principals at Razzamataz are all set for their September openings after completing a week long extensive training session.
Shanley Booth launched Razzamataz Derby in 2007 and has renewed her franchise agreement for a further five years.
Michael French launched Razzamataz Barnet in April 2012 and has recently renewed his franchise agreement for a further five years.
Debbi Ledwith, Principal of Razzamataz Newbury, launched her school to allow her to spend more time with her three children.
Proving that age is really just a number, Pam Dixon, has run her Razzamataz Theatre Schools franchise since 2008.
Charlotte Young, the Principal of Razzamataz West Cumbria first became a franchisee in October 2006.
The Razzamataz Theatre Schools network continues to grow with the launch of two new London schools as well as a school in the North East.
At Razzamataz's recent training week, three new franchisees who have bought franchise re-sales, joined the franchisees who are launching in new territories.
Razzamataz have a number of franchisees who are either former teachers or combining part-time teaching with being a Razzamataz franchisee.
Buying into a franchise is an excellent way to begin running your own business. You have all the benefits of working for yourself but the added support and proven success of a well established and recognised brand. For a person new to business, it is ideal.Helen Green, Razzamataz Sheffield
I specifically wanted to go for a franchise, and in particular Razzamataz because of the support from Head Office and other Principals. This is a network of theatre school owners so you are in business for yourself but not by yourself.Alison Beveridge, Razzamataz Durham.
I don’t have a business background so after deciding to retire from professionally performing it was the memories of Razzamataz on Dragons’ Den that set the wheels in motion. I was really inspired by the brand and the business model and because it is a franchise business we receive a lot of help and support from Head Office as well as on-going training so I can make Razzamataz Barnet the success that I believe it can be. In the last 12 months, I have doubled my student numbers in a very competitive market and I have now clear plans on how I would like my business to progress this year.Michael French, Razzamataz Barnet
TWO franchises for the price of ONE!
One of Dragons Den most successful investments!
Affordable part time performing arts lessons