Debutots- Imagination Takes You Everywhere
We love learning more about local mums and mumpreneurs, and we caught up recently with Jennifer David who runs the fabulous Debutots classes in North London.
If you haven't had the chance to experience them, Debutots classes involve unique interactive storytelling and dramatic play for children aged 6 months to 7 years in a variety of settings. The classes are a great way to develop communication skills, increase confidence, improve listening skills, as well as encourage imaginative play. They also aim to nurture a lifelong love of stories.
Jennifer bought the Debutots franchise, which covers a large area in North London (including Muswell Hill, Finchley and Hampstead), in 2007. She had always wanted to run her own business and always loved working with young children, so when she discovered Debutots during an internet search for franchises, in her words "it sounded perfect". Jennifer is a drama school graduate, with a wide variety of acting and teaching experience, and already had 2 young children aged 8 months and 2.5. She went to meet Debutots’ founders for an ‘Experience Day’ and fell in love with the classes instantly. She admits that she was a bit naïve and just let her excitement and conviction in the classes make her decide to go ahead with becoming a franchisee (ie rather than doing any market research!), but it turned out to be an excellent investment, both on a personal and business level. Jennifer now offers nearly 30 classes running a week, many of which are full and with a waiting list, and employs 3 practitioners.
"I genuinely enjoy running the classes and business more and more each year", says Jennifer, " I love working with babies and children. All they really want is to be entertained, learn about the magical world they live in and have fun in a secure and nurturing environment, and it’s great to spend my working hours in their company!"
Jennifer says that she has also met some amazing mums, dads, nannies and grandparents. Since siblings from the same families usually end up coming to the classes when they are old enough, she has been in regular contact with some of the same families for years.
Of course, setting up your own business has its challenges. Initially these were building up classes from a blank timetable, building up a reputation when Debutots was completely new to the area, getting used to working (doing all the admin) in the evenings (something many working mums can relate to!). Over time Jennifer had to take the plunge of recruiting and putting her faith in practitioners when she'd reached my limit on the number of classes she could run personally.
But Jennifer seems to have achieved a great work life balance: "Debutots fits in perfectly with my family life, and I’ve managed to fit in another child along the way! They’re now aged 8, 6 and 2. Unless it’s a party or a holiday workshop, nearly all of my classes are during school hours and term times so I can take the kids to school or nursery, go to work, pick them up, spend time with them, and then get on with the admin in the evenings. It can be tiring working once they’re in bed, but I wouldn’t have it any other way."
Debutots classes take place in independent venues for parents/carers and their little ones, as well as in nurseries and Children’s Centres, plus there are lunchtime and after-school clubs at schools, and birthday parties and holiday workshops. In addition, Debutots has recently introduced very popular one-off sessions for adults, both childcare professionals and parents, to improve their storytelling skills. For more information, head to the.
Here are some testimonials from some happy (including some celebrity!) customers:
‘I have never seen my child enjoy a class quite so much as his Debutots class with Jennifer, I also have never seen a teacher so inspirational and engaging to children of such a young age. She is a marvel and if we could attend a class every day we would.’ Edith Bowman, mum to Rudy
‘Thanks again for organising such a brilliant summer camp. My two loved it. As soon as we arrived home, Ava said, 'I really miss drama'. You created an environment where they felt very nurtured and did all of their favourite activities.’ Jenni, mum to Ava (6) and Aaron (4).