By Fiona Simpson, Founder and MD of ARTventurers – Finalist “Small Business of the Year”
The story of how and why I set up ARTventurers is probably a familiar one for lots of female business owners – my own two children Erin and Isaac (then a baby and a toddler) were the inspiration behind my business idea and I was also driven by the desire to work flexibly around them, desperate to be around as much as possible when they were small and to take them to school every day and pick them up at the end of the school day.
Fast forward - my own ARTventurers are now 11 and 9 and what a journey it’s been! I count myself hugely lucky that I achieved my aim of creating a fun, flexible work opportunity for myself and my family – and what’s amazing now is that through franchising I am now able to help others to do the same.
For those who don’t know, at ARTventurers we run colourful, creative art classes for babies, toddlers and children, plus creative events and parties too. Although inevitably there is an element of mess in what we do (try painting with a group of toddlers and NOT getting messy!!) we’re much more than a messy play group. Our classes are centred around children’s learning and development through art and creative play – building confidence, developing skills, exploring techniques and new materials and having lots of fun along the way! We squidge, squish, paint, model, explore, sing and dance our way through a new theme every week and take the ARTventurers fun into schools and nurseries, work with local authorities, shopping centres, and other businesses and organisations too!
The last couple of years have been really crazy for ARTventurers as we started to expand through franchising. It’s a REALLY scary step taking your business which is to all intents and purposes your “baby” and opening it up to other people to operate under your brand and reputation and I’ll always be completely honest about what a very steep learning curve it’s been for me. However it’s also been an incredibly rewarding journey – the real key to the success of ARTventurers is our fabulous team of franchisees and we invest very heavily in support, training and mentoring for all of our franchisees throughout every stage of their business journey. I really love that part of my day to day role now – catching up with our different branches across the country, helping our franchisees to grow and develop their own fun, flexible ARTventurers businesses and helping them to tackle any issues and problems as they arise. The great thing about joining any franchise business should be just that – you’re never alone and it’s invaluable to have a knowledgeable, experienced and supportive team behind you cheering you on every step of the way!
With over 20 branches of ARTventurers across the UK, one in the US and more opening across the country in the next couple of months, it’s a really exciting time for us at ARTventurers HQ and for all of the franchise team. Maddie joined us to open a branch of ARTventurers in her own local area last summer and is the proud owner of ARTventurers Leamington Spa, Central Warwickshire and Coventry :
We were thrilled to be shortlisted in the Small Business of the Year Category in the Networking Mummies Awards, recognising our hard work, brand growth and achievements in our industry and did a little happy dance in the ARTventurers office when we found out! Both Maddie and I are really looking forward to the awards ceremony and spending the evening alongside some really inspirational businesses.
You can find out more about ARTventurers and how to join in the ARTventurers fun at www.artventurers.co.uk . And if you’d like to find out more about Maddie’s branch ARTventurers Leamington Spa, Central Warwickshire and Coventry then pop over to www.artventurers.co.uk/leamington