Post By Sam Petter, Tatty Bumpkin
‘More than mummies’ is such a good phrase for those of us who have had children, and in the past have had careers – you don’t stop being you, just because you are a mum now too.
12 years ago I was at a crossroads, had just had my son (against the odds) and come through a fairly gruelling period where having a child was the entire focus. At the time I was working as a yoga teacher, and freelance interactive designer in London, and just managing to hold onto the job and the pregnancy.
Once I had my son, I was faced with that exact question – “how can I work (ideally from home) around my new family?” I was going to different classes with him, and enjoying the time together, but felt that there was an opportunity to develop a class that was creative and holistic. Inspired by my yoga and design background I came up with Tatty Bumpkin. Tatty Bumpkin is a character, and was ideal to represent my ideas and communicate them to children. Initially I got a social enterprise award for the model helping mums back to work, and helped lots of women to run part-time classes in their local area.
As time moved on, I started to look at the franchise model for growing the business. Franchising to me had been associated with the corporate world and not at all in keeping with either yoga or children, but the more I got to know about it, the more I could see it made sense. Franchising is basically taking a successful business model, and making it replicable in other areas – so the inventor of the idea is the franchisor, and the individual businesses the franchisees. The franchisor makes sure all the materials and business practices are up to date, and provides everything needed to mirror the successful business. The more the franchisee grows the business, the more the franchisor grows and vice versa, so it’s a really good foundation for a working relationship. There is an upfront initial cost, usually for a geographical territory, and the franchisee agrees to adhere to the initial legal agreement whilst paying an ongoing royalty as a percentage of their earnings, but has the security of knowing there is a larger umbrella brand there to support them.
In the past franchising has been male dominated – and still is… but all of our franchisees though are women and 98% have families. We are part of an organization called EWIF (Encouraging Women Into Franchising) that is looking to support women in flexible work through franchising. Almost all of our franchisees were looking for flexible work, and almost all of them were NOT looking for a franchise, but now I would say they have found the model revelatory. There are lots of really family-friendly franchises out there now and growing all the time. It means you can have your own business and flexibility, but not have to have all the startup costs and time involved to get going, you literally hit the ground running. If you have a great idea and the skills, then there is nothing like starting your business from scratch, but if you want to run a business without the stress of starting one yourself, then there are so many franchises to look at – and when you are ready to move on, then you can sell your franchise and existing business, funding the next phase of your life, so not only does it provide an income, but the sum invested is a capital investment.
I know people – women especially are wary of the word ‘franchise’ and I still don’t like it, but I like what it offers and I am really passionate about promoting any way to help women have a family whilst still keeping something back for themselves. We are a case study for ICSF – the International Centre for Social Franchising, proving that you can do business and have a positive social and environmental impact at the same time. I’m proud of our franchisees and how far they have come in running their own businesses – often something they never thought they could do.
Our network ranges from prison wardens, models, Doctors of biology, Business women, Teachers, Mums…. And all have found the solution of how to work flexibly, have a family and be more than just ‘mum’.
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