Razzamataz Case Study – Denise Hutton-Gosney

This is the very first of a series of features where we look at people within the Razzamataz family.
We begin with none other than director and founder, Denise Hutton-Gosney.

Denise Hutton-Gosney

I was a very shy child but I loved to dance, competing in lots of disco dancing competitions. When I left school, I worked as a professional dancer performing in summer seasons, cruise ships, pantomimes, European and UK tours, the Millennium Dome and the London Palladium. Although I sailed through the dance part of the auditions, I was completely lacking in confidence in drama and singing, so I really wanted to offer a place for children to experience all types of performing arts to not only make them more rounded performers but to also boost their confidence. Being a shy child, the one thing that helped me was performing and I wanted to make this more accessible to more children. In the beginning, I moved around the country myself, first setting up several Razzamataz schools in Cumbria, Paisley, Dumfries and Galloway. It was hard graft with long hours but as word spread, I had more and more students wanting to join. The only way to cater for them all was to open more schools and initially my franchisees were dancer friends of mine who wanted more financial security and the career growth which comes from owning a theatre school. It was appearing on Dragons’ Den in 2007 that really brought Razzamataz into the spotlight and many of my new franchisees now still remember the episode I featured on, where Duncan Bannatyne offered the full investment.

Pinch me moments
When you run a business, life is busy and you don’t often stop to look back at what you’ve achieved. But when I slow down for five minutes, it really is incredible how far we’ve come. There are so many amazing moments, starting from my appearance on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, through to our partnerships with First Choice and now Eurocamp and of course all the wonderful opportunities for our students including performing at Her Majesty’s Theatre in the West End, seeing our students appear professionally on stage and screen, amazing workshops with street dance crew Diversity, creating our Future Fund charity to support students going to college and our latest opportunities to perform at the 02 and Disneyland Paris.

Denise and investor Duncan Bannatyne

The challenges
I’m like every other working mum and running a business combined with looking after my two young boys can be challenging at times. Earlier on in the year, my youngest son Lewis who has just turned three, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I have a great team around me so I’ve managed to learn how to care for him while juggling the demands of work. We hold regular support calls with our franchisees and we talk about the challenges we all face in business and sometimes just sharing them can have a positive effect.

Proudest achievements
As a franchisor, I’m probably most proud of our network of wonderful franchisees and I’m delighted that I’ve created a business where individuals can flourish and launch their own successful theatre schools. We have a huge range of franchisees, from young graduates to a granny of five. Our most successful Principals are reaping the financial benefits as well with a six-figure annual turnover. Razzamataz has also created rewarding careers for parents who combine looking after their children with running their own business. The setup of the schools allows them to take off every school holiday too, a huge saving on childcare also. It has also been wonderful (although makes me feel a bit old!) that a former student turned into a teacher and is now a successful Razzamataz Principal! That really is full circle.

Future plans
The sky’s the limit! We have had lots of incredible partnerships in the last few years and we have more in the pipeline but unfortunately, it’s under wraps for now! We will continue to grow but focus on always providing the very best performing arts training to our students and making sure our customer service is top class. Parents are entrusting their children with us and we know what an important and special job we have.

Top tips

  1. Say yes more often – I’ve done things that really scare me and that were way out of my comfort zone but those are the things that get you success.
  2. Ask for help – being part of a franchise is wonderful to have such a helpful network of franchisees so make the most of it. The franchisees at Razzamataz are an incredible bunch and I learn from them all the time.
  3. Don’t give up – business can sometimes feel like a bit of a slog, especially in the early days. But keep going and each week you will get a little breakthrough.
  4. Celebrate success – we love to celebrate our franchisees, teachers and students’ success but don’t forget to celebrate your own. Brits can be a little shy about this but you’ve worked hard for it so enjoy it!
  5. Find something you love – every job has its stressful moments but I can honestly say that I love what I do. We get so many wonderful testimonials from students and their families about the positive impact that Razzamataz has had on them that I feel very privileged to be in the position that I am.

Did you know
In the Smith & Henderson survey, Razzamataz Theatre Schools was scored so highly by their own franchisees that they joined a group of elite franchisors and have received a 5 Star Franchise Satisfaction Award.
For your peace of mind, Razzamataz are also members of the bfa, an organisation that promotes and accredits excellence in franchising.

Join the team
Do you want to be part of the successful Razzamataz network, where you can combine a rewarding career with flexible work pattern? Come along to one of our regular Discovery Den days to find out more.
To have an informal chat, speak to our Franchisee Recruitment Manager Suzie McCafferty on Email: [email protected] or call 07793 054 233.

Denise and Razzamataz Principals at the annual Conference