Helen is a graduate of the Cumbrian Institute of the Arts in Carlisle, achieving a joint honors degree in drama and musical theatre.
I always wanted to be a professional performer but in my second year of University I started to teach at Razzamataz and just fell in love with teaching. I decided that I didn’t want to move to London and audition and because I loved working with children, I toyed with the idea of becoming a primary teacher or setting up my own Theatre In Education group but neither option really excited me that much. Initially I didn’t want to open my own theatre school because it seemed like too much of an obvious choice but when it came down to it, it was really the only thing I felt passionate about.
I combined launching Razzamataz Sheffield with continuing to teach for another Razzamataz school and working in Head Office. It was very challenging initially having to teach, drive back at night to Sheffield to market the school and then return to Carlisle to work at Head Office. I pretty much worked flat out for two years but it allowed me to see incredible growth in my school. I opened in September 2012 and currently have 370 students.
I’ve now got Razzamataz Sheffield to a place where I can take time off and still be financially OK. I’m expecting my first baby very shortly and I know that I can take off a full term and then return to work on a part-time basis. The business allows me to support myself as well as a large team including an assistant Principal. It is amazing to know that I never have to work a full week again if I don’t want to. I love my job but have learnt that it is also important to delegate and I’m excited to combine being a parent with running my own business. It’s all about creating the right balance and Razzamataz has allowed me to do that.
Pinch me moments
I remember watching our recent guest workshop with Ashley Banjo from street dance crew Diversity and being a little blown away. It was an incredible moment and I loved watching how the students responded to him. We also have the amazing opportunity to perform at Disneyland Paris soon and I know that is going to be incredibly special. As well as these high-profile opportunities, I’m also very proud when I see our students perform locally in Sheffield. They recently did a parade in the town centre, it was raining and a bit cold but that didn’t put them off. It’s the little and big moments that are equally wonderful.
Every year there has been something amazing. In the early days, it was when we reached a milestone in our student numbers. We were on 50 students on day one and then 100 by the end of the first year, which was just incredible. I had to keep readjusting my goals because we kept smashing them earlier than I thought possible. I’m very proud to have been awarded the Most Outstanding School in our annual Conference for the last three years but it is probably on show day when I feel the most satisfaction. The annual shows take a lot of organising and planning for our whole team, but when you watch the children on stage and see how happy the parents and family are in the audience, you really feel like you have created something very special.
We do have a good structure in place but I’m excited to continue to work on this and create a smarter working environment. The goals for the school are to continue to create more unique opportunities every term. We have Disney to look forward to as well as performing at London’s iconic indigo at the 02. I’m constantly looking for fresh and exciting opportunities for our students to make sure they receive consistently high levels of performing arts training.
I love running my own Razzamataz school and enjoy the lifestyle that it has given me. I would say to others to not underestimate the time and effort you have to put in to be successful, especially in the early days. I did two years of consistent work and marketing until I was in the position to be able to afford to outsource some of the work. Although hard work is important, it is also imperative that you take some time out to recharge and come back with more energy and enthusiasm. Even today, I will take every opportunity that is available to me and my students to grow my business and create the best theatre school for my students and team.
Contact Helen to enquire about availability at Razzamataz Sheffield by calling 0114 3030 455/ 07979 189177 or emailing: [email protected]
Find out how to be a Principal of your own theatre school by contacting Suzie McCafferty on E:[email protected] or call 07793 054 233.