Helen Bell, 30, lives in Sheffield. A Young entrepreneur who launched Razzamataz Sheffield in 2012.
Q. How did you hear about Razzamataz?
Helen: I first heard of Razzamataz though a friend who had completed the TUI (First Choice) contract on 2008. He mentioned that some of the schools in Cumbria were looking for a singing teacher so I emailed Denise and was lucky enough to get the job. Throughout my degree I worked in Dumfries, Whitehaven, Penrith, Durham & Carlisle and upon graduating got a job at Head Office. I have been with Razzamataz for 10 years now.
Q. What is your background in performing arts?
Helen: I always wanted to be a professional performer but in my second year of University I started to teach at Razzamataz and just feel 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.
Q. What have the challenges been for you?
Helen: 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 over 400 students.
Q. What have the benefits been for you as a Franchisee?
Helen: I’ve now got Razzamataz Sheffield to a place where I can take time off and still be financially OK. I became a mum 18 months ago and I knew that I could 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.
Q. Can you tell us some ‘pinch me’ moments of being a Principal?
Helen: I remember watching our 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 again 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.
Q. What are your proudest moments?
Helen: 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 three consecutive 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.
Q. What would your top tips be for anyone wishing to buy a Razzamataz Franchise?
Helen: 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.