Our story so far…..
Razzamataz Theatre Schools was created with a simple dream, to make performing arts available to all young people no matter their background or circumstances. We want to give children everywhere the chance to attend classes taught by experienced performers, who can give them the perfect introduction to the most wonderful industry in the world. This was the vision of our founder Denise Hutton-Gosney who believed in Razzamataz from day one of its opening in 2000. Here she shares her story and what continues to drive her passion for her business. This includes her support of franchisees and of course the thousands of young people whose life is changed through attending Razzamataz schools across the country.
I was born in Renfrew, Scotland in 1972. I was the youngest of four children and money was very tight. I was a very shy child, but I loved to dance and although it was a stretch financially for me to attend dancing classes, my parents often went without, so I could continue my passion, which included competing in lots of disco dancing competitions. Some of the most memorable moments from dancing as a child include performing on Saturday Superstore Search for a Superstar!, winning European Dance Champion and being selected for the World Finals and winning the ‘Classique De Dance’ Award.
Hear Denise talk about growing up in Renfrew
When I left school, I worked as a professional dancer performing in summer seasons, luxury cruise ships, pantomimes, the London Palladium, European and UK tours and training to be a trapeze artist as part of The Millennium Dome, now known as the 02. After my career as a dancer, I knew I always wanted to stay within the performing arts industry, so I opened the first Razzamataz Theatre School in 2000. The idea was to create a place where children and young people could be nurtured and supported through performing arts. I was hugely ambitious so when the opportunity came to appear on BBC’s Dragons’ Den in January 2007, I jumped on it and that pushed my business to new heights after Duncan Bannatyne offered me the full investment.
Hear Denise talk about appearing on Dragons’ Den
As a woman in business, not having gone to university and coming from a very working-class background, I’ve definitely faced many obstacles. When I speak to our new franchisees joining the network, I still very much relate to some of the struggles they have faced over imposter-syndrome or lack of confidence. But over the years, I’ve come to understand that what you most need in business is to be resilient. My journey has had highs and lows, I’ve taken risks and been through two major recessions but through each hurdle, I’ve learnt so much and as a company, we’ve always come out stronger. Here are just a few of the business achievements that I’m so proud of:
- Princes Trust Business Woman of The Year.
- Cumbria Business Woman of The Year.
- Finalists in multiple EWIF Awards.
- Winners in the WorkBuzz Best Franchise Awards.
- 5 Star Franchisee Satisfaction Award.
- Continuous Improvement Awards.
- British Franchise Association double award winner.
Hear Denise talk about her business success with Razzamataz:
Becoming a mum
I’ve always called the students my Razz Kids, as that is really how I think of them. However, I really wanted to be a mum but from the ages of 31 to 41, I lived with fertility issues including polycystic ovaries, several miscarriages and two rounds of IVF. This was all while growing the business and Duncan Bannatyne becoming an investor. I’m married to Jason and we are blessed to have two sons, Callum and Lewis. In 2016, Lewis who was just two, was diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening illness, type 1 diabetes. He has a very complicated care plan that has been difficult to manage but we are making good progress. I’m extremely committed to raising awareness about the huge challenges that come from being a SEN parent, which is why it is such a focus in our schools and why we also have many parents as franchisees. Our ethos is always to put people and family first; we have created Razzamataz so each franchisee can flexible work around their family. Of course, it is never easy to strike the perfect live/work/home balance but we do a pretty good job. That is why so many of our franchisees have been with us for more than ten years and the vast majority renew their franchise agreement every five years.
Hear Denise talk about her struggles to become a mum and being a SEN parent
Creating opportunities for children
Razzamataz gives a place for children and young people to develop who they are through performing arts. We have lots of students who are currently working professionally in the industry, in West End shows and in major films, but what makes Razzamataz unique is that in each school, the Principal creates a ‘Razz Family’. Each child is special and each child deserves the same opportunities. We help to create lasting memories for the student and their families by providing amazing opportunities to perform at a West End theatre, the 02 in London and Disneyland Paris. We also support children that want to take their performing arts to the next level by preparing them for college or university, giving current students the chance to audition for a talent agent and inviting professional performers from the West End and Broadway to deliver masterclasses.
Hear Denise talk about the success of some of Razzamataz’s students and the incredible shows they are starring in
When I was a young dancer, I had to drop out of performing arts college because I just couldn’t afford the fees. It has been my dream for a long time to help Razzamataz students fulfil their own performing aspirations. As a theatre school franchise, we are unique in that we have our own registered charity that gives back to young people and helps them to realise their ambitions of training in the arts. As a network we have raised over £35,000 since the founding of our registered charity, the Razzamataz Future Fund, giving financial assistance to former students going on to college. We were also the first part-time theatre school to offer scholarships in association with The Stage newspaper and personally I have raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity by putting on events, taking part in challenges and hosting garden parties.
Hear Denise talk about the thousands of pounds raised for charity
What success means to me
With twenty years of business behind me, this is something that I often get asked. As a brand, the ethos has always been to create exciting and profitable careers for franchisees that they can work flexibly around other commitments. Being a mum, especially to a child with additional medical needs, means that my business must be able to work around my lifestyle and it is so rewarding that through franchising, I can help other working parents find that live/work balance. Many of our franchisees have young children and some also have children that have complex additional needs, so the flexibility that we offer is vital for them to maintain a career without compromising their family time. Razzamataz is a network of franchisees from a wide range of backgrounds and it’s been a privilege that we have helped them have a career that is financially rewarding and within a sector that they are passionate about. When I opened my first Razzamataz school in a small theatre in Penrith in the Lake District, never could I have imagined that I would have franchisees being nominated and winning awards in one of the most prestigious franchising award events in the UK, the British Franchise Awards. Razzamataz Theatre Schools has changed my life, the life of many of my students and the lives of our franchisees. I would love to hear from people who share our passion and are interested in taking their first steps to open their own Razzamataz Theatre School.
Hear Denise talk about the privilege of being part of the successful journey of the Razzamataz franchisees
Contact our team today to start your journey: https://www.razzamataz.co.uk/franchise-opps/contact-us/