I own Diddi Dance which I started in 2003 when, as a teacher of dance, I realised a gap existed in the dancing arena that gave opportunities for children as young as 18 months old to join a structured, fun, action packed dancing class of varying styles.
I knew that Ballet was available through other companies, but I didn’t want to segregate boys or taste at that age so created a class all kids could come to and enjoy regardless of age, gender or interest. I also saw that even though there were classes for pre-school children that had dance in them, there was nothing just devoted to dance.
Diddi Dance currently has 16 different dance styles the children explore in a 45-minute session. We also run parties and nursery classes.
I decided to franchise the business, allowing mums/ex-dancers/ex-business employees to take on a business of their own but with the support of myself and my Head Office team. With full training and ongoing support, we like to think of Diddi Dance as a business for yourself but not by yourself. We are pleased with how many franchisees we have and that we continue to grow as the demand for more classes across the UK grows. One of the main purposes of Diddi Dance, and why it is a franchised business, is so that all Diddi Dance franchisees are active in their communities. Most franchisees run the majority of their classes so are the face customers see on a weekly basis and continually interact with. From doing fêtes and fairs to volunteering at charity events Diddi Dance franchisees are known throughout their areas, even if just as Diddi Dance and not by their name, and to some are local celebrities.
I came from a dance background. After attending the London Contemporary Dance School and then graduating with a degree (BPA) in dance from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, I danced professionally for ten years before going on to teach children of all ages and abilities in a variety of dance styles & performance techniques. In my dancing days, I performed in London based contemporary dance companies, pop videos for artists such as Bryan Adams & Ash, on TV at the Brit Awards & Top of the Pops, in corporate shows and on tours.
Coming from a very experienced dance background I used my knowledge of dance to create Diddi Dance. The class structure itself is modelled after an adult dance class – from warm up to cool down. As well as creating the syllabus, I have researched, choreographed and developed the music for each style so that they are all as relevant and appropriate as possible. I have been developing the programme for over 13 years now, trying to find the perfect ways to encourage pre-school children as young as 16 months (along with their parents/carers) to build confidence & stamina and to improve their rhythm & coordination through fun dancing games & exercises.
As well as being Managing Director and the Founder of the Diddi Dance franchising company I also runs a very successful franchise myself in South East London. I feel that the best way to be a franchisor of a successful business is to still be involved in the development of it in all day-to-day aspects. If a franchisee comes to me with a problem I feel comfortable helping to fix it as I may have had the exact same problem as well.
On top of running both Diddi Dance the franchising company and my own Diddi Dance franchise, I also have two children, Bobby who is 9 and Lily who is 5. I still teach some classes and do admin work around school runs and activities. Sometimes my work days never end, but I don’t complain because I am doing what I love and running a successful business that makes other people, mainly children, incredibly happy.
One piece of advice I would give when starting your own business is research, and ask for advice. Check trademarks, copyrights and legal documents…everything! The worst thing you can do is invest a lot of time and money into a business only to find out that your company name conflicts with another, the idea encroaches on a copyright or you haven’t accurately got your legals in line. Work with a business consultant to help you learn all you need to and get your business to where it needs to be. And don’t rush things, I’ve never been a fan of running before I could walk. With no business qualifications, I wanted to get it right.
Also, passion! Make sure you are passionate about the business you want to start so that you enjoy working on it every day. Because dance has been in my life for as long as I can remember, Diddi Dance now allows me to continue with my passion even though my performing days might be behind me.
I have loved seeing a dream become a reality – a small one-off class grow and develop into something beyond my expectations. The fact that, to this day, classes continue to open and fill up shows that Diddi Dance has done something right and made something that our customers, children and adults alike, love to come to. On the franchise side of things, it is great being able to offer a flexible business opportunity to others to help their work/life balance. I started Diddi Dance to offer myself a flexible schedule when I was still dancing professionally, but also because I knew a family would eventually be in my future. To now have new mums coming on board and being able to spend time with their families as well as running their own business makes me thrilled to know I helped make that happen.