Christina Taylor-Chisolm, franchisor of Popolo Ceramico, plans to have a network of 50 UK franchises up and running
When and why did you set up Popolo Ceramico?
I set up Popolo Ceramico 10 years ago after the birth of my first child. I previously worked over 60 hours a week as an IT project manager, working at various locations around the UK, and I was often required to fly internationally at a moment’s notice.
After my daughter Lola was born, I wanted a career change that provided a much better work-life balance. I’m a creative person with a background in art and design and I love ceramics, so I rented space at my local pottery where I learnt my trade, working alongside some of the north east’s best potters. It was here Popolo Ceramico was created.
Tell us about the business
Popolo Ceramico is a mobile ceramics business that specialises in capturing baby and children’s hand and footprints in paint, clay and plaster. We also capture paw prints, host ceramic parties, host pop-up events and offer a vast array of personalised ceramics that can be purchased online. I wanted to create beautiful personalised ceramics that were not only superb quality but also extremely stylish too.
Why did you decide to franchise the concept?
Product demand was high and we were receiving more and more requests from customers outside of Newcastle. I knew I had a proven business model, awesome products and as the business grew I needed to grow with it.
I loved the job I’d created, as it fits in perfectly with modern family life. It means you can work flexibly, in a creative environment, taking all the school holidays off if you wanted to, while still earning a good income. I wanted to offer other creative people around the country the opportunity to do the same.
How much does it cost to become a franchisee and what do franchisees get for their money?
The initial fee for a franchise is £7,995. This includes a top of the range Nabertherm kiln; full training and ongoing support; a starter kit, which includes all the stock and materials required to get up and running; access to our shared drive, which includes training videos, marketing materials, photos and access to our group chats and franchisee support groups.
Franchisees also get their own page on our website and access to our wholesale site, plus, help with setting up all their social media.
Who’s your ideal franchisee?
We’re looking for hard-working, creative, organised people who desire a better work-life balance.
What’s the best thing about being your own boss?
I love the flexibility it gives me. On a sunny day, I could take my kids to the beach and finish work when they went to bed.
It also means I’ve been able to take my kids to school and pick them up every day, attend all their assemblies and sports days and be there to see them grow up.
What’s been your biggest challenge to date?
Ensuring the warehouse, wholesale site and all the infrastructure was in place when we started to scale up our franchise business.
How did it feel to win the NatWest EWIF New Woman Franchisor of the Year Award in 2019?
Absolutely amazing. Being recognised for all the hard work and long hours you put into building a successful franchise business was the most fantastic feeling in the world.
What advice would you give a younger you?
Don’t try and do it all yourself. If you plan on growing your business, ensure you have the right infrastructure and a good team in place to enable you to grow.
Where will your business be in five years’ time?
We are concentrating on growing our network within the UK to 50 franchises within the next five years, increasing our product range and streamlining our processes.