Angela Pickup, original owner of Razzamataz York passes the franchising torch on to her daughter Holli, who is set to become its new principal
Angela Pickup opened Razzamataz York in September 2011 after trying to find her daughter Hollie, aged 13 at the time, a new theatre arts class. Although there was nothing suitable on the market then, Angela did come across the Razzamataz franchise and knew how popular it would be in her area.
Hollie became the first student and by 17, she started to work at the school, covering a variety of jobs from front of house reception to classroom assistant. For the last four years, Hollie has been the vocal coach as well as the assistant principal, giving her the very best on-the-job training. She is now set to become its new principal.
What’s your background?
Angela: I don’t have a background in performing arts but have loved watching Hollie over the years. Before Razzamataz, I worked in senior management in the art and leisure industry and part of my role was to run major events with showbusiness performers in Blackpool and Scotland.
Hollie: From a young age I’ve always loved singing and dancing and performing in front of my mum and dad, even singing into a candle, anything as long as I was performing. When mum opened Razzamataz York, it became my everything. I also went to music college for three years to study performance Level 3, which I loved and achieved a distinction. Since then, I’ve pursued my career by teaching at Razzamataz and working with all different children. Although I’ve never run my own business before, I’ve always said from a young age that I want my own Razzamataz.
What attracted you to the franchise sector?
Angela: It’s a great feeling to be part of a strong brand with constant support. Razzamataz gives you the best training to get you started on your journey, including the courage to believe in yourself. Throughout my time with Razzamataz, it has helped me keep up with future trends and market demands. From day one, it was always my intention that one day Razzamataz would be Hollie’s. It would mean that no matter what the job climate is like, Hollie would always have a secure job and business that she could build on. The time is right for us both now and I’m excited to be able to hand over to Hollie and watch her fly.
How do you feel about taking over?
Hollie: I feel slightly nervous with the current situation and the pandemic, which I think is to be expected. But after lockdown, I loved being able to get back and see all the children again and their happy faces to be back with their Razz family. I feel super excited for the new challenges ahead and to push myself and Razzamataz York to be the best that we can be. I feel confident that I will have all the support from the head office and of course my mum. She will always be with me every step of the way and our parents at Razzamataz York are also so supportive. I feel proud to be running my own business at the age of 24.
How do you manage the work-life balance?
Angela: Razzamataz gives you an amazing opportunity as a parent to work but still have family time. This was so prudent when Hollie was in her teens and formative years as I was there when she went to school and came home. This was a luxury I never had with my two older children. Plus, I don’t ever have that Monday morning feeling because I love what I do.
Hollie: I currently work full-time as a cover supervisor/teaching assistant in a secondary school. I always allow time for Razzamataz and I always give myself one day a week to myself where I do the things I love to do and spending time with my family. I work good hours at my current job, so this allows me early afternoons or evenings to be able to complete Razzamataz work because it is so flexible.
What are the most rewarding aspects of being a Razzamataz principal?
Angela: The buzz of mentoring children, watching them grow in confidence and skills. It gives you a real sense of pride and a feeling that you are doing something so worthwhile.
Hollie: When you see such shy children come to us who are clinging to their parents and then within a few weeks of being at Razzamataz they run through the door without even a goodbye to mums and dads. I love the confidence that children gain. When we take the children to perform in London or when they do their annual shows, this is such a rewarding experience as you see something so fantastic that the kids and the staff have worked so hard towards and the outcome just brings a tear to my eye. I absolutely adore my Razz family.
What advice can you offer anyone considering a franchise and what are the benefits?
Angela: Make sure you fully research the brand. How successful are they, what franchise rating do they have and what are customers saying about them? Check out your nearest franchise to see how professional they are too. With Razzamataz, you have the opportunity to mostly work from home with hours to suit. The more you put in the higher the rewards and the head office is always there for you and go the extra mile. This has been especially important during lockdown. I don’t know how they did it but they kept everyone motivated in different ways. We were way ahead of our rivals, in particular with online classes being rolled out.
Hollie: I know that I will never ever feel like I’m on my own with the Razzamataz network and all the lovely people and of course, my mum for support. It’s reassuring to know that I won’t feel lost or unsupported. These are the things that you should be looking for when you research franchises to invest in.
What’s a typical day like?
Angela: I organise the household needs, which can be everything and anything from making sure my husband has everything he needs, the dogs are walked and fed, tidying up, packed lunches made and of course, the constant cups of tea. After everyone goes I get stuck into emails and prioritise my work. Some days are busier than others but I always try and take a day off during the week and always have Sunday off for family time.
Hollie: A typical session at Razzamataz will start by having a catch up with staff to see how everyone is. We get the music going ready for our first students to arrive, go and greet all parents and children and have them coming in with big smiley faces and ready for an exciting day. We also make time to speak to parents so they can ask any questions and new tasters who have joined us for the day.
How do you stay motivated?
Angela: I know that what we are doing at Razzamataz is so very worthwhile for children. Running a theatre school is a lifestyle, not merely a job you just clock in and out of. As a team, we are all passionate about what we do and that positivity is incredibly motivating.
Hollie: Reach out to other people in the network and you soon realise that you are not alone. You can achieve so much more by working as a team and when you look at how much happiness we can bring, it feels so valuable.
What are your future plans?
Hollie: Mum has done amazing things for the children at Razzamataz York. I’m so proud of the community that she has built and the opportunity she has given me. I definitely feel ready to take this on and to continue to grow the business and support the students to be the best that they can be, both in terms of performing arts and life skills. Performing arts and the confidence that it brings to children is now more important than ever before and I’m so grateful that we can continue to bring that to the young people of York.