Franchisee Helen Bellis is celebrating the 10th anniversary of her Razzamataz Sheffield business
Starting her own Razzamataz Sheffield business at the age of 23, Helen Bell certainly had many challenges to overcome.
Having been part of the network for many years, Helen started as a teacher during her second year of university. Fast forward 14 years and she now combines running her own theatre school with being a mum to her son Harrison, who was born in 2017.
“I had taught for four years before opening my own theatre school and I thought I knew all I needed to,” said Helen. “However, once I started, it was very clear that although I understood about running a theatre school, I really didn’t know very much about running a business. This is where our founder Denise and our head office are so great at getting in experts to offer fantastic training with webinars and Zooms in all areas.”
Overcoming a pandemic
Being a franchisee allowed Helen to tap into the support available during a particularly uncertain time.
“COVID was a great example,” she explained. “If I were an independent, I dread to think what would have happened, I would have just panicked but being part of the Razzamataz network gives you confidence that head office will always get the right info to us.
“We had a lot of changes during the pandemic so for now, the focus is on maintaining and running my business as efficiently as possible around my family.”
But the pandemic also showed Helen the importance of embracing change.
“This can bring with it new ways of working and new processes that can improve the way you do things in the long run,” she added.
One big family
Having overcome the trials and tribulations of life, Helen is now excited to be celebrating her 10th anniversary in the business.
Talking about her achievements over the decade, she said: “There’s really been so many, from students gaining professional work in shows such as Waitress to students that have won scholarships with the Future Fund to attend performing arts colleges. We have also got lots of past students that have used the confidence that they have gained at Razzamataz to go on and achieve their dreams at many varied careers.”
Helen describes the Razzamataz Sheffield community as “one big family” where “once you are a Razzer, you are always a Razer”.
She added: “We recently asked our students what Razzamataz means to them, and this was senior student Poppy’s response: ‘For me, it means I have a second family that I can rely on for anything. These people do not judge me and always look out for me, and I will do the same for them because they are so important to me.’”
Helen says she loves every single time the children perform, be that at a street fair or on a West End professional stage.
She added: “However, the one experience that really stands out is when Razzamataz Sheffield performed at Disneyland Paris just five weeks after Harrison was born and I was able to be there with him cheering along our students. Watching them on the stage and particularly during the Disney parade, made me see how special it is to be part of Razzamataz. Watching the schools in the Razzamataz network in the most magical setting will stay with me forever.”
Helping staff realise their potential
But it is not only Helen’s students that have milestones to be proud of – Razzamataz has also created opportunities for her staff, too.
“For example, Paige joined us almost five years ago as an assistant while she was still at university,” explained Helen. “By working with us, she has discovered that she wanted to pursue a more managerial role, which we have been able to help her with thanks to our ongoing training and support.”
A model that gives you freedom
Helen is grateful for the knowledge and training she received from Razzamataz herself, which allowed her to build a good structure in the school.
“This has given me the freedom to step back when I need to, enabling me to spend time with my family,” she said. “The flexibility of Razzamataz has meant that I can adapt my business as my lifestyle changes. Razzamataz has allowed me to grow as a person and given me the opportunity to work out what I want my business to look like to ensure that it gives the best possible experience for me, my team, the students and their families.”
So, what’s Helen’s advice for anyone considering joining the network?
“Ask loads of questions. Watch classes, watch the Principal in action and if you join the Razzamataz network, join in all the free training which will help set you up for success.”