babyballet co-founder and CEO Claire O’Connor is building a successful franchise
Ballet and business. Not the most obvious fit in most people’s eyes, but Claire O’Connor, co-founder and CEO of babyballet, the UK’s largest ballet school franchise for young children, has certainly danced her way to success in the franchising industry.
babyballet has more than 80 franchisees in operation, teaching thousands of - affectionately named - ‘babyballet stars’ per week to dance the babyballet way.
Learning through play
With a focus on learning through play, the classes allow children to enjoy the physical and social benefits of dance in a safe, caring, positive and informal environment.
The babyballet brand has captured the imagination of both young children and their parents, who enjoy the freedom and magic of the classes - without the pressure of having to be the perfect shape or size.
Claire says: “I was born into the world of ballet - my mum Barbara Peters was a Royal Academy of Dance examiner - and I attended traditional classes, but gave up at 14 because I felt I was the wrong shape.
“It left me with a lack of selfconfidence and poor body image. I didn’t want this to happen to others and so babyballet was born. The success of babyballet proves that shape, size and ability are not barriers to ballet.”
Claire’s babyballet brand now leads the sector, with new territories being claimed all the time throughout the UK and internationally. In 2016, brand presence was established in both Australia and New Zealand.
The application process to become a franchisee is ongoing throughout the year, with advice and support provided by the babyballet management team.
Once accepted, each franchisee receives exclusive rights in their chosen territory to run classes, parties and shows, plus earn commission on a range of unique babyballet merchandise, all with the dedicated support of babyballet head office.
Franchisees are valued greatly by the head office team and vice versa.
Jessie, franchise owner of babyballet Dartford, Bexley and Bromley, says: “Being part of the babyballet franchise family is fantastic.
“The training and support from head office is brilliant, no matter how many questions I have.”
Established in 2009, this babyballet dance school now sees over 1,000 little ones skip through its doors each week.
In addition to helping children explore, learn and grow as individuals, the babyballet brand is well known for its family feel and close relationships within the franchise network.
“All our franchisees are passionate about the brand and building their own business,” Claire says.
“For those with children, having a babyballet franchise gives them the opportunity to have a family and run their own company at the same time.”