Andrea White has the theatre arts running through her veins. But even someone with her vast experience has found that joining a successful theatre school franchise has made all the difference to her business. Here we find out about her Razzamataz journey and why she loves the enthusiasm from everyone in the network.
I was brought up by a dancer and stage manager who dissuaded me from going in to the theatre, but I just kept asking for ballet lessons because I loved to dance. I discovered my love of choreographing and later, teaching. After being taught by my parents, I then moved on to Laine Theatre Arts. I performed all over the world and then wanted to settle back in the UK and teach.
I had my own theatre school in Devon, where I taught most of the classes. After my marriage ended I needed a new challenge and a new adventure. I looked in to setting up from scratch again and also researched franchises, because I still wanted to do what I was good at but with a little back up. I had a couple of interviews with a private school and another franchise, both of whom were keen for me to start but Razzamataz came way out on top for me and I was thrilled when they said yes!
I was primarily a teacher myself so knew what made a good teacher, so hiring staff has been relatively smooth, because I can spot the passion and the technique. My previous school had a real family feel to it and I am still in touch with former students which is just lovely. I wanted to recreate that at Razzamataz too. Having also worked in mainstream school, working with SEN children, I know how important it is to be fully inclusive and understand what a challenge school can be for so many, so providing a safe and happy environment for them brings me great joy. I have worked in hospitality for years too, so engaging with new parents is a skill I’m grateful for. Also, at my age (58), I have pretty much seen and heard everything that crops up when running a theatre school and have the maturity to deal with it.
The joy of Razzamataz is that it can be flexible, but as with everything, you only get out what you put in. I now have a set timetable for myself to optimise my hours to fit in everything I need to do from social media, through to marketing, costume research and script research via the online Razzamataz site. Saturday is a Razz day, so I can catch up with parents in the morning and any paperwork that is outstanding. I will often have a coffee afterwards, sometimes with staff, just to put down what is happening in the classes and then the rest of the afternoon is for other paperwork, but I aim to stop at six, although in the Summer, lighter days, there is more incentive to work longer (in the winter it has to stop for Strictly!) In reality, I work longer than planned, but when you’re passionate about something, you just don’t mind.
When I wanted to buy in to a franchise for the support I didn’t realise that Razzamataz would be so hands on and so very supportive. In the early days, I would think that I knew all about running a school, and mostly I did, except only from a teacher’s viewpoint. I have learned so much, especially about marketing and I just love the courses that are provided when I get to meet with other Principals – some are very much younger and I love their enthusiasm and I always come away feeling so much more confident. I am quite a solitary person, so happy to carry on solo, but when I need it, the support is there and that is so beneficial.
Do it! Embrace it! And share everything! Share your successes, your worries, your dreams – everyone is in this to support one another. For some it is the financial gains and that is their purpose, so you will have to invest in time and money and that is probably a full-time commitment. For others. Like myself, I would like to retire and have a nice little pension pot from it, but if I can leave the Razzamataz Bognor knowing that we have an excellent reputation as a great all-round performing arts school, I am happy; it all depends on your definition of success.
The rewards come from the children, parents, grand-parents and staff that make Razz such a lovely family. I truly value the knowledge that youngsters will remember us for giving them the space and courage to be themselves.
Join the Razzamataz network
Do you have the desire needed to run your own theatre school? Speak to their friendly Head Office staff and find out how you can transfer your skills. To celebrate 20 years in business, they currently have a 50% off the franchise fee, first term management fee free PLUS they pay your VAT.
As Razzamataz Theatre School franchise prepares to celebrate its 20th anniversary, we mark the achievements of some of the first franchisees who came on board during the very early days.
Georgia Davies decided to take the plunge and open her own theatre school franchise and has never looked back.
Deborah Laws is the Principal of Razzamataz Plymouth.
Claire Walford has been successfully running Razzamataz Yeovil since January 2011.
For Debbi Ledwith quitting a secure job to start her own franchise business was a chance that she knew she needed to take for a better balance between her home life and work.
Zoe McKibbin is the Principal of Razzamataz Edinburgh and Razzamataz Glasgow South.
Jessica Chandler-Smith is the Principal of Razzamataz Brentwood and Razzamataz Hornchurch.
Meet Tara McGoune, franchisee owner of Razzamataz Early Years Tryone & Fermanagh.