Halifax mumpreneur and babyballet founder, Claire O’Connor, has taken the plunge to travel the world for a year with her family to expand the franchise business and introduce the brand to the world stage.
Only weeks ago, Claire came up with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and – using a world map and some wool and pins – created a ‘family wish list’ of places to visit combined with ideal locations to set up new franchises for babyballet.
Married to Chris, a sports analyst working in Canada for rugby league team, Toronto Wolfpack, Claire will join her husband and three of their four children, Charlie, 14, Claudia, 12 and 10-year-old Kitty. Whilst there, Claire will look for opportunities to set up franchises in the country.
Claire and Chris will home school the children on their travels. Their eldest son Harry will remain in the UK while he studies at university.
babyballet was founded in 2005, to create a dance experience for six months to six-year-olds to dance, gain confidence and shine, in a fun, caring and supportive environment, away from the traditional strict and serious classes often associated with ballet.
With 74 franchises currently in the UK, Claire successfully expanded the business into Australia and New Zealand last year, establishing 33 new franchises Down Under – with more in the pipeline. Over 25,000 children now enjoy babyballet on both sides of the world every week.
Claire said: “The successful expansion of the business into Australia and New Zealand made me realise that if I can do it there, I can potentially do it anywhere in the world. With Chris in Toronto it seemed like the perfect opportunity to join him and look to expand over there, as well as other countries.
“It’s going to be an adventure of a lifetime and will enable me to take babyballet across the globe and build the brand on an international level. I can’t wait to meet dance school owners and teachers who are keen to bring babyballet to children in their local areas.
“Being able to involve our children is amazing and they are so excited to go, learn and experience new things. It’s not going to be an easy ride, but we’re all in it together and can’t wait to set off.”
Claire and the babyballet brand have won numerous awards including ITV Mumpreneur, Best Business Parent at the Mum and Working Awards, Halifax Courier Young Business Person (2007) and Entrepreneur (2008). Claire also featured in a Channel 4 documentary ‘Big Ballet’ exploring issues of size in the world of ballet.
Claire has set up a blog (livingourglobaldream.com) where you can follow her and her family’s adventures over the next 12 months, as she takes the next step in turning babyballet into a world-renowned franchise business.