Interview with Ginny Bradley, founder of Creative Movements
Twenty years ago, choreographer and artistic director Ginny Bradley was inspired by her daughter to start a dance and movement class. Find out how today Creative Movements has grown into a successful franchise business.
What’s your career background?
I trained in both classical and contemporary dance in London, and I subsequently worked for 20 years in England, Europe, and Australia as a dancer, choreographer, and artistic director in the professional theatre.
When I returned to London in 1997, I completed a postgraduate degree in Drama and Movement Therapy at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (Sesame Method).
How did your career change after having children?
On becoming a mother, I was drawn to working with young children. I established Creative Movements in Australia (Byron Bay and Sydney) in 1990.
Initially, this work began in my daughter’s first nursery. I introduced a dance- movement-storytelling class. Teachers immediately saw the benefit of this work for young children. Little did I know that these were the seeds of the successful business that Creative Movements has become today!
Where did the idea for your business come from?
As a first time mother, I had to think on my feet. My background was dance and choreography. My daughter gave me the inspiration.
When reading stories to her she would naturally mimic and act out the characters through movement. She worked out right from wrong and good from bad characters.
I decided this would be wonderful material to offer children in nurseries and schools. It allows them to understand and mimic real life situations in the safety of the studio, nursery, or school. The work encourages children to be curious about the world and voice their opinions!
How did you move from idea to actual business?
The business developed organically and even changed countries from Australia to the United Kingdom! Initially it grew by word of mouth, but today we are promoting Creative Movements online far more than we have been in the past. The fact that our unique ethos and business grew out of one class 20 years ago is something I feel proud of!
What’s your Unique Selling Point?
Creative Movements, through classes, nurseries, workshops, and parties, encourages children to harness their own creativity as a benefit for the rest of their lives.
Offering suitable material for the children to explore gives each child a unique opportunity to discover their own creativity and build a strong sense of themselves to take out into their world. And the children and parents have a great time in the process!
Who’s your target audience?
We focus on children from 18 months to eight years in a variety of settings and themes. Our classes take place in nurseries, schools, in the CM studios, and other venues. Our mums enjoy not only participating in classes with their toddler, but also watching their child in the class.
Witnessing their children in a Creative Movements environment can be quite an eye opener, in the most amazing and positive way!
How do you spread the word about what you do?
For almost 20 years the business has spread largely by word of mouth in London, Cambridge, and the Home Counties. We get siblings coming back years later and every time we hold a party we usually book two more. It’s been an organic achievement!
What’s been your most successful marketing/PR strategy?
Up until now our clients have advertised the classes. But recently, I have taken on amarketing assistant who is spreading the word at great speed in London and throughout the UK.
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
One challenge is finding good teachers who stay with Creative Movements longer than about two years. Most people I find are moving on with their own careers. Therefore, I frequently have training for new teachers (mums, actors, dancers, etc), for classes, parties, and workshops.
And your proudest moment so far?
For the reasons stated above, several years ago I decided to develop Creative movements into a franchise. The proudest moment I had was with my first sale!
Since then I have sold six franchises in Cambridge, the Home Counties, and London. I have a fantastic group of franchisees who continue to inspire me. This is my proudest achievement and the most important focus of my work today.
Why is work so important to you?
The work has developed over the years and as life changes, so has the business. I believe strongly that it is so important for young children to explore one’s creativity, encourage the imagination, and develop and hold onto their own sense of self.
In this fast paced world of computers and games, it is far too easy and accessible for children to rely on devices and the world of simple play is getting lost in the process. Finding those answers within, thinking outside the box, is far more rewarding and long lasting – this is Creative Movements.
Who inspires you?
My clients (children and their parents), my assistants and franchisees, music, life, literature, movement, and creating sessions with the children, using their own material. My firm belief in the Creative Movements ethos!
How do you balance your business with your family?
First and foremost, I was a mother and I grew the business as my child grew up. Initially I would hold morning classes, when my daughter was at nursery. As she became more independent, I was able to increase the hours.
This is the beauty of this business – you can work it around family and other commitments. Now that my daughter is adult, I am so grateful to have a passion and job that inspires me daily!
What are your top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?
Enjoy working with children. Have an enthusiastic personality. Ambition. Enjoy being your own boss. Be able to laugh at yourself! Enjoy the work daily. Be prepared to create and re-create!
You can find out more about Creative Movements on their website.