Cheryl Grogan found her passion which she turned into a business after noticing a gap in the market! This month her new business; AJ’s Play Days is launching! AJ’s Play Days is a soft play centre aimed at children under the age of 5 with a specific focus on the development needs of babies and toddlers through play. It will help parents bond with their children by offering bay and toddler yoga, positive parenting classes, hypnobirthing and a relaxation area.
Twenty-something Cheryl told us; ‘Whilst I was on maternity leave I noticed that there were not many places where a mum can take their smaller children without being uncomfortable and feeling out of their depth, especially parents with more than one child.’
‘When I was later offered redundancy I jumped at the chance of starting my own business. I have always wanted to be my own boss and the flexibility of having 2 small children was a must. I wanted to be able to spend time with my children and hopefully offer other parents a comfortable, relaxing place where they could take their babies and toddlers.’
But as AJ’s isn’t just an ordinary soft play centre, it’s clear to see that there was another area of interest that Cheryl took into consideration when imagining her business up and running…Developmental Psychology and Cheryl told us that after having her two children she used the techniques that she had studied; ‘I found that I enjoyed watching my boys reach a higher potential than I could imagine’ – and this was the aspect that she wanted to share with other parents and families.
To get started Cheryl contacted The Women’s Organisation and began working with our Business Adviser; Yan Miao. One of the biggest aspects that Cheryl considered before starting her business is something so many other business start-ups undervalue – Market Research. ‘I conducted questionnaires within children’s centres and nurseries to find out exactly what people wanted from a baby and toddler soft play.’ And Cheryl also was able to use her skills as a trained baby and toddler yoga instructor when she was thinking about classes for AJ’s Play Day’s ‘My part time job is teaching baby and toddler yoga classes so I used this to my advantage as I could ask opinions of other parents about design options. I also tested out the yoga classes on my two boys.’
Working alongside Yan, Cheryl began to get her business set up, but like all entrepreneurs faced a few barriers along the way – for Cheryl it was difficulties with her premises; ‘I had to undertake a change of usage for my property which was really long and drawn out, it took almost 16 weeks to complete! And at one point I faced losing the property I had set my heart on. Now that part has been approved all of the other legal steps are the next daunting part.’
‘Each step along this journey has been scary but exciting. It has taken a long time to get to where I am and at each hurdle it was hard not to give up, but now I am so close to completing everything, I’m extremely happy knowing I have made the right choice.’
And working with Yan has been that extra support and guidance that Cheryl needed; ‘I have received tremendous amounts of advice from The Women’s Organisation. I found the extremely helpful and I feel I would not have had the confidence or knowledge to have set up with business if I didn’t have the help of Yan, my Business Adviser.’
Now AJ’s Play Day’s is open for business and Cheryl couldn’t be happier – she has finally succeeded in her dream of working for herself and is relishing in the benefits that self-employment can bring; ‘I now have the freedom to make my own choices and spend time with my children. I feel so confident and proud that I have come this far. I didn’t think I would ever be able to run my own business, or even reach the point where I am at – but here I am!’
If you would like to find out more about AJ’s Play Day’s and maybe pay them a visit, you can do so by using the contact details below!
Phone Number: 077409540409
Address: 72 Stanley Road, Liverpool, Merseyside, L5 7QQ
And if you’ve been inspired by Cheryl’s story and would like support starting your own business, then get in touch with us! Ring us on 0151 706 8111 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
The Skills and Opportunities Fund is one of the many ways that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is contributing to the communities they live and work in. In 2015, they committed £2.5M to fund projects in charities, social enterprises, community groups, state-funded schools and colleges across the UK and Ireland, and they have allocated a further £2.5m to be spit across two round in 2016.