Why did you set up KidooLand?
I am frequently asked this question :-) .. back in 2007 there were three key reasons.
The first was this .. Balancing my role as a mother with a desire to live my purpose through my career
I moved to France at the end of 2004 with a toddler about to turn 3 years old and a babe in arms age 9 months old.
In the U.K. at the time, part time work meant 3 days a week with flexibility to drop children off at school for 9a.m. and to pick them up at 15h30. When I started looking at the careers in the South of France, I quickly realised that part time here was not the same .. it was 8-18h 4 days a week!! I felt very strongly that my work had to fit in around my primary role as a Mum and started thinking about what I could do to allow this to happen. The 2nd and 3rd reasons ....were my babies - wanting to be part of their lives whenever they were not at school and providing them with the best opportunities possible
I wanted to be there for them, to ensure that even though they were now in a French speaking world that they would have immersion in their own mother tongue world and as neither of them were in school or creche when we arrived I was desperate for us all to make friends and meet people. Back in 2004, depsite a few parent baby groups there was hardly anything for the 0-5 years outside of the creche and maternelle. There was no Royal Kids, no Circus Party, no trampoline parks, no Eco Park ... Early Years development was strong in the USA and UK but practically non existant here.
I decided that if I was going to be their primary educator until they started school and in charge above all of their English learning, that I needed to set up a structure that they could flourish and grow in.
I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and business owners and had already co-founded a successful business in the U.K. sourcing French Au pairs for British families (so that my babies would hear French from birth but also so I could work from home at a time when it wasn't a thing!)
Being in charge of my own destiny and writing my own future was in my DNA, I was brought up to feel the fear and do it anyway.
My Dad, who while he was a law abiding solicitor always pushed us to strive for more and to leave our comfort zone .. to give it a go and to push boundaries. He was my biggest advocate when I set up KidooLand and very much a confidant in the first 10 years, someone who was always there at the end of the phone line with wise counsel and advice. He was also pretty handy with a screwdriver and used to frequently remind me of the 78screws he had to undo when we first got the KidooLand keys and needed to dismantle many shelves off the walls! I write this today on the 18th birthday of my youngest.
HOW IT BEGAN This time 15 years ago I already had the keys to KidooLand Vallauris and I was busy not only with a toddler and a babe in arms but also running to the chambre de Commerce and getting all the paperwork in place to open KidooLand on the 14th Feb 2007 .. and with all those shelves to remove!
We had found some second hand furniture (to keep opening costs down) and had a stand at the Forum de La Petite Enfance in Juan les Pins where my wonderful sister and I shared the news that this new concept of English is Fun was about to open on the Chemin de Saint Bernard.
FAMILY SUPPORT & LEGACY
It has been a true family business.
Both my babies were founder members of all our classes and courses, providing us with essential feedback on what was working great and what wasn't and of course my work also provided me with essential childcare to grow a fledgling business in. My husband has also been hands on through the years with practical renovation advice, business feedback and even teachning a Lego Mindstorms Robotics course back in the day.
Many a night has been and still is spent around a dinner table as a family brainstorming and coming up with solutions and new ideas.
My nieces have been participants in our various stages and classes and cousins have also spent summers working for me and gaining essential work experience.
Just in a homelife "protect the planet" way KidooLand has also answered one of the issus that faces so many parents .. What to do with the toys, books and fancy dress that your children have grown out of? For me it was easy, economical and environmental .. take it to KidooLand. We still ahve toys there, that my babies used to play with .. that have been through the hands of hundreds if not thousands of children!
We are proud to be a local employer allowing over 20 people to full and part time work around their families, pulling together as a team to support working parents with all the trials and tribulations that parenthood throws at them.
We have also helped many teenagers and university students with their own work experience goals.
We also have continuously provided new parents with a safe space to meet up and connect so that their babies do have those essential social interactions in the early years.
As I look back over the last 15 years I am thankful that my idea to create a positive, engaging educational space has enabled me to provide for my family both financially but also in every aspect of their education and growth. It's also provided them with essential work experience and knowledge of how business works. I am also incredibly grateful to the 7,000 children and their parents who believed in me and my team and believed in us.
Did I realise that when I came up with the idea for this business over 16 years ago it would bring me and my family .. absolutely not. That is the beauty of setting up your own business is that every day provides you with a new opportunity to learn and grow and take your concept in a direction that serves you and the people you love.
Happy birthday to our number 1 client .. Little Miss DJ !
Thanks for being one of our biggest supporters, a true advocate for everything we do and a thought leader in making KidooLand what it is today and what it will be tomorrow.