LOCAL MUM & BABY CLASSES ADAPT TO “NEW NORMAL”
THE STRUGGLE OF A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER
BUSYLIZZY – MUMS AND BABIES CLASSES
Back in May, we took a look at a brand new business – BusyLizzy – that had only been open for one day before lockdown was announced, a devastating hit for any small business to deal with but especially hard on such a new venture. BusyLizzy focuses on Pre & Post Natal Fitness and Baby Classes and had only just begun to arrange sessions when they had to close again.
Since then, small businesses of all kinds have faced struggles of their own, trying to adapt and find ways to keep going despite all the obstacles that the covid pandemic and accompanying restrictions put in their way.
Today, we check back in with Christie Haslet, owner of BusyLizzie and ask her about the decision to start a new business and the struggles she has faced dealing with the ‘new normal’.
“I am a first time mum who studied and worked her whole adult life to become a Fashion and Accessories Buyer. I knew I wanted to be in Fashion since I was 15 and worked hard to ensure I got everything I needed to have the successful career that I had always wanted. I worked my way up through big brand companies like, M&S, Primark & QVC and absolutely loved every minute. Travelling, shopping, being creative every day….
However when I had my daughter (now 20 months) everything changed. I am sure many can relate. After having a child my views on life and what I wanted my life to be, completely shifted. I felt a real urge to help other mum’s through what I knew to be a very challenging time. I also did not want to leave my baby every day to travel to London and carry on my 12 hour a day (sometimes more) corporate job, let alone go off to Hong Kong for 2 weeks at a time. So I needed to find something else. I was the main breadwinner in our household so the pressure I felt to go back to work was huge.”
So was it a struggle taking the leap of faith to set up a new business?
“Our household income more than halved when I decided not to go back and we have had to borrow from family members to be able to purchase the BusyLizzy Franchise, which I knew was going to be an asset to the community of Fleet. I was a member myself of the Farnham Club during my pregnancy/whilst on maternity leave with my daughter and we loved every minute. We met so many lovely mums and babies as well as working out and having fun together. I knew this was what I needed to do to help as many mums as I could, as well as work around bringing up my daughter how I wanted to. It felt like fate when the opportunity came through to set up the business in the Fleet/ Farnborough area.
I bought the business in October 2019 and did all of my training and initial setup through the end of last year so that I could start my soft launch at the end of January. I worked tirelessly every minute I could, whilst looking after my Daughter, to put on 3 open days, 15 free trial classes and do as much marketing as possible. This was to gain an initial membership base to open with on 16th March 2020.
Unfortunately as we were about to find out though, March brought lockdown and with it a whole new struggle for business owners to face:
“Anyway, 16th March finally came around, COVID was all over the news, other countries had shut schools and we were being told by the government we need to stay socially distanced and keep up hand hygiene. I pulled all of the anti bac sprays, baby sanitising water, hand sanitiser etc I had in my house (as there were none on the shelves at this point) so I could have them readily available at our 2 Monday classes at the lovely Zebon Centre in Church Crookham.
We had 3 ladies and their babies come to our Mummy & Me Yoga Class and 2 more at our Following Baby Boogie class. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their first 2 classes, and I felt a weight had been lifted (slightly). It had been such a big gear up to opening, it was great to finally be there and be able to get going properly. Everyone at the class was asking if we were definitely carrying on and none of us thought that a lockdown would happen at that point.
That evening Monday 16th March, just as I was coming down off my ”first classes were a success” high…. Boris made his announcement that no pregnancy class/ gatherings could take place. I honestly felt sick to my stomach with worry. The next day we were told no baby classes either, and that was it, my physical business was closed only 1 day after opening. I felt like I had been sucker punched, everything was pitted against me… what was the future for my business? for my family?…would we lose our house?…. would I have to get another job?…will my daughter have to go to nursery?…how will we pay for it?…. these were just a few of the things flying around in my mind.”
Below: BusyLizzy baby massage classes.
ADAPTING TO THE ‘NEW NORMAL’
But instead of just giving up, Christie worked hard to adapt and continue her new business and her efforts certainly appear to be working!:
“The next evening, we had a call with the Franchise network and all decided that taking the business online and massively reducing the cost to families will hugely help those going through such a terribly tough and worrying time, as well as keep our businesses ticking along. Even though this meant our income would dramatically reduce, our costs would too. Being a part of an incredible Franchise network made up of a lovely family at the core, and 23 other mums that were doing exactly the same as me, running their small ”mums supporting mums businesses” whilst bringing up their children, was an absolute lifesaver at this point!! We all worked together, as if we had been a team for years, and created an incredible online offering of 20+ classes a week, plus talks from some of the specialist partners that were now also out of work. All via a closed Facebook Group that was exclusive to members that paid £20 per month to join.
This luckily kept my business ticking over and just about breaking even. It saved my business, my sanity (as I did the classes myself at home with my daughter) and my will to get up in the morning throughout the 5 months of lockdown. I also like to think it helped thousands of mums throughout the UK too!!
I was one of the Millions of people that completely fell through every gap possible when it came to government financial help… typical. I am so lucky that I have an incredible family that have been able to help me out financially in my time of need. I would like to say a huge Thank You to all of you, you mean the world to me, I don’t know where I would be without you.”
Below: Busylizzy Fleet’s new Mantra is ‘’Let’s Be Social, whilst Social Distancing’’.
“In July, when lockdown restrictions started to ease to a point we thought classes may be possible again, I contacted the local councils who ran the venues I used pre-lockdown. After trawling through a lot of very confusing and contradicting government guideline documents, I knew that we could open up to face to face classes outdoors whilst social distancing. I did extensive COVID risk assessments of the outside area at The Zebon Centre and the Crookham Village Parish Council agreed that it would be as safe as possible to get back outdoors during the summer months with capped numbers and social distancing in place.
I planned 3 initial classes a week, bought a whole load more anti bac equipment, some bright pink cones and sent out a lot of emails to members explaining the new rules to stay safe whilst now being able to get back out and about again. I was shocked at the amount of mums that were so happy we were able to restart.
Our first class out in the park was so lovely. We had 4 mums with 4 babies and our fab instructor taking a Mummy & Me Bootcamp Class on a beautiful morning on 20th July. All of us were so grateful to be back out, exercising and socialising… whilst social distancing. We were more than happy to abide by all of the new rules.”
TRY FOR FREE!
So do you fancy giving any of the BusyLizzy classes a go, supporting new business and having fun at the same time?:
“As the demand for classes grows along with everyone’s confidence about getting back out we are growing our timetable. We now have 3 Post Natal Fitness Classes, 1 Pregnancy Fitness class and 2 Baby Classes every week. Some have even been taken inside. This was my next hurdle. Going back indoors for the Autumn. There is only so much time that the weather in England will hold out for us to do outdoor mat based fitness, so we have to be back indoors for the autumn.
We have finally managed to take a couple of our classes indoors regularly, in the stunningly spacious and very well ventilated Church Crookham Community Centre, Crookham Park. Wearing Masks during a baby class, I thought would be strange and the babies would cry… but they didn’t!! They still loved Baby Boogie as much and were totally relaxed during Baby Massage so again, a weight was lifted. Social Distancing was also absolutely fine given the incredible space we have in the Oak Hall, for both Mummy & Me Pilates and the Baby Classes we have had.
So…onwards and upwards. I am again excited about the business I am continuing to grow and am confident that I can make it the community driven hub for Mums & Mums to Be, that I always dreamt it would be. Whilst also keeping everyone as safe as I possibly can. What better way to show the lovely mummies of Fleet and the surrounding areas, how safe and okay coming to a BusyLizzy Fleet Class is in the ”New Normal” than to offer EVERYONE a FREE first trial class.”
Below: BusyLizzy offers a large range of classes.
So what can you expect in this ‘New Normal’ at Busylizzy Fleet…
- Social distancing – cones are laid out for you to have your own space to workout, these are at least 2mtrs away from the instructor or anyone else in the class.
- Outdoors for the Summer – Classes remain outdoors until the Middle of September.
- Sanitising Gels, Wipes & Sprays are readily available to use at every class.
- You use your own equipment and mats, so no one has to share.
- Loads of Fun, just with a couple of new things to think about, to stay safe.
“When you have bought your pick ‘n mix package this gives you credits to use, and you can use them on which ever class you like each week! The best bit…. You book and cancel via a really easy to use smart phone app and can book a class 30 mins before it starts (for those days you really need to get out of the house but being a new mum don’t have your diary planned in advance) PLUS you can cancel 2 hours before the class starts (for those days you were organised but baby has other ideas) without losing any money or class credit. It just rolls over until you are able to use it!!
Classes will be back indoors, with the exception of Mummy & Me Bootcamp which will remain outside for now, from mid September. Baby Massage is already running in the Church Crookham Community Centre every Wednesday at 12:30pm and Mummy & Me Pilates, Baby Boogie and Mummy & Me Yoga are in the mix too.
They also have Mums – to – Bee Pilates on a weekday evening for all of your lovely expectant parents. On top of all of this, you have unlimited access to the incredible array of Online Classes and talks.”
“Please do come and join us for a class and see what is all about. We would love to have you!” – Christie
Below: BusyLizzy timetable.
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