When Rebecca Riley’s first son was born prematurely, and she suffered an awful bereavement, she was motivated to create a business that would help babies and parents alike…
Tell us about your business, what does it do?
Kalma Baby offers the very best in children's yoga helping children's health and well being. We teach from the youngest of 6 weeks through to 18 years. Helping develop, give greater confidence to the children in the North East. We offer yoga classes privately, deliver in children centres, nurseries and schools. The inspiration behind Kalma Baby came from my first born being premature. Having searched for Baby groups to take him to which would support him developmentally. Noticing a big gap for such activities It soon became my own personal passion to support other children and parents in such yoga journeys like my own.
What did you do before you started this business?
I was a retail trainer and manager within Arcadia group. So I have always had a passion for helping people develop through training. Mentoring was one of my key roles from supporting new managers to supporting staff training and development in stores.
What inspired you to start up?
The inspiration behind Kalma Baby was my first born premature son. There were no groups locally I could attend to help him in his development. I suffered with PND as lost my father just after my son was born to cancer. My journey personally dealing with one of the happiest moments of life giving birth whilst the safest moment of my life losing my dad to cancer was very tough on me. Without my family and the friends I made at such groups I feel really made the impact on me to do something which made a difference to support others in similar situations. My business continues to grow and take many inspirations from my husband, children mother and close friends.
Where do you get advice, support or help?
Much of my advice I seek from close business friends. I have some very lovely ones! Fiona Simpson of ARTventurers, my mum and my husband. I am incredibly lucky to have such a great team of franchisees and we are constantly looking for new ways to improve and stand out this comes from the team. We have an incredible support network and lisa cryer a trainer for our company is a huge inspiration to me. She supports our team and works with our franchisees with myself.
Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
I'm incredibly lucky that I have a husband who believes in me and what the company stands for. He too saw first hand how yoga benefited our boys and he invested the start up cash to get me going.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
The last year has been amazing for Kalma Baby. We have had our biggest number of franchises sold and covered almost every postcode in the North East. We saw the launch of Kalma Mamas in September our next franchise model launched with one branch sold and two new ones on the way. Our programs Kalma minds and yoga friendly autism sessions saw us working with the North East Autism Society which is incredible!
How do you differentiate your business from others?
We have two big differences. Our company holds a service industry accreditation from the Children's Activity Association. They are the company nationally to regulate children's Activitys. We hold a Gold award with them the highest accreditation which means all of our policies procedures and training have met or exceeded their expectations. A benefit of this means we bring peace of mind t our parents all our teachers are insured trained and DBS checked.
We also have two accreditations for our training programs, from the international institute of complementary therapists and one from The CPD Standards office. Both accreditations give our franchisees peace of mind our training has been externally verified and is of a very high standard.
What’s it like to be your own boss?
Being your own boss is an incredible feeling. I would never change it. One of the main reasons I started the company was to have greater flexible working life so I could raise my boys. It's allowed me to be an amazing mum and be a boss. I love seeing others do well and achieve their own personal ambitions and this is one of the perks of being a boss. Supporting other women in this industry from my own franchisees to others business women and our customers! It hasn't come quickly or easily and with the love for it has come tears and challenges. It has all made the business what it is and the type of boss I am. I'm constantly asked how I've managed to raise three boys under 7 whilst building my little empire- and I always say I've just never gave up!
Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
In 5 years time our expansion sees Kalma Baby and Kalma Mamas throughout the UK with over 100 branches of franchises dedicated to making yoga more easily accessible to the children of the UK. We want to make that difference in the health and well being of children.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Never give up! If you are passionate and have a vision I always believe it will work. I've built it from running a few classes of my own in Baby yoga to now mentoring our team of 13 franchisees and growing our franchise business in just 2 years. Take the help and advice from others who have been there and done that and always try and put yourself out there be the face of your brand!