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Hannah’s Journey. Why She’s Franchising Her Art and Party Studio

Hannah’s Journey. Why She’s Franchising Her Art and Party Studio

Hannah Perry is the founder of The Giggling Pig Art and Party Studio, located in Connecticut (USA).

She owns one studio, with a second studio, as of July 2021, franchised.

Join Hannah, and Ramon Ray, founder of SmartHustle.com, on this new series of the Smart Hustle Podcast, Hannah’s Journey!

We’ll follow Hannah on her journey through the hustle, the Smart Hustle of business growth.

Listen to the Podcast – Episode 1

About Hannah Perry

Originally from the UK, Hannah moved to America when she was 19.

Hannah came to the USA with less than $20, huge dreams, and a heart of determination and grit.

Her first job, for many years, was as an au pair.

She studied childhood education and development in college, a lifelong passion.

After 10 years of being a nanny, Hannah took a leap of faith to start her own business, which today is The Giggling Pig Art and Party Studio.

Discussion topics in this episode include:

Why start a franchise?

Hannah wanted to start a franchise to expand while having some time to spend time with her family.
In addition, she wanted to give others the chance to own their own businesses.

Team Building Tips

  • Know who you’re hiring, build a relationship with them.
  • Test new staff members. Let them know that this is a testing period for you and them for a short time
  • Hire (and fire) to your purpose, values, and mission. Hire people who are in alignment with your core values
  • When to hire? Hire when you’re at the tipping point and know you need help. Hire too soon, you’ll waste money. Hire too late you won’t be able to properly grow your business or serve customers.
  • At some point, you’ll need to hire a “COO” or deputy to help you grow and manage various aspects of the business.

Smart Hustle Resources

The Importance of a Positive Attitude

Be Passionate and Humble

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT via Rev.com

About Hannah Perry

Hannah Perry:

Sure. Okay. So as you said, my name is Hannah Perry. I am a mother of two children, a 20 year old and a 10 year old. I live in Connecticut and I am originally from the UK. I moved to America when I was just 19 years old. I actually came over here as an au pair. I studied in college childhood education and development, so that was really my passion my whole life was working with children. And I’m a very driven self-motivated person. I was always trying to figure out even at a young age, how I could make things and work for myself.

Hannah Perry:

And my journey brought me to America, where I set up home and had my two lovely children. And eventually, I decided after many years of nannying here, so 10 years of being a nanny in private homes with children with special needs, I decided to take the leap of faith and open up my own arts business, but I didn’t really know what I was going to do. All I knew was that I had been drawing these characters, mainly the Giggling Pig character and I thought I was going to open up my business as an art gallery. And so the original signage actually all says the Giggling Pig Gallery on it. And that was the beginning of 10 years later where I am today.

Her Journey to America

Ramon Ray:

I love it. I love it. And today, what is it? Give us the business today. And by the way, I want to say that you did land to America. I think you told me earlier with millions of dollars in your pocket and your family had four mansions, one in Bel Air, one in Florida. Is that what I believe as I recall, or am I far off?

Hannah Perry:

You’re very far off. So, when I came to America at 19, I literally had, I believe it was 20 pounds, so that converted to about $15 in my pocket. And of course back then, we didn’t have email addresses, cell phones were just new, but very, very expensive. So I came over here. It was a pretty scary thing to do and I’ve really built a life for myself, which I think for the first time in 22 years of living here, I think I really do feel quite proud of that. I’ve bought my own home and I have my businesses and I’ve created a life for my children here and I feel pretty good about that.

Ramon Ray:

You should, absolutely. No, and I am too. And hence, you’re one of the first people that came to mind as we started this journey. So yes, thank you. So tell us today, the Giggling Pig, now I’m forgetting the name. What’s the full name, Hannah, again?

Hannah Perry:

It’s the Giggling Pig Art and Party Studio, but you can just call it the Giggling Pig. It’s fine.

Ramon Ray:

Very nice. Today, what are you?

The Franchise Decision

Hannah Perry:

So the Giggling Pig today is now a registered franchise. So I franchised the business officially this year, which has been something that I’ve been walking towards for years. And I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to do it, but I prepared all the steps to do it. And everything aligns earlier this year. And I sold my first franchise actually in March, so that was a pretty cool thing to do.

Ramon Ray:

Congratulations, that is a big deal.

Hannah Perry:

Yeah, definitely.

Ramon Ray:

And what are some of the challenges that you had to date? Why did you want to have a franchise? Let me put it that way. Because you could even expanded either one location or you could have had them all owned by Hannah. There’s two different paths and I’m sure knowing you, you probably researched this extensively and thought about it quite a bit. So why did you decide to say yes?

Hannah Perry:

Well, I think that my main mission with the Giggling Pig is that I really want to give children and families a place where they can go and be creative, but also teach them about the underlying message through everything is to teach children about kindness and compassion and inclusivity and diversity through art. So now I could have done that myself and just opened up a bunch of studios, but then I would have not been the mother that I wanted to be to my children. So I had to make that decision after opening up two studios, whether I still wanted to continue just opening them up myself. But I also, the other part of the business is I want to provide a place, not just for the kids, but for other people to become successful, to start their own businesses and to make their own money and to give back to their community.

Hannah Perry:

So I think that when you just hire people, there’s a level of commitment and passion that goes into it. But when somebody owns their own business, I feel like then their heart and soul go into it, so I thought that there would be a much more successful outcome.

Ramon Ray:

I love that. What we’ll do, Hannah, if it’s okay with you, why don’t we jump into about franchise ism or franchise ship? I don’t know what the right verbiage about starting franchises. We’ll do that in a subsequent episode. And why don’t you walk through, I think in business, Hannah, you have to hire people. You need a team. You have to market your business. You have to be a great leader. You have to handle your money. There’s a lot of things that go into start a successful business. Why don’t we touch on some of those things, either pick one or we can touch on a few, just a very broad base for episode one here of some things you’ve learned over the years, Hannah, maybe some things you’ve done wrong. Do you want to share that?

Hannah Perry:

Yeah.

Team Building

Ramon Ray:

What are some things you’ve done right? And I can mention each one, we can go deep into one or broad level. Maybe we’ll touch on if we can start on team building, maybe we can do that first. What are some things you’ve learned? What would you tell others listening as they’re looking to scale and grow? Because I have a small business as well, and team is important. You know people, “Ramon, why are you doing so much?” Stop. I have a team who helps me scale. Why don’t we touch on a few of those things? What have you learned with team building? What’s important?

Hannah Perry:

So I think the most important thing is obviously when you’re creating a team is picking the right people and you don’t always know that they’re the right people right away. You can interview people and background check people. And when they get in there, their excitement may die down or they might not be the way that they said they were going to be. So you have to be really involved and aware with the people that you’re hiring, not just as you hire them, but then build relationships with them as time goes by. And as you know, my staff, right now, I have about 13 members of staff in just my studio. And most of them have been with me for, the longest two of them have been with me is eight years and I’ve got seven years and six years, but most of them have been with me for more than five years.

Hannah Perry:

And so I think that that’s a true testament to the fact that they must enjoy their jobs. And we are a family and we’ve built great relationships with each other and I value their opinions and their ideas. And we’re a creative studio, so it’s important for them to feel that their creativity is going into the work. It’s not just my ideas, even though it’s the Giggling Pig, that they still feel heard and that work is acknowledged. So I just work really closely with them. There’s nothing that they do that I don’t do and really make sure that they feel connected and that my door’s always open to have discussion as well.

Ramon Ray:

Has there been a time, Hannah, where you’ve made a wrong decision. Like, “Oh, I remember Becky. I remember Jonathan, aye yai yai, that was [crosstalk 00:08:26] hire.”

Hannah Perry:

Yes.

Ramon Ray:

Tell us what happened or what went wrong. And I assume that wasn’t too many times, but tell us what you learned from that.

Hannah Perry:

It wasn’t many.

Ramon Ray:

Good.

Hannah Perry:

So it’s happened actually twice in 10 years, which is not too bad.

Ramon Ray:

That’s great. Yeah.

Hannah Perry:

Yeah. And I think that one of them that was really not a pleasant relationship was there was a lot of cattiness going on behind the scenes where my staff who had been with me for years were reporting back to me that there was some not nice things being said that was really not showing support for our business and not showing support for the other members of staff. It was making them feel almost bullied. But one of the great stories about this is that it was reported back to me that, so my art boxes that it’s a big part of my business now, that this person that made fun of them and said that I was a bad business woman for investing in these boxes. And it was funny and I didn’t obviously pay it any mind, but I didn’t even bring it up to the person. The review period was over and which I think that’s a good tip to people is to always have a review period.

Hannah Perry:

So it’s not just, “Hey, I’m hiring you, you’re on contract for the next 12 months or whatever it might be.” But have a period where you’re letting them know that this is a three month trial, I’m going to be observing you. And if at the end of the three months, your work has been great and you checked all the boxes, then we will then officially hire you. I learned that from this person. Anyway, it was great because my silly art boxes that made me a bad business woman, as far as this person was concerned, were actually what saved my business doing COVID, so we all sat down and laughed about that last year. So that was great.

Ramon Ray:

And I’m guessing, Hannah, that if the person would have come to you and said, “You know what, Hannah, I think these boxes shouldn’t be purple. I think that’s the stupidest color on earth, the worst color on earth.” Not saying it like that, but maybe softer and saying they should be dark blue. That would have been fine. They could still be with you today. But the challenge is, what I’m hearing is how they said it. It was toxic. It was a put down, just to clarify that is that it’s not staff saying, “Hannah, I think we shouldn’t do this.” That’s fine, I’m guessing.

Hannah Perry:

Right. Right. And I always encourage feedback, but no, it was definitely creating a toxic environment with my other members of staff. And there was, sadly when you were among, and it’s not just women, when you have a big group, you experienced people’s personalities clashing and things like that. But our group works very, very well together. We’re like a well-oiled machine. So when somebody does get thrown in that isn’t as, I don’t know, they’re trying to one up people or put people down, then it’s definitely not something that we invite into the group.

Ramon Ray:

Does that go back, Hannah, then to what is the culture, purpose, values, and mission, and et cetera of the Giggling Pig?

Hannah Perry:

Yeah.

Ramon Ray:

Okay. Yeah. Because as you’re hiring that, you’re looking maybe for McDonald’s or for Ramon, this could be a different type, but for our organization, we work this way, so you got to be in the family or you probably wouldn’t be comfortable working here. Is that, I’m guessing?

Hannah Perry:

Right. Well, I actually say that now when I’m interviewing, because I just hired a bunch of people for the summer. Because today, our summer camp, we have between 60 and 80 people a day, children a day. So, we have to have over staff in the summer. And I always say to them, “We’re a family. We’re here to not just teach the kids, but everybody needs to be coming in, being happy to be here. And this is the environment.” And I say it to the kids every morning at camp, we have a meeting and I say, “What’s the number one rule at the Giggling Pig?” And everybody knows that it’s kindness and then to have fun. And I want that for the staff too, is kindness amongst each other and then have fun with the kids. So that’s definitely the core of who we are.

Hiring A Management Team

Ramon Ray:

How did you grow, Hannah, between being the solo business owner, doing everything yourself? I’m assuming there was a point you could have started having a few people with you, but especially now as you grow, Hannah can’t do everything. Even if you like it, you may have wanted, Hannah, “I love rinsing out the brushes, this is what I love doing.” But you can’t, if you rinse out the brushes …

Hannah Perry:

No.

Ramon Ray:

So, when was that tipping point where you knew, “Okay, I’m going to have to let this go, or I may have to have a VP or a COO.” Help us understand how you’ve done it and then what we can learn as we’re growing, when we should know that we’re going to have to have, I guess, management in place, as it were. Help us understand that.

Hannah Perry:

Yeah. So for me, I just kept outgrowing my location. So when I first started, I was very, very small because I didn’t know, like I said, I thought it was going to be a gallery. Then the business developed, then I moved into a thousand square feet and then that outgrew, and then I moved into 2000 square feet, which is my max. I don’t want to get bigger than this in one location. But then I realized I can’t keep up with the phone calls and I can’t keep up with the emails because if I’m doing just phone calls and emails alone, it’s a full-time job. So then my website is not getting updated, then I can’t do my lesson plans and I can’t plan for the events. So as I got busier and I knew that things were being passed over to the next day, I realized that then that was when I needed to start hiring people to help me take care of more technical things.

Hannah Perry:

So now what I try and do is I delegate the things that I know other people can do. And I focus on the things that are really what the Giggling Pig stand for on the brand. So I focus on the lessons and the characters and the development of the merchandise. And I focus on that stuff because nobody else can do that. Because that’s my vision. And then everybody does all the other stuff. So it works really well. And sometimes even now I’m like, “I need someone else to do the website for me.” But, I enjoy it. I find time.

Ramon Ray:

You’re the Disney or whoever, the producer, the visionary. And when do you think, unless you have already, that you will have another layer of management? Because even that as you grow, now, there’s some things that if that’s the vision where you’re the producer side, where do you think you’ll grow to the point where somebody is running the business with you or for you? If you understand what role, if you’re growing, you’re going to still need a management layer, I’m guessing. If it’s not now, at some point soon.

Hannah Perry:

Well, I do hope in the next two years to have the ability and if business continues to grow, which I hope because we’ve just passed our 10 year mark, but I will be able to hire a manager that will work full time taking care of all the day-to-day stuff. Even though I do have a manager, it’s almost like I need another manager to take care of more stuff. So I do hope in the next two years, because I am on this new track to take the business to the next level. So I really want that to go in that direction so that I can focus on that. And there’s always millions of things I’m trying to juggle.

Ramon Ray:

Absolutely. And since you opened the door for that, as we come to maybe the end of this discussion, but anything else you want to touch on, let me know. Well, I know what’s next. Next, is the vision is so I’m going to repeat it, so I hear right. A, you have a location now that Hannah’s going to run and grow and fine tune, et cetera. And you already have another, you have your first franchise location.

Hannah Perry:

Yes.

Ramon Ray:

And is that the roadmap for Hannah and team to grow this one? And then the second part, another part of the business, at least as I understand it from people I’ve talked to is franchising is a business to itself. Is that correct?

Hannah Perry:

Yeah. I would like to hire a team where someone’s in charge of selling my franchises and then I go in and do all the training and everything. But I actually am on a path that’s a little bit different now where I I’m pitching the Giggling Pig as a children’s show. So I really want the messaging to be heard more by parents. And I think that now’s the time more than ever that kids are really listening to the right things on TV from preschool age and understanding about kindness and compassion. So I’ve been pitching that for some time now, so I’m actually waiting to hear back from PBS this week.

Ramon Ray:

Nice. So, that means possibly the next time we talk.

Hannah Perry:

You never know.

Ramon Ray:

We’ll know if a yes or no, and knowing Hannah, she’s just going to say, “Okay, PBS, we’re going to Fox, CBS, CNN, ABC, or whatever.” So we’ll talk on that and can’t wait to hear the news. And then the franchising and how’s that going? What’s it like? How was that process? Brief, we can touch on franchising on a whole nother episode, but I’m curious to tease that a bit. What was that like? What was the franchising business like?

Hannah Perry:

It was stressful. Lucky for me, my brother used to franchise, so I did get a lot of help from him and his partner or lawyer who gave me a lot of input over the years so that I was actually preparing to be franchised very slowly over a number of years. I wasn’t just doing it all at once. I’d already trademarked and done everything, but it was actually just very stressful the day off and going in with the lawyers and sitting down and signing the papers because it felt like I was giving up a piece of me. And even though I know it was going to good hands, it felt like almost bittersweet, I was sad because it was like my baby. It was a part of what I’ve spent my entire life working towards and all my experiences and everything that I’ve ever gone through helped be a part of developing this business. So it felt a little bit sad, but I’m very proud of us. She’s doing a great job of it. And I’m very glad that I did it.

Ramon Ray:

Awesome. Hannah Perry, give us your website address one more time and anything I didn’t ask you, if you want to mention, as we conclude this first discussion. This has been awesome.

Hannah Perry:

Thank you. The website is thegigglingpig.com and from that page on the Giggling Pig, you can find every social media outlet. So you’ll be able to find the Facebook and the Instagram and everything right there on the home page.

Ramon Ray:

Awesome. And until next time, Hannah Perry, this is Ramon Ray, founder of smarthustle.com. Thanks for joining us, all of you on the Smart Hustle podcast.

 

The post Hannah’s Journey. Why She’s Franchising Her Art and Party Studio appeared first on SmartHustle.com.

Source: Smart Hustle

 

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