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Introducing our amazing franchisee Emma

Introducing our amazing franchisee Emma

Emma Dawson, Proud Owner of Baby Squids Southampton

It’s been a while since Emma became our second franchisee but she’s had a lot going on! Taking on the franchise with her mum during her divorce was a big and brave move, then came Covid to top off a tricky start. Now with 3 new pools and new teachers under her belt her little empire grows from strength to strength giving her the independence that she has been dreaming of for her and her little girl.

“I’ve always been a keen swimmer with my childhood spent swimming in the sea off the North Devon Coast and turning into a prune on holidays. Little has changed since, as I enjoy swimming lots now for physical and mental wellbeing.

I first came to hear about Baby Squids in 2015 when I had my little girl. My best friend Toni had recommended the classes and I signed up because to me swimming was the most important thing I wanted to do with my baby. I adored bringing my Alissa to swim classes with the lovely Alex in Winchester hospital. She was calm and friendly and made sure we were comfortable with each activity. Those precious moments bonding with Alissa were so special, and we met some great friends in our classes too.

I used to look at Alex’s huge smile as she taught and how she radiated happiness as she sang , and dreamed that I’d feel like that at work one day. I was fortunate enough to spend nearly all my time with my daughter as a stay at home Mum through her early years. Then the time came to decide whether to go back to Early Years Primary school teaching (my previous career). I thought hard about what to do and sent Alex a message. I explained I was going through a divorce and asked if I could pick her brains about her job. I wanted something a little more
flexible than full time teaching again.

Alex put me in touch with Laura and my training began, I adored my course and the time spent orkshadowing, meeting all the gorgeous babies! I was employed with Baby Squids shortly after. I’ll always remember observing the fantastic Baby Squids teachers as part of my further training. I picked up so many great ideas and wrote them all down. I quickly realised I’d joined a big family that look out for each other and share ideas.

I was incredibly excited and nervous on my first day teaching at the Novotel in Southampton in April 2019. I didn’t need to be because I loved every minute of the morning and have done ever since. I absolutely love making sure everyone in my class is enjoying learning in a stimulating multi sensory environment. Coming from an Early Years Teaching background, I fully understand the importance of allowing each child the time and space to develop water skills and safety practises at their own pace, without pressure, whilst ensuring plenty of fun along the way.

As a single Mum starting up in work again, I’d contacted Laura asking if she had any more hours available for me to take on. We met for a coffee and it came up in conversation that the Southampton Baby Squids Franchise was available. I was intrigued but was certain I wouldn’t be able to afford it of course, and things like that happen to other people, not to me. She gave me some information about it regardless and believed in me. Of course, I did my research, comparing to a water babies franchise and other swim franchises I had heard of, but the more research I did, I could really see that where I had started was the opportunity I should pursue. My family said that they’d never seen me so passionate about anything before beginning this job, and after the recent times I’d had with a tricky divorce, thought I deserved a chance to turn my future around.

My close friends were of the same opinion which further encouraged me. My Mum offered to use some of my Nana’s inheritance to pay for the franchise. Both my Nanas’ were incredibly strong women who swam through storms in their lives. That is why it is so poignant that I chose to swim not sink at this time in my life. I imagine them still being with me and how proud they’d both be. It was tough to begin with as I was doing all the swim teaching leaving me all the admin and marketing to do in the evenings when Alissa has gone to bed. This coupled with the joys of extra work for my solicitor for my divorce proceedings was a challenge.

To add to this after just getting going Covid 19 hit. I had to find a lot of resilience and inner strength to ride that storm as we all have done but the Baby Squids team never failed to communicate and thrive even when we couldn’t get in the water.

Now I have to pinch myself, the business hires four swimming pools and I have a great relationship with the staff at each of them. We have a very supportive group of franchisees to help, and a Facebook group of teachers where we share ideas and help support each other.

To be able to have a career this flexible means I can still go on ‘that school trip’ or to ‘that special assembly’ at school. I have created a life that allows me to be there for my little girl as she grows up and enjoy my holidays with her, not to mention be an inspiration to her. She already says she wants to be a Baby Swimming teacher when she is older….. also a dancer, vet, doctor, and hairdresser! So that’s how it all happened. I’m looking forward to continuing to grow this warm, friendly, and highly successful business for many years to come.

Emma x

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