STEPHANIE WALLIS: With a background in childcare and running crèches, Stephanie Wallis couldn’t resist the lure of buying specialist firm Safe and Sound Event Childcare
Tell us about your business…
The business started originally in January 2006 and had been running for about five years before I bought it in March 2011, when the previous owner decided to move back into full-time childcare. The opportunity was too good to miss. It came with four bookings. After rebranding with a new website, logo and other collateral, it has grown to the point where we now have more than 150 bookings per year.
Can you run me through a typical day?
Every day is different. There are no two days alike…
What’s been the highlight for your business so far?
Winning the entertainment award in the Four Counties Wedding Awards, for local suppliers in the Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Cambridgeshire areas in 2015. This was recognition of the hard work and dedication, long hours and patience.
What’s the strangest request you’ve had from a customer?
The parents and family of the children can be the ‘strange’ part of the job. We have had inebriated grooms come back from the reception for a nap and never return to the wedding. We’ve also walked 20 children up the aisle waving gerberas (flowers) and sent two little boys dressed as Spiderman up to their parents at the wedding breakfast to give them special presents.
What was the most unusual booking you’ve had?
In 2014, the Belgian artist Carsten Höller transformed the Gagosian Gallery’s stand at Frieze, Regents Park, London, into a playground, including a giant dice, a toy octopus and a squishy mushroom that rocked. We were hired to look after the children. He even designed our uniform to match the set.
What one thing couldn’t your business function without?
My awesome team. We have a total of 30 staff, several of whom have been with me since day one. And the gorgeous children.
What’s the best thing about working for yourself?
In theory I can choose my own working hours and fit everything around my family. In practice it’s different. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.
What do you wish you’d known when you started out?
That I would need a degree in logistics. Trying to get people and equipment to different venues and locations can be challenging.
If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?
I’d have more time. Picking up an existing business meant I had to run with it. I would love to have gained more business acumen first.
How does your FSB membership help?
The unique business banking package has been invaluable and offers great benefits. There are no monthly service charge or charges for everyday banking. We’re also looking to take advantage of the regional networking events this year.
Where will the business be in five years’ time?
A full event company for family and children’s events, tailored to suit requirements, whether it be celebration, wedding or corporate events.
What do you do outside work?
As my hours can be unsociable, whenever I have any free time it has to be spending time with my husband and twin boys.