When it comes to the creative side, BabyGigs founder Eleanor Hodgkinson was totally tuned in to the value of high quality, live music for children. Classical pianist and teacher Eleanor always knew her business, founded in Market Harborough, had potential but her busy schedule of teaching, performing and a new baby left her with concerns about capacity as her concert series grew in popularity.
BabyGigs, which celebrated its fifth birthday recently, provides classical concerts for babies, young children and their families. These concerts are fun, interactive, family friendly and most importantly allow noise and movement from the young audience. Since inception BabyGigs has given over 200 concerts in venues across the Midlands, with instruments ranging from flutes to double bass and bass trombone to harp.
Eleanor, a sought-after soloist and chamber musician herself is a graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music. She was initially hoping for some basic financial advice when she contacted Collaborate, the business support project for small and medium-sized businesses in Leicestershire.
Eleanor was organising and performing in 25 different concerts in a year and struggling to sustain her concert series at multiple venues with a viable financial model and limited external support. Artistically she also wanted to start going in a different direction and explore partnerships with schools and wanted time to develop educational musical stories into shows.
Through free business advice from Collaborate adviser, Bev Shephard of Creative Leicestershire, Eleanor looked in-depth at her business strategy, resources and finances. She was helped to streamline the operation which has led to expansion of her concert series into new geographical areas.
Eleanor said: “Collaborate has helped transform BabyGigs. Having the opportunity to discuss the business in-depth was invaluable. I was constantly challenged and as an artist it was great to be able to step back and view the business wearing a different hat. More focused administration has led to a big increase in audience numbers, with several sell out concerts and an increase in turnover by 75%”
Bev Shephard commented: “It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Eleanor. Through examining her business and supporting her to develop her strategy and plan, we’ve been able push forward into the next phase of growth, focussing on her musical stories. Eleanor has been able to develop some great new partnerships and opportunities that importantly, are enabling her to realise even more of her artistic ambitions within the context of the business.”
In the future, under her brand KoolGigs, Eleanor will develop partnerships with the Leicestershire Music Hub and local schools to deliver live concerts for primary and special needs children. She is also realising her ambitions to develop her musical stories and shows for tours and educational projects.
Collaborate is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and partners, Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) and the Food and Drink Forum.
The project offers free, impartial business advice along with a programme of workshops and seminars to businesses in Leicester and Leicestershire. Further details here.