Chris Talbot takes to the stage

Since opening LIPA 4:19 New Forest/Southampton in September, Chris Talbot has gone from strength to strength and is already making steps to be a huge success

Working in Workforce Development for the Local Government, delivering and providing training for young children isn’t a world away from the skills and experience required for the running and development of a LIPA 4:19 academy.

Chris Talbot worked in the children’s services sector her whole life, starting out as a qualified teacher at 21 teaching young children all subjects including music, which is what became her first love. Seeing the children grow and develop in this subject is what has stayed with Chris from the start.

“I’ve always had a personal love of performing arts,” says Chris. “I’ve worked with young people all my life and my aim has always been providing opportunities for kids to grow.”

The New Forest/Southampton-based franchise currently is only a part-time academy for Chris as she continues to work for the Government four days a week. Over time she hopes that the academy will become a full-time organisation and ultimately her retirement business.

Before setting up the franchise, like most new franchise owners, she took her time when it came to the research process. Chris knew she wanted to stay in the children’s services sector and went straight to the bfa to research all the possible accredited franchises in her chosen area.

“It was actually quite simple,” recalls Chris. “I knew the sort of franchise I was looking for and went down the entire list of members in that industry on the bfa website and just started my thorough research, going through and speaking to everyone.”

When asked what closed the deal for her and why LIPA 4:19 was so different to the other franchises she had considered, Chris explains: “I immediately felt comfortable. Everyone was friendly and approachable and the business model was structured. A performing arts teaching institute comes from the same professional world as I do, we speak the same language.”

The training that Chris received only a few months ago focused on the fundamentals of running this business and she explains it has been a key help in the first few months of setting up. “The training was very focused and key to what you needed to know. The great thing about the training process is that it’s all there to refer back to when you need it. Ultimately, it’s your business and each LIPA 4:19 has its own identity, so it is up to you to develop it.”

The academy has only been running for a few months, but from listening to Chris’ plans and her passion for the group, you can see this is only set to grow.

“My aim at the end of the first term was to have 15 enrolments to the academy and already we have 13, so we are on our way and I hope following this good start we will continue to grow.” Chris shows both passion and talent for developing and enriching the lives of young children, essential for creating motivation and growth in this franchise sector.

“What I loved about the opportunity with LIPA 4:19 is that this business would firstly be something I totally enjoy,” explains Chris. “It’s working with young children which is where my experience and profession lies and performing arts, like no other subject, provides something unique and vital life skills to these children. It gives them confidence, communication and teamwork skills; it gives them the ability to present themselves. They may grow up aspiring to a profession related to what they have learned with me.”

Chris adds that even if a child’s experience at LIPA doesn’t become their profession, it will always be a fulfilling hobby that can be developed within a local amateur group, wherever life takes them.

“A lot of the children who join LIPA 4:19 come from different schools, and when they come here they’ve never met before, so we’re providing another platform to make friends and grow,” explains Chris. “It’s a community and it always brings me such joy to see the children interact and get the ‘bug’ for performing.”

LIPA 4:19 is a franchise unlike others, where you can have fun, do something you love and give back to the community while running a business.

Each LIPA 4:19, as Chris explains, does have its own identity, some work as further education colleges, some work inside of schools, all have different focuses and every individual will come from a different background in the education field. What makes LIPA 4:19 so unique is that it does work with schools and colleges. Chris says: “If a franchise is working with schools and Government organisations, it shows it is accredited and worth investigating.

“Before signing the contract, I spoke to every other franchise owner of LIPA 4:19 and listened to all of them to get a better understanding of exactly how it is. We all have different issues but we are all there to work together and learn from.”

Chris explains that all the franchise owners have similar personality traits, all vital to owning this franchise.

“It takes a huge amount of hard work to set up. You need to be able to take the knocks, sort the problems out, be self-motivated, creative, organised, self-driven and always seek help when you need it.”

Chris’ ultimate plan is to create a place for children and young people to grow, develop, find something they enjoy and belong somewhere in the performing arts community. She hopes that her new venture will only increase in popularity and word of mouth will express what a fantastic academy this is to the New Forest area. When Chris retires in the future, her aim is to continue LIPA 4:19 and create a retirement business and ultimately continue what she loves; teaching.