At the age of 11, Lauren Kirkbride was to experience a defining moment. She joined Razzamataz Theatre School as a student and made the decision that performing arts was something that she wanted to do throughout her life.
“I had attended dance lessons before but it was only when I joined Razzamataz Carlisle that I got the opportunity to perform in large scale productions,” explains Lauren. “It was such a highlight of the year for me and my teachers really inspired me to think about performing arts as a career.”
After sixth form, Lauren went on to a degree course in Dance Studies at Liverpool University where she gained a first class degree. Throughout her time as a student, she had come to learn that her passion lay in teaching. One of her initial jobs came through Razzamataz as a teacher at the First Choice resorts overseas in 2011 and 2012. She then went on to teach at Razzamataz Penrith followed by Razzamataz Carlisle where she still teaches today. In September 2015, Lauren got the opportunity to take over the Penrith school.
“It was definitely challenging at the beginning but I was ready for the next step in my career,” explained Lauren. “It was a big jump and I knew that it would require a different skill set but I had just finished university and the time felt right to branch out of my comfort zone.”
In the beginning, learning the fundamentals of business and getting to understand the financial side was tricky but with the support of the network, Lauren soon got to grips with it. “It helped that I’m organised and I also had a lot of support from the team at Head Office and the other franchisees,” adds Lauren. “There are elements in business that I find challenging but the training we received together with the resources on offer helped to keep me on track. If I’m ever unsure of anything, there is always someone at Head Office I can speak to.”
Becoming a business owner has allowed Lauren to do things that she never thought possible. “I love the flexibility and creativity that being a Principal brings with it,” says Lauren. “Initially I had reservations about taking over at Penrith because it was a hugely successful school so I had big shoes to fill. But I’ve actually surprised myself and have achieved things since I opened that I never thought possible.”
One of the most appealing elements of running a theatre school is having creative freedom and knowing that two days will never be the same. “I am incredibly proud of what my students are achieving, both professionally and within the school,” says Lauren. “My ambition is to keep building on what we currently have, offer more amazing opportunities such as performing in Disneyland Paris in November and offering new classes such as Razz Tots for two- and three-year olds, which we have recently launched.”
Since becoming the Principal of Razzamataz Penrith, Lauren has never looked back and is thoroughly enjoying her journey from student to teacher to Principal. “For other people considering becoming a Razzamataz franchisee I would say go for it! You need to be prepared for a lot of hard work but you get so much support from the network and all the benefits of working for yourself,” she adds.