Huge congratulations to Victoria Cooper Jones, franchise partner at Razzamataz Queens Park and Razzamataz Belsize Park, who is celebrating her fifth anniversary. Victoria changed careers when her children were teenagers and has never looked back. This is her story.
In the beginning
I was a professional ballet dancer but had to stop through injury. Although I had a career in interior design, I never gave up with the performing side and I taught dance to adults and then children. Through teaching, I realised that I wanted to take this further and have a school that I could call my own and enrich the lives of the students, offering something for children from all walks of life and giving them the opportunity to benefit from the life skills that performing arts offer. My sister worked in TV and she had a children’s franchise in this area and suggested I do the same. She actually found Razzamataz, and it was all go from then on.
Describe the community at Razzamataz
Simply we are a family. I have a fantastic group of supportive parents, who really appreciate what we do and are 100% behind us. It’s lovely to see the strong bonds of friendship that the students have with one another and how they all pull together to be part of a team. There’s a lovely camaraderie at the school as well as ambition from the students who look up to the Senior age group, who in turn, help out with the younger ones.
One student sticks out in particular for the incredible journey that he’s been on. Riley has severe autism and his parents contacted me about attending with his support worker. I gave him a couple of trial sessions to see how he would cope, and in the beginning, he struggled to settle, often tapping walls or moving chairs. But right from the start, he clearly had a love for drama so I sat down with his support worker, and we formulated a plan that in dance and singing, we would try and get him to participate for five to ten minutes and in drama, he could just do as he liked. The hope was that we could gradually increase his participation and by the end of his second term, he was not only fully immersed in all the classes, Razzamataz became his world so I was delighted that I could offer him Student of the Year at our annual awards. The skills that he has learnt has changed his life, from the way he holds a conversation to a positive mindset, I’m so proud of everything that he has achieved.
My teachers and staff are brilliant, and we are very much a team, I value their input and what they say, which ensures they feel included in the schools. The showcases and West End show give us a chance to really work together, and the structure is a team effort. I also have a Senior student helping with one of my Minis classes. It’s wonderful because this work experience helped him achieve his Silver Duke of Edinburgh award and he is now working on the Gold level. Plus, the little ones adore him.
Stand out experiences
The first time the students performed in a West End theatre was magical. The experience of the performance at Her Majesty’s Theatre was wonderful and we learnt so much. Last December, we were once again in the West End at the Shaftesbury Theatre and the level had really gone up. Prior to the pandemic, we often performed Christmas extravaganzas in local care homes which was lovely for the students but also the residents and staff who all joined in.
Perseverance. When the going gets tough, the tough get going! I always try and take a positive from any negative situation and although at the time it doesn’t seem possible, when you look back and reflect you can see how much you can learn when something doesn’t turn out as you think.
Lifestyle versus building a business
I became part of the Razzamataz network when my children were teenagers, which has worked so well for me because I can fit work around whatever is happening with them. During lockdown, they both struggled with their mental health, as did a lot of teens, so it was important that I could be around for them. It’s a bit of a family business now as they will often help with costumes during show time or whenever I need an extra pair of hands.
Support through Razzamataz
In my experience, this is a fab network and there is always someone you can fall back on and get help. Denise and Charlotte in Head Office has always been so supportive, and their wealth of experience means they can help you straight away with any problems you might have. Other franchisees are great too and I’ve made some amazing friends, particularly with Marc, who runs Razzamataz Hackney and Radlett. He’s become one of my best friends, which is lovely at this stage in my life.
Advice for others
If you have the drive and the will then you should go for it. There’s a lot of help with training, mentoring and support and although it might not always be easy, there is always someone there for you. You must believe in yourself and put in the work but if you do, you will achieve something amazing.
I’m at the stage now where I can start offering some of the Razzamataz add-ons such as Razz Project Intense. I also want to continue to help more students that want to take performing arts more seriously and support them with auditions and college applications. We already have a good name within the local community and I’m looking to expand on this further and become a local flagship school.
Become a franchise partner
We are looking for dynamic partners to own a Razzamataz Theatre School as well as teachers and assistants.
If you are looking to make a difference in your local community to the lives of young people and you have a passion for performing arts, we would love to hear from you.
Secure your place to find out more!
Join us NOW for a 2023 launch and make the most of the last few weeks before our fee increases to £12,995 plus VAT from April 2023.
Training starting Monday 27th February to Saturday 4th March 2023 for a September 2023 launch!
Contact us to secure your place on our next short informal virtual Discovery Dens
To book contact 07821 122242 or click here to book your place