(AD Disclaimer: This blog post was written in paid partnership with Crissy Sanders)
Crissy Sanders is the founder of Sanders Street dance school. During this Berkshire Mumpreneur interview we find out more about Crissy, her business and her advice to other small business owners.
Tell me briefly about your business?
Hello, I’m Crissy, founder of Sanders Street – an authentic street dance school which prides itself on being fully inclusive. We teach the 5 main styles of street dance which include, hip hop, breaking, house, popping and locking. And we welcome students from ages 3 up to 103! Our 3 main focuses are to provide classes that can be accessible to absolutely anyone, give children the ability to have a confident, positive mindset and to improve health in young people alongside creativity. We operate in and around the Royal Borough with most of our classes in Maidenhead. Our community classes are also available in Datchet, Burnham and Cox Green. And we visit lots of schools in RBWM for after school clubs and workshops too.
Tell me briefly about yourself and your family?
I grew up in Maidenhead and went to a local dance school before training full time at a dance college in Scotland where I gained my degree in Professional Stage Dance. I worked as a professional dancer through my early twenty’s with a few films, music videos and live performances under my belt! After performing I realised I wanted to do more, so I took a course with Urban Strides and gained an Advanced Diploma in Performing Arts (teaching) and it was this course that really started the Sanders Street adventure.
I’m a super lucky mother to 2 beautifully sassy girls, with an incredibly patient and supportive partner called Beau. The four of us make a very special team!
When did you set up your business and why?
In 2013 I was 25 years old, stuck moving from job to job every 6 months with no real lust for life or purpose and I decided what would really light a fire in my tummy was building a dance school I wish I’d had when I was younger. A positive place where students could feel like they were part of a family, a second home type vibe! Every time I thought about it I got butterflies so whilst I still lived at home with very little responsibility I went for it.
I really wanted to build something that stepped away from the stereotypical ‘theatrical dance school’, one where someone with SEN or a physical disability would feel at home. I had my nephew in mind after a diagnosis of autism and I wanted to create something he wouldn’t be turned away from as at the time, and much to my horror, many students with SEN were. And just like that Sanders Street was born!
What do you see as the benefits of being self-employed?
Haha this one got me as I would normally answer freedom of flexible working… but it’s 11pm at night and here I am sat at my laptop! Much like most nights as I find it impossible to work when I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old nipping at my heels. However, the flexibility does mean I get a lot of precious time with my girls that I wouldn’t from a 9-5. I don’t answer to anyone (except sassy senior students!) and the earning potential is down to how much I want to work.
There’s pros and cons like any job but for me it’s about an idea or a dream that becomes reality. Nothing more exciting than seeing your thoughts in real time. I also love that my daughters see Mummy working on something she is really passionate about. I hope this will inspire them to follow their dreams when they are older too.
What are your top tips to other parents considering setting up their own business?
I just discussed this one with Beau and it’s easy for me to say ‘just get going’ you won’t ever look back. I was 25, living with my parents and no responsibilities. I had absolutely nothing to lose! 10 years on and I now find it daunting knowing I have two little people who also need me to succeed along with staff with families to feed. That kind of weight is heavy.
But if it’s something you can’t stop thinking about, are passionate about (because you’ll be doing it day in day out to make it work), you have a plan and maybe some financial backing in case mistakes happen (which they will), then honestly go for it!
In the early years my brother shared a quote with me ‘a bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not in the branch itself but in her own wings…’ believing in yourself is the key, and when you don’t, have people around you that will. I couldn’t have done it without many words of encouragement.
What’s next for your business?
Sanders Street is fast approaching a decade in business!!!!! I’m not quite sure how that happened but we are currently planning our biggest show/celebration at Norden Farm Arts Centre. 2023 is going to be a year of celebrations, charity fundraisers and doing what we love. Dancing with as many students as possible!
Next 5 years… maybe we will finally find a commercial property suitable for our own academy. But for now I’m good raising my babies with my current workload!
How do you manage to run your business and look after your family?
Haha have you seen the state of my house!! I don’t half the time… and I often question if I’m good enough for either parts of my life. Running a business for me is a rollercoaster, huge highs and some really rock bottom lows. I have a great support system with friends and family who jump in for childcare whenever we need it. Beau is a dream and cooks meals that keep my brain ticking over every night after I come home late from teaching. It’s all about teamwork, if it takes a village to raise kids it takes a city to do so with a business. I’m so lucky and grateful for those around me who not only help but encourage me to keep going. Even when my brain tells me it’s time to stop the train and get off!
Also, cleaners and turning your phone off help (something I need to do more!)
Finally, what are your top three things to do as a family in Berkshire?
Right we love a team day out so here’s our top 3…
– Black Park is a firm favourite with Beau and the girls. And when I’m not catching up at home with work I join them!
– My girls love animals so a day trip to Odds Farm Park is always a winner with them.
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