Tell me briefly about your business?
My name is Julia Bentley Dawkes and I run Concertini, a family friendly series of Live Music concerts. I started Concertini in 2015 to provide an opportunity for families with young children to go and see really great quality Grown-Up Live Music, to introduce them to all sorts of different styles of live music and musical instruments and to inspire them to take up a musical instrument or join a choir themselves!
Each ‘Concertini’ features a different live musician or ensemble and is produced in a relaxed and enjoyable way. With music designed to appeal to both children and adults, these concerts are joyous, inspiring and never dumbed down. Currently scheduled to take place in venues and schools throughout the Thames Valley concerts last under an hour and are followed by the chance to meet the musicians and their instruments and even have a go!
Tell me briefly about yourself and your family? I live in Cookham with my husband and two children. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a musical family and was inspired to learn the flute at an early age. Playing a musical instrument has given me great joy over the years and and although I chose music as a career I firmly believe that learning an instrument can help with any vocation we choose and the earlier we introduce it the better. When did you set up your business and why? Concertini was launched as part of the Cookham Festival in May 2015 and our early concerts took place at Cookham Rise Methodist Church. We still return every year for our annual Christmas Concertini but the majority of our concerts take place at Norden Farm in Maidenhead as well as local schools and nurseries.
I took my children to lots of fabulous baby and toddler classes when they were little but I was frustrated by the lack of real instruments and proper ‘grown-up’ music. I really wanted to produce something that grown-ups could enjoy just as much as the children.
What do you see as the benefits of being self-employed? I have always worked for myself since I started teaching the flute in my teens. I don’t think I’d cope very well with anyone telling me what to do and it’s great being able to manage work around school hours.
How do you manage to run your business and look after your family? I set some time aside on a Sunday evening to write down what hours I’m going to work, what I want to achieve and most importantly what we’re going to eat each week.
What are your top tips to other parents considering setting up their own business? Do what you Love. Know your numbers. Write a business plan. Network and although you might need to adapt, don’t give up. Also, if at all possible hire a cleaner!
Looking back at your business is there anything you would have done differently? I’ve made some mistakes but my motto in life is ‘The only way to learn is by failing’.
Photo Credit: David Webb
What’s next for your business?
Over the next few years our goal is to produce Concertinis in more and more venues and organisations throughout the Thames Valley. We’re also hoping to make a guest appearance at a major family friendly Music Festival, organise a large scale Charity Concertini and eventually expand across the UK through franchising.
Finally, what are your top three things to do as a family in Berkshire? Norden Farm is our favourite place to be in Berkshire.
A long walk by the River in Cookham followed by a pub lunch at Bel and the Dragon.
We also love Cliveden especially in the summer.
*I was not asked or paid to write this post. I invited Julia to be interviewed for the blog. In terms of disclosure, I have previously been gifted performances to watch at Norden Farm, in exchange for review. Click here to view the Berkshire Mummies disclaimer.