The Creation Station

The Creation Station

What inspired you to develop the Creation Station brand?

You could say it all started with a lack of chocolate.

As a little girl, I was inspired by my mum to achieve whatever I put my mind to. For eight-year-old Sarah, this meant more chocolate. I wrote a comic with the superhero being a well-known chocolate bar, and the lovely people of Cadbury’s sent me a big box of chocolate. 

I learnt the power of believing in myself and having a goal, even when you have no idea how to achieve it.

I achieved a successful career in management and loved delivering exceptional customer experiences and enjoyed making and selling function artworks including glass fused bowls, concrete clock. Whilst working in Zimbabwe on Operation Raleigh on a sabbatical for a year, I was offered a job helping local women run their own creative businesses, so for a year I decided to pursue my passion for creative activities. What a perfect job! However, I felt I needed to develop my own business and creative skill before I supported anyone else. I returned to London, popped on some bravery boots, resigned and became a designer maker including commissions for Greenpeace and a mural at Charing-Cross Station. I developed and ran workshops for people with head injuries and disabilities and saw the hugely positive effect of creative activities.

When I became a mum to Sam, Ollie and Josh, I recognised the lack of activities that nurtured each child's own individual curiosity. It seemed more about putting information in rather than nurturing what was within to blossom.

It was through this that I developed educationally based creative arts and crafts programmes, with the support of my three boys, Sam, Ollie and Josh as the chief testers, Duncan my husband, and my tech-savvy sister, Fran Long. 

This was back in 2002, and from there it went well and there was more to do. Demand was high and through working with the British Franchise Association, when Josh started school in 2007, I awarded my first Creation Station franchise to Louise Radford. 

The demand for creative activities continues to increase and year on year we have listened to our customer and franchise owner requests, increased our range of activities and extended our UK coverage.

What are the key drivers for innovation at Creation Station?

Ideas are the currency of the 21st century and we are doing our very best to nurture creativity and unlock potential.

Many of the ideas come through the children and people within our family – this includes customers, franchise owners and Creative Hub team. We have lots of channels to listen to what works well and a culture of creating 1% improvements. We have strong core values and this provides a solid framework from which to grow and to guide our decision making processes to ensure we add value. We always run pilots for new upcoming innovations to gain a deep understanding of strengths, challenges, opportunities and risks. When the ideas come from the franchisees, they are then the idea owners, and when the new concept is launched, it is launched as such.

Personally, I get my ideas from listening, my environment, the people around me and staying playful!

What are the key innovations you have brought in recently and what effect have these had on your franchisees and business?

With the support of our franchise owners and partners, we have developed an increased range of experiences to help inspire more imaginations and to cross-sell services to our customers. 

In response to the growing trend in adult crafting, we launched Creative Crafter - a fun creative event for adults. This includes ladies night with Prosecco and crafts in a local pub, or craft afternoons for retired groups with tea, cake and crafts in a garden centre as well as bespoke events.

We also launched Tiny Treasures, our new creative baby craft keepsakes. This was our Isle of Wight franchisees idea, Emma Theunsisson. These craft events help us build relationships with new parents and the opportunity to provide further creative activities for the child as they grow and develop. We also help these new mums meet other like-minded people at a fun evening with our Creative Crafters events. 

With the squeeze on creativity in schools, we developed our after school Create Club programmes to provide creative after school clubs. This has been a game changer for many franchise owners doubling their annual profit.

Schools have greatly valued us providing our fun, educational and creative programmes and we do get rave reviews from the children and parents – they LOVE our Create Clubs. This has helped our franchisees to gain significantly more extra birthday party bookings.

We have also increased the range of our crafts products to 13,000 and have increased our warehouse capacity and fulfilment team. This gives our franchise network a greater range of safe tried and tested products to use with a reliable and committed delivery service and at wholesale prices.

Overall the impact of providing additional creative activities that help franchisees cross-sell their other services and reducing the products costs has resulted in an overall increase in turnover and profit. 

What plans do you have for the future?

Lots! We have lots of ideas and are very proactive. We also believe in 1% improvements so it’s not just about big ideas but fine tuning what we do to help our customers access fun and positive creative activities as well as supporting our franchise owners to run their own successful fulfiling and proactive franchise. 

Can you tell us more about the partnerships you have had with big brands such as Play-Doh and Lego?

We believe strongly in power of creativity and nurturing potential through creative experiences.

Our weekly experiences touch over 16,500 children and families. The tried and tested, hands-on practical art and crafts classes, parties and events are delivered right across the UK, by trained, DBS checked, Health and Safety, First Aid trained and very lovely, local franchise owners.

It’s clear that we take our brand values and creative fun very seriously. I feel this is why we resonate with iconic brands like Play-Doh and Lego. We develop, test and deliver activities that are on-brand and align with our partners and our own core values. 

We feel very privileged to have these opportunities and give our fab customers additional creative experiences that they may not have had the opportunity to enjoy before.

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