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Membership History

Associate Member
Joined 2016
Active Board Member

Membership History

Associate Member
Joined 2016
Active Board Member

Company Overview

The multi-award-winning Creation Station franchise inspires imaginations and nurtures potential through fun and educational art and craft experiences.

We have been privileged to help inspire over one and a half million children, families and adults. When you join our family you have exclusive access to provide our eleven all year round income streams. These include fun and educational pre-school classes, after school clubs, parties, new-born craft keepsakes, adult craft events and family event entertainment.

Established in 2002, our customers and franchise partners have rated us 5-Star.

  • We are THE most recommended art and craft activity business in the UK
  • Franchise partners rated us 5-Star in a satisfaction survey
  • We are ranked number 38 in the top 100 Elite franchises

Our recognition in the entertainment, education and franchising sectors  includes:

Winner  of the most supportive

  • Top three out of 5,000 companies in Richard Branson’s Impact Award
  • Winner Excellence and Innovation – Children’s Education Services
  • Winner Best Franchise Children’s Services – Best Franchise Awards
  • Winner Best Website – Franchise Marketing Awards
  • Winner Best Franchisee Marketing Support
  • Winner Sylvia Anderson Award for Creativity
  • Winner Best Creative Play Award
  • Winner ‘Crème de la Crème’ Business Award

“The Creation Station’s creative activities are a force for good in the community” Richard Branson

We know that by supporting our fabulous franchise partners we can create a greater  positive impact  through the power of creativity.

Franchise Overview

The Creation Station was established in 2002 by mum-of-three and multi-award-winning entrepreneur Sarah Cressall. Sarah wanted to give children the opportunity to explore, discover and develop their own skills, ideas and confidence to give them a solid foundation for their life’s journey. Due to the increasing squeeze on creativity in education, and the growth of adult crafting, The Creation station has seen a phenomenal increase in demand for classes, parties, events and adult crafts.

Franchise Tailored To Suit Your Level Of Ambition

We have a family of 70 franchise partners across the UK who are achieving the flexibility, fulfilment and financial rewards they want.

Some of our franchise partners are parents who want more flexibility; and control  over their working hours, doing something rewarding and benefiting from their own hard work.

Some of our franchise partners have an existing business within the leisure or entertainment sector and want to complement their existing range of activities.

Comprehensive range of activities for children  and adults.

With increasing demand for creativity in all areas of learning, leisure and life, there is huge scope to build your business.

Here are the some of the activities that your Creation Sttaion franchise includes:

Families – this includes Tiny Treasures craft keepsakes, Baby Discover, Little Explorer & Family Fun classes.

Education – this includes After School Clubs, Holiday Clubs, Saturday Clubs, Home Education and School Workshops.

Adults – this includes Creative Crafter sessions, Crafternoon Tea for retired groups, Care & Creativity for the elderly and Intergenerational Workshops.

Plus you can deliver parties and events in your area too.

You can rest assured with the UKs leading creativity activity company, you will gain the training and on-going support to help you run your own business to achieve your own sense of fulfilment, as well as personal and financial goals.

Training

Comprehensive training includes five days at Creative Hub HQ in Devon, and covers the operational, business and marketing aspects of running your own successful franchise. This is followed with one-to-one calls and a three-month period of hand-holding with our dedicated franchise support manager, Fran Long.

All further training is free and includes business booster days and success summits. Ongoing support includes one-to-one calls with business development managers plus weekly, themed conference calls.

How you will be supported

From your very first steps with The Creation Station team, you will receive tailored training and support to give you the knowledge, confidence and skills to run your own successful Creation Station franchise.

This includes:

  • Your own bespoke exclusive territory
  • Comprehensive initial training and support
  • Your own dedicated business buddy
  • Regular 8-week one-to-one business mentoring calls
  • Fortnightly masterclass training
  • Exclusive membership to our discounted shop with 10,000+ craft supplies
  • Operations and Marketing support
  • £2000 start-up kit included in your investment
  • Your own state of the art booking and business management system
  • Detailed Treasure Trove with all your tried and tested session plans, marketing assets, business templates and more.

100% of Franchise partners have rated the initial training, local and head office  support as 5-star.

Daily Life of a franchisee

Some mornings you will be involved in running hands-on art & craft classes for children, often working in partnership with local community organisations. Afternoons you will be involved in running after-school clubs or managing your team to deliver these.

You will spend some of your time marketing, networking and quoting for events and parties. As your business grows, you have the option to take on staff to scale your business. Or if you already have a team we will include your team in our state of the art training programme.  You will be part of team who are incredibly supportive so there is help at hand when you need it.

Ten Questions about Branding with Creation Station

Branding – how did you develop The Creation Station brand and how do you manage it now is a national recognise brand.  

The bfa recently spoke with Sarah Cressall CEO of The Creation Station to discuss their prominent branding, and why they believe this helps their franchise.

Creation Station have brought creativity into all areas of learning leisure and life since 2002.

 At what stage did you realise Creation Station had become a brand in your sector?

It was when we started getting calls from brands that I greatly admired to work with them. We now work with great international brands including Lego, Hasbro, Disney, Usborne and other great family friendly brands.

 Our logo concept was created with my 3-year-old son. I wanted our imagery  to reflect creativity and connection.  It’s an image of our two hands connecting,

Its fondly known as the splat but when you look closely to can see our ten digits!

I love that our identity has  such a strong foundation in so many ways.

When developing your brand, did you have a marketing and brand strategy in place? And if so, at what stage did you implement it?

I ran my own Creation Station franchise for five years before franchising back in 2002, during our very first year we created our brand values. They are fundamentally the same now and they continue to underpin our purpose.

This has hugely helped navigate our business journey. They have helped us grow, attract and support the right franchisee partner for our brand. They also help our franchise partners grow their business too.

How has operating a franchised brand benefited your franchisees in the short and long term?

Our brand is about inspiring imaginations and nurturing creativity. We bring creativity into all areas of learning leisure and life.

Our identity is quite recognisable. But with any brand it so much more than a logo - it’s about the culture and how you deliver on your brand promise. Our values and how we operate has helped us select and award our Franchise to people who share our passion and purpose.

We have very good national reach and people have heard of us or seen us, offline or online.

The benefit of clarity of purpose has enabled us to make a difference in new markets.  We now support all ages including senior citizens in care homes and living at home initiatives. This means we can stay true to what we believe in and make a difference to a wider audience.

Is brand training incorporated into new franchisees training programme and do you have brand guidelines in place?

Absolutely.  Our brand values introduction is the first part of our Creation Station Academy training programme.  They are interwoven throughout training.

It’s quite simple really. For us the focus is “not what we make but how we make people feel”. As well as ensure the activities are epic, for us it’s taking the time to make eye contact, to smile, to be interested in other people. The little things are the big things.

We recruit our creative hub head office team based on our values and live by these values. It means we care for each other and our franchise owners. It is always commented on at training how people feel recognised and valued by everyone in the team.

So, we walk the talk and demonstrate how to give care and respect. From how we speak to a caretaker of a venue to how we conduct a client meeting and of course how we deliver a fun, engaging creative experience.

Yes, we do have brand guidelines.

We lead a team of people who quite like being creative, so we are mindful of providing guidelines and a framework for them to flex their own creativity if they want to. We need to ensure we all stay on brand so we have technology to support this. We have a great brand demand system for adverts, which means franchisees can edit and create branded adverts and assets within a wide range of templates.

We have created a new marketing portal so franchisees can access their monthly toolkit of resources. We run regular photos shoots and provide guidance on creating imagery to capture the experiences, so our franchise owners have what they need to tell a story.

How do you monitor franchisees and ensure they adhere to brand guidelines in their on- and off-line marketing?

We actively listen and respond to our franchise partners on social media. Our franchise support managers monitor, visit and run regional meetings. We follow up our Trustpilot reviews from customers and survey our customers too.

As the franchisor, you set the tone and voice of the brand, how do you ensure franchisees meet/match these in their service delivery?

We award our franchise to people who share our values and purpose. We only award to two percent of enquirers. We run a profile to help identify training areas.

Helping franchise owners feel part of the big picture and brand is important.

Regular communication, local level, regional and national- and that’s across the whole business.

We ensure the communication comes from all the support team. This includes  videos from the delivering happiness team - that’s our warehouse team. These are fun and always include great deals.  Fortnightly masterclass and regular zooms help to keep us all connected. Our Facebook group is very active and the team comment on here. If we see things are not going right, we pick up the phone or go and visit. Early intervention and support, helps a franchisee achieve their goals and grow their business. 

When selling a franchise, how important is it for franchisees to share some of the core values and principles that lay at the heart of your brand?

Absolutely critical.

We have been able to inspire over 1.8 million children and adults because of our great family to franchise owners.

Has your brand stayed the same since its inception or has it evolved?

The core values we created have strengthened. I often say if you cut through our business, they run right through like the words in a piece of rock. Like any rope the more string threads you have joining up the stronger the rope. I believe we are better together and there is great value in being part of something bigger than yourself.

We refreshed our imagery in 2018 and now have a more modern, bright and warm image. We have carried our rebranding right through our sub brands and imagery too. From the look of our Facebook profile pictures to style of images shared on social. We now look more like the family we are.

Our income streams have increased significantly.

As well as baby and toddler classes, parties and after school clubs, we now provide new born tiny treasure keepsakes, crafts club creative day in schools, creative crafter events for adults and creative well-being workshops for older people.

To maintain standards and supply chain management we have two warehouses and over 13,000 products on our online store. These are available to our franchise owners at a reduced price and to the public.

Do you think brands need refreshing? And if so, how often do you re-fresh your brand?

Yes, I do. Things change and you must adapt and respond to changing and emerging markets.

We have been fortunate not to have had to change our purpose. That is something that I recommend all business owners to spend time working on. When you know your purpose and the values linked with this, it helps with everything.

Finally, if I asked 10 different people what their definition of a brand is, I’d probably get 10 different answers, what’s your own definition of a brand?

As you say there are lots of descriptions around how your brand looks, feels and operates. So perhaps the best description of a brand is what your customer says about you today. Because for that one customer that’s all the matters.

The Creation Station was established in 2002 by mum-of-three and multi-award-winning entrepreneur Sarah Cressall. They now have a network of 70 franchisees across the UK and in Ireland and have been privileged to help inspire over 1.8 million  children and adults. For more information, please visit their Members Directory on our website: https://www.thebfa.org/members/creation-station/

Claire Darnley

 “I swapped the suit, desk and briefcase for glitter, glue and clay!”

I wanted a business which could grow and adapt alongside my family life. Having really enjoyed event management, I wanted my family and I to benefit from my hard work and I wanted to use my skills to build a successful business that I could grow and call my own.

I came across the Creation Station and got really excited about the potential. With 7 all year round income streams and with the backing of a tried and tested franchise model I could see this really working for me.

I knew first hand there is a huge squeeze on creativity in schools and there are not many creative arts and crafts activities for children to enjoy. The cross selling opportunities between the classes, parties and events to local families provide a good referral system for me to be able to grow and scale a successful business.

After I received the information pack and attended a free and informative discovery event, I made the decision to pursue my goal of running my own successful business with a company I trusted. So after my initial training, which was really informative and inspiring, I started 2015 with 6 sessions and an average of 50 customers. I have employed staff and have our award winning art and craft classes running in the morning and after school clubs in the afternoon, from here we get lots of party bookings, as well as retail opportunities. By the end of the year I had 12 sessions running and an average of 100 customers. I had doubled my Creation Station business within 6 months and I feel there is so much more potential

I was over the moon with my success. It gave me the drive and self-belief to expand my business by running afterschool clubs and managing a small team who would take over and deliver the sessions for me. I am excited that my business has grown with me and my family at a pace which suits us. I finally feel like I am in charge of my own future with the exciting prospect of many revenue streams and avenues which I have yet to explore.

Lisa Hagg

I enjoyed a successful career in banking but I didn’t really see want to stay in the industry for the next 20 years. My focus changed when I had my two girls; I wanted something that was more me and had more flexibility. It was important for me to also be a good role model for my girls. I believe you can achieve what you want in life if you are focused and work hard.

I looked at a lot of franchises and the professionalism of Creation Station jumped out at me. I requested the info pack and wanted to find out more so I went to a Discovery morning. I saw a class, chatted to other franchisees, did the figures and research my local area. I could see the huge potential and it ticked al the boxes for me.

That was 2010 and If I knew what I know now, I would have done this sooner! I’ve have more time with my girls than I ever thought possible. I love making a positive difference in my community through our educational and fun arts and crafts classes, parties and events. I’ve grown my franchise at a pace that suits me and my family. Now my children are older I’ve scaled my franchise as there is so much potential.

Our head office team are really proactive and supportive and have helped me at the different stages of my own personal and business development.

Here’s a quick overview of my first six months of 2016:

My team and I have inspired over 1,600 children, delivered over 30 parties and gained contracts for classes and events.

I am making full use of the 5 Star customer rating we have on Trustpilot and the extensive social media content that is created and provided by our Creative Hub head office, for me to share.

I have strong brand presence in the area and this is supported by the fact we can gain contracts to run the Kidszones at the local family festivals. I’ve been working closely with a Bournemouth-based event company which is leading to further contracts and partnerships within my community.

By promoting our national monthly prize draw that Creative Hub head office run every month, I’ve boosted my growing database to cross-sell my services.

I’ve achieved my financial and personal targets with my income doubling in the last year alone.

I can see my business continuing to thrive as we connect and help with so many children, parents, grandparents, local businesses, family focused and educational organisations.

For me it’s been the perfect mix of flexibility and success and my future is definitely bright and sparkly.

Liz Cairns

Find out how Liz went from being stuck behind a desk, to getting stuck into inspiring children through a rewarding and satisfying career

After studying marketing at University I went into the licensed house sector and hospitality, managing many different businesses and venues. I always had autonomy in those roles and I was able to really push myself and be challenged by my work. After my son was born, I took on an admin job to give me more flexibility and a better home life; however the work left me feeling unfulfilled.

I knew that I wanted to work for myself and started to search for a business that would suit me and my skills. Franchising appealed to me because of the back-up and support systems that would be provided by the franchisor. I had managed branded venues when I was in the licensed trade, so I felt that I would be able to fit into a franchise brand and work within its values and structure giving me more time to focus on building the business.

The Creation Station ticked all of the boxes for me – not only from a personal point of view but also from the market demand perspective. . There is a huge gap in the market for creative activities for children and the demand is on the increase. The Creation Station came across professionally with a tried and tested support system and network. After I completed my research I booked on to the next Discovery Morning and met Sarah and the team.

The Discovery Morning was great – you see a class in action and then have time to talk with other franchise owners. I found Sarah very inspiring in the short time I was with her and the team were very friendly and open.

The start-up training was excellent and I immediately felt part of the team. I met other franchisees who were starting out at the same time, got to experience the classes and see the tools and how to use them effectively. I came away from the training feeling really positive and motivated.

After 10 weeks I already had 30 children attending classes regularly each week. Parents have also commented on how they have seen improvements in their children’s skillsets during the course of term – I had finally achieved the job satisfaction I always craved!

I’ve been able to grow my business, employ staff and develop great relationships within the local community. I’m working in a model that supports my ambition with the backing of a brand that meets my values.

Penny Gilbert

 “I went from investment banking to investing in myself and my future” PG

“I wasn’t really enjoying working as a team manager for an investment bank so I decided to look into the option of running my own franchise, where I could use my skills to run my own business, but where I could benefit from the reassurance of a tried and tested business model. With so many franchise opportunities available I decided to look at what I enjoyed doing and use this as a guide to identify the type of opportunity that would work best for me.

"As a volunteer in Brownies and Guides I’ve always loved running activities and working with children, so this seemed like a good place to start! I explored a number of franchise options that would enable me to maintain my own personal values and fit within my family commitments.

"I came across ‘The Creation Station’ online and it immediately jumped right out at me. I couldn’t quite believe that it would really be possible to run a business doing what I love! I could also bring my daughter along to the classes too and have much more time with her. This all added up to reduced childcare costs, more time with my daughter and doing something I loved with lots of great support! It just seemed to have my name written all over it!

"That was 5 years ago, I’ve since had our second daughter and I took 6 months off. The team at Head Office have really supported me though my journey which even includes me speaking on BBC Oxford radio.

"I was thrilled to be awarded the prestigious title of Best Franchise Owner of the Year in the 2016 awards from of our team of 97 franchisees.

Penny Gilbert, The Creation Station

"My life now has all the things I want, believe in and what I value. I absolutely love running my own award winning Creation Station franchise. I am able to balance my home life with our youngest and my 8yr old without giving up my rewarding business. By investing in a brand I believe in and investing in myself, I have been able to make a lifestyle choice that ticks all the boxes for my family's future. Our founder, Sarah Cressall is a pure inspiration as she is committed to building strong working relationships within the network and the head office team are just as dedicated and passionate about each individual franchisee’s business. This has really helped me to maximise potential opportunities, develop personally and to help me be in control of my working life and be there for my family commitments”

Ruth Morris

Ruth from Aberdeen is in the ‘Hot Seat’ when she is interviewed about running her own Creation Station franchise.

What inspired you to start looking for something different to do?
I’m fortunate to be mum to Connor and Lexie and have a fab husband. But after working in the local authority for over 10 years I realised there were other options out there and I didn’t need to just stick with what I was doing.

What were you looking to achieve?
I had two main big goals, these were:
1. I wanted to enjoy a greater work life balance and to support my family whilst working from home.
2. I really wanted to be my own boss so I could determine my own goals and recognise my own achievements.

Why did you look to run your own franchise?
I looked at franchised businesses because I wanted to be my own boss but recognised with the right franchise there was a lot of the support available to develop a stronger business. I was also nervous of starting up on my own after more than a decade in local authority.

Creation StationWhat attracted you to The Creation Station?
I’d worked with children previously and I really wanted to provide an exceptional experience for children & families. The moment I came across The Creation Station online I was attracted to the ethos, values and opportunities of the company. They are rated five-stars by customers on Trust Pilot and in an independent franchise satisfaction survey they received five-star rating. This demonstrates that as a company they care about both the customers and their franchisees.

What were the barriers you had to overcome before you made the decision to invest?
I chose to leave my full time professional career, whilst my husband was starting a new job, because I knew I wanted a change. I financed the investment with a bank loan, which was easier than I thought. The bank was very helpful and have never turned down a bank loan for a Creation Station franchise, which was very reassuring.

What were your feelings when you attended a Discovery Morning?

I’d received the printed franchise information pack and the next step was to go to a free Discovery Event on a Saturday morning. It’s a great way to find out more and you can bring your partner and children if you want to. However, I was incredibly nervous for two reasons - what if I decided the business was not the one for me as it looked perfect – but what if they said I wasn’t right for them. I was very aware that they are very selective about who is awarded a franchise, which is great for ensuring our brand values are maintained – but it still made me nervous!

What did you think about the training?
I loved the training, especially as it was based at the Creative Hub head office, so straightaway I felt part of the company. I can visualise meetings and planning in the meeting room and the huge warehouse where my arts and crafts orders get processed and sent to me usually by the next day which is such a great service from Richard our super store man. It covered all aspects of running the business including practical sessions running class. I felt very confident and reassured.  The atmosphere was exciting, supportive, creative and energised. Four years on I still feel very supported and valued.

 

Please describe the first few months of your business?

I launched straight after training with eight taster drop in events, followed immediately by a further 11 weeks of classes. I have developed new classes, sought new venues, provided lots of birthday parties and I regularly see over 100 families every week. I did not anticipate how quickly my business would flourish nor could I have foreseen the level of interest in both summer activities and bookings into September.

By month three my husband even confided to me that he never thought my business would become this busy.

Describe your highlights so far
I’ve been able to attend so many more events in my children’s lives and the accomplishment that I am providing all childcare myself for the first time in their lives.
Also I’ve made lots of friends and love when I meet families in different environments and see how incredibly excited they are to see me. I am definitely the ‘go to person’ for creative activities from new born babies up to the age of 99 years old in my community.

I also love seeing the change in children at both Baby Discover and Little Explores, examples include:

  1. A child who was incredibly averse to touching the paint and new materials. His mummy reported with such excitement that since attending my classes he has played in his sand pit, enjoyed mud pies and I have seen him soar with confidence.
  2. A little boy who was struggling to maintain interest and participate within the class structure has over 6 weeks developed his focus on his tasks and has learnt all the songs and movements.
  3. The first time a baby picked up a paint brush and started to make marks - his mummy was so excited.
  4. The Magic Ideas Box we use - it draws children like the ‘Pied Pipers’ tune; they are so excited and it’s a wonderful way to spark their own journey of exploration and discovery, so it is all about their ideas and nurturing their creativity.
  5. Circle time at the beginning of every class- children and parents just want to share such lovely life events.

It is such a privilege and very fulfilling to be part of children’s development and to share such special moments. I feel very fortunate to run a business that is making such a positive impact on the lives of children and families.

What are your long-term ambitions for your Creation Station franchise?
To provide an exceptional service for children, families and organisations across the north east of Scotland, whilst supporting my family and developing a rewarding career, driven by my own goals and dreams.

Resales

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Expert Advice
Latest News
Ten Questions about branding with Creation Station
16 December 2021
Creation Station scoops tops awards to support working mums
23 May 2018
The Creation Station recognises top franchisees at annual conference
18 February 2013

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