Two enterprising Durham mums are putting the fun into business with the launch of a new entertainment centre for pre-school children, thanks to assistance from TEDCO Business Support.  

Dragonflies Durham

Kathryn Frazer (36) and Kate Horner (32) have launched Dragonflies Durham after spotting a gap in the local market for a more one-to-one led play centre to cater for mums, babies, toddlers and pre-school children in need of interaction, play and educational activities.

The children’s centre is based at the Dragonflies Industrial estate and offers a wide range of scheduled classes and activities designed to entertain children in a fun and sociable environment. The timed sessions offer activities such as messy play, crafts, sensory for babies, rhyme time and baby yoga to provide a mixed offering designed to suit the varying needs of children.

Commenting on the business launch, co-owner Kathryn said: “It’s been quite a long journey to get to this point but we are excited and proud to be bringing this much-needed new service to parents and children in the Durham area.

“The actual idea for Dragonflies came about because of our own experiences of entertaining pre-school children. Since the unexpected closure of so many of the Sure Start centres in and around Durham, there has been a lack of venues catering for more structured play sessions housed within premises which offer a sociable element for both parents and children alike.

“We wanted our sessions to be enjoyable but held in smaller groups to allow mums and dads the chance to talk with other parents in an informal environment while their children are entertained and led through a variety of activities. Dragonflies is just the right size to support our sessions without being so big that you’re constantly running after toddlers – a problem we know only too well!”

Both Kathryn and Kate came up with the idea for Dragonflies during maternity leave after having their first child. However, the idea took slightly longer to materialise into a real workable business given the difficulties in sourcing appropriate premises to house the new venture.

Co-owner Kate Horner comments: “Both Kathryn and I were really passionate about the idea to open Dragonflies but given the type of business and the space we needed, finding the right premises was absolutely central to its future success. It wasn’t until my second child came along that we finally found the right unit and could realistically see how the business could work.

“Neither Kathryn or I have ever been self-employed before so there was a steep learning curve to really get an understanding of how to take an idea and turn it into a profitable business venture. Aside from sourcing the premises, we were introduced to the start and grow programme from TEDCO and worked with a dedicated business advisor to run through every element of running a startup business, from cash flow to business planning to the varying administrative elements which need to be addressed before we even opened the doors.

“The support we received has been absolutely essential and we can’t thanks our business advisor Mark enough for the time he put into getting Dragonflies ready to launch.”

Dragonflies is now open Monday to Saturday from 9.30am daily and booking in advance is advised to secure a place one the one hour activity sessions. The current schedule of activities offers a mix of sessions for different age groups up until pre-school age.

Kate continues: “We are delighted that Dragonflies is now open to children and parents looking for fun and wholesome activities in the Durham area and look forward to meeting some of our new customers in the coming weeks.”

Kate and Kathryn were given business support via the start and grow programme, which is delivered by TEDCO Business Support in the North East and supported by the Regional Growth Fund (RGF). The programme is delivered throughout England by Cavendish Enterprise in areas where there are lower levels of business start-up to help new enterprises get up and running and develop new employment opportunities in the private sector with a range of services, including one-to-one mentoring, business planning and helping new ventures get investment ready.

Mark Johnston, TEDCO business advisor comments: “Kate and Kathryn are two business people with a real understanding of their market. They identified that parents in the local area would benefit from this type of children’s entertainment space and created a business plan which was clear and simple but with a considered approach to growth opportunities. They hope to expand in the future with larger premises which could support additional soft play style equipment but for now, the Dragonflies brand will grow organically as they build a customer following and develop new and exciting classes to keep babies, toddlers and parents entertained. I wish them both the best of luck in their exciting new venture and look forward to continuing supporting the business beyond the initial startup phase.”

What we offer

TEDCO offers one-on-one support provided by a dedicated team of business advisors and a range of pre start seminars available to clients who are taking the first steps into self-employment. This could be looking at an initial idea and developing it further, looking at how to start a business plan, business competitors, business marketing.

Are you eligible?

If you are looking to start and grow a business we’d love to hear from you. Our friendly team of experienced Business Advisors are on hand to take your call to discuss the support available.

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