Wow, I can’t believe that Pop Up Play Village has reached its fifth anniversary already; the last 5 years have whizzed by! Not only has the business grown massively in that time, but also my little family has too. When we launched Pop Up Play Village, I had a 7 month old and a 3 year old; now they are 5 and 8 and still very much my reason and inspiration for growing Pop Up Play Village. My husband was also a huge catalysis in driving me to start the business, I don’t think I ever would have had the confidence to do it without his support.
So much has happened during 5 years that I can’t possibly share it all in one blog, however I would love to share a few top highlights over the last 5 years.
For a long time, Pop Up Play Village had just been a niggling in my brain, but the moment I saw it all come together was the day I got my letter from Companies House in 2016 to confirm that Pop Up Play Village Limited was the first ever mobile role play village registered. The planning for my first ever play session was then to begin…
Launch day has got to be my second highlight! We decided to launch in Caversham in Reading (which is the village I grew up in), with an action-packed day of three sold out play sessions! It was totally petrifying as I hadn’t piloted the play sessions before the launch. Now looking back, it would have been sensible to have tested a play session with a few friends and family prior to launch day! Fortunately, it went so well and I was buzzing by the end of the day! From there, I was excited to run more play sessions, but I took it slowly with my children being so young at the time and focused on running weekend play sessions. Before I knew it, I was running birthday parties too and my diary was filling up fast.
A few months later, another highlight was when I developed Outdoor Explorers; which is all about exploring nature through play. I was running play sessions in a few venues with outdoor space and I always loved running forest school sessions in my teaching career. It has been a great addition to Pop Up Play Village and has enabled us to run play sessions with a mixture of role play and outdoor explorers, as well as running exclusive outdoor explorers events.
After a year of running Pop Up Play Village, I saw that there was such a demand for it. So, we decided to become the first to start a mobile role play franchise! I saw how Pop Up Play Village worked so well for me and I wanted other families in other locations across the UK to benefit also. Therefore, we took the huge step of franchising the business. With a lot of hard work and many late nights working, we took Pop Up Play Village from being the first ever mobile role play village to being the first ever franchised mobile role play village! Our first franchise owners Erica and Frank who run our Basingstoke and Reading franchises were absolutely amazing to work with and still are and made the franchising process so rewarding and exciting that it continues to grow!
Over the last 4 years, our team of franchises has grown steadily. We now have a total of 19 franchises spread over the UK. Our growth has been great but it would not have been possible at all without a lot of hard work and dedication from our Pop Up Play Village team. I am hugely grateful to them. Thank you very much to each and everyone of you!
For me, as an Early Years specialist teacher, another key moment in the growth of Pop Up Play Village was the development of the schools and early years curriculum planning. This planning links our play areas to both the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 curriculums. In 2019, I decided to develop this curriculum planning to enable our role play village to be taken into schools and early years settings to teach a group of children purely through role play. I went into two settings to test the planning, one a reception class and the other a Pre-school. This was an incredible experience as it brought both my love of teaching and my business together. So much so that I still continue to work regularly in both settings today!
Just three years into running Pop Up Play Village, the pandemic came along which was a major, sudden bump in the road for us. Suddenly, all of our events had to be cancelled and we couldn’t run our business. This was definitely not a highlight for me but the way our team has handled it, and the way in which they came together to support each other, combined with the determination to keep going; has been a highlight. We introduced the hire of mini kits during the first lockdown which enabled families to hire smaller versions of our standard play areas in their homes. This allowed us to offer a service to our customers and support our local community by providing a way to educate and entertain children at home. This adaptation to our business at this key moment in time showed me just how flexible the business is and how special our team are.
And finally, to you; our wonderful customers. None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for you. Every time you come to a play session, book a birthday party, share our Facebook page, invite a friend for a Pop Up Play Village date; you are keeping my dream and business alive. For this, I am eternally grateful. I have loved making memories with you and your families, watching your little ones grow and play within a fun, safe and engaging environment with us. I’ve loved watching friendships and relationships develop also. Because of you, Pop Up Play Village has grown and continues to grow from strength to strength.
So, to say thank you and to help us celebrate our 5 year anniversary in style, there will be 5 giveaways to celebrate our 5 years!
So please look out for these competitions on our Pop Up Play Village UK Facebook page which will be starting very soon!
Written by Becky, Franchisor of Pop Up Play Village