ToddlerTunez started off as a simple part-time gig so I could have extra pocket money alongside my studies in music, at Kent. I was a musical babysitter; I sang, wrote songs, created worlds with the children I babysat, while making sure I never turned a screen on. I didn't know yet the value in the service I was providing – my clients loved my approach and I soon realised more parents needed this.
Today, ToddlerTunez is a thriving creative babysitting company, having expanded beyond music to include more art forms. Our concept is to utilise an underemployed talent pool (professionals in the creative industries) to provide a smarter babysitting service. Our sitters help families with tasks such as picking children up from school, cooking meals, bedtime routines. But what’s unique about our service is that they also provide creative sessions, completely tailored to the families’ requirements in terms of art form, language of instruction, age group, and of course the child’s unique personality. Our sitters are all DBS checked [to meet child protection requirements in the UK], first aid trained and are professionals in their craft – we have actors, dancers, choreographers, musicians, as well as more specific specialisms such as puppeteers and mask makers!
I was in my final year when the idea of ToddlerTunez came about. I took a module on music business that involved writing a business plan for a business of our choice. This was my first experience of anything I deemed business-related; until that point, I was very much solely focused on performing, but I decided to see whether my concept of musical babysitting could form the basis of a business model. I had never previously written a business plan, had no idea where to begin in terms of thinking about finances (it’s still not my strongest point) and not the slightest idea of the different kinds of company structures that existed. By the end of the module, I had a solid first plan, a viable cash flow, and a registered limited company.
After graduating with a first-class honours degree from Kent, I immediately began my MA in Arts & Cultural Management at King’s College London. During that year, the business took a back seat. I still had occasional clients and had hopes and dreams of taking it to new heights, but the demands of the MA and the solitude of being a solo entrepreneur weighed heavy. Then, at the end of my course, I asked Corinna Bordoli, a fellow classmate, to join my venture as a co-founder. This was a game changer.
Together we’ve pitched in front of investors (and received investment), were accepted onto the Strategy Lab Accelerator program run by Cass Business School and Oxford University, hired 25 sitters and counting, grew our core team by bringing on an intern (and looking to bring on more), exhibited at some of the UK’s biggest fairs, created business partnerships with established companies in our field and now we’re working with developers to create a more user-friendly platform in the hopes of multiplying our client base.
I’m lucky enough to have two jobs I absolutely love. The first is running ToddlerTunez, on which I spend most of my time. The second is my part-time position in communications at the Entrepreneurship Institute at King’s College London. At ToddlerTunez, I learn every day, because most things, I’ve never done before. This is super exciting and keeps the momentum going! At King’s, I’m in a creative role which fuels my energy; I also get to be in an entrepreneurial environment that is hugely inspiring and often very relatable to what’s happening at ToddlerTunez. I think what I enjoy most, though, is that at both my jobs I’m surrounded by the absolute dream team.
In the beginning, I ran ToddlerTunez alone. I went through a period where I was stuck and unsure about everything that involved the business. Once Corinna came on board, everything changed! The challenges became bigger because the business started to advance, but we were in it together and able to support each other through it. There’s really nothing like a good team! Today, we’re all in the same boat, trying to keep our businesses afloat during this pandemic. At ToddlerTunez we’re moving everything to digital! As much as these are tough times, we’re growing as a team and constantly adapting which is very satisfying!
We are currently operating in London but looking to expand nationally in the next year and maybe internationally in the years to come!
I started my degree at Kent thinking I’d become a full-time singer, with no real idea of how to make that possible, or even what the market was like. I left with a more rounded perspective of the creative industries, a huge number of skill sets that opened my career prospects and a new love for facilitating art, not just creating it.
Graduation is probably my fondest memory. I remember such a sense of pride and emotion to have made it, and sharing that with my classmates was exceptional; it made all the hard work and late nights worth it!
University is such a special time. Take all the opportunities that come your way, you don’t know where they might lead you! I’d also encourage you to try new things and seek all kinds of experiences, because these will really help shape you and prepare you for the world outside.
Note: Léa's degree was the Popular Music BA, which preceded the current Music Performance and Production degree.