Hannah Perry of The Giggling Pig on the importance of giving back and how she overcame an unexpected challenge in her business
Describe your business in a few words?
The Giggling Pig is an art and party business that caters to children and adults of all ages. We are located in Shelton CT and have recently franchised and opened a new location in Bethel, CT. We provide people with the tools they need to be as creative as their hearts desire while teaching about kindness and compassion.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
After moving here from England at 19 ( as a nanny ) I saw a lack of places to take children and create. I used the feedback I got from kids over 10 years to create a place where they would feel safe, happy, comfortable and inspired!
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I studied childhood education and development.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
The only strategy I had was to pour my heart and soul into what I was doing. I had very little money to invest in anything at that time. I focused all my energy on opening the business and creating wonderful relationships with the customers and families. I asked people to spread the word and that was my only form of advertising. It worked! I outgrew my first location in just 8 months.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
I encountered a huge challenge after opening my second studio. After a few months an apartment above my studio caught fire. Thankfully everyone in the building got out safely, but I lost everything. Even though the fire happened at 2am, by 7 am I was signing a new lease across the street and only remained closed for a day! I learned to work under extreme stress and remain focused through an awful time.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Looking back at my 21 years in The USA I feel this year has been my greatest so far. I managed to navigate two businesses through a pandemic and reached 10 years in business. I also franchised and sold my first location in March.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
I like to know why they want to work with us. What is it that made them want to reach out? I like to make sure it isn’t just for money or to fill a gap. I need staff that are passionate and caring.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Many studios sadly closed down along with some suppliers. This has been really hard on the art industry. It is already expensive to run an art business but now we have less product available and at a more expensive rate.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
I am currently working on expanding my children’s book series. I want the families to fall in love with more than just our studios, but also the messages behind the studios. From the books I am also working on a show idea that will teach children about kindness and compassion and introduce them to areas of their community.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
If we can make it through 2020, we can make it through anything. Just take a deep breath and keep moving forward.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
I wish I knew to not take everything so personally. When you put your heart and soul into what you are doing, it’s hard to bounce back from criticism. But it helps us to grow personally and as business owners.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Staying connected with others, appreciating what we did have and staying focused on making a change. It was important to stay as positive as possible and surrounding yourself with like minded people really helps.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Being organized is the best tip I can give. I like to create a schedule for my day of all the important things I need to get done. This helps me stay focused as I want to finish work once my kids are home. It’s important as a business owner and mother that I switch off from work when I am with my kids. I have also learned that I can’t be everything to everyone, and so I have become better at delegating tasks.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
That I rarely go into things knowing what I am doing. I say yes if it feels right and figure out how to do it on the way.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
Getting up early to exercise is a great way to start the day. I follow it up with creating a list of all the goals I want to complete that day, starting with the most important. I also like to set deadlines for myself.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
It means sleepless nights, and long days. Not making excuses and finding ways to succeed. I believe giving back is a huge part of being an Entreprenista and sharing your journey to benefit others and helping them succeed is key.