This month we talked to Juliete Harpur, Ashford Mumpreneur extraordinaire, who runs Sing and Sign Ashford:
Hi my name is Juliete Harpur, I am a franchisee and teacher with Sing and Sign, and these are my two wonderful children, Charlie & Anabelle.
How did you get into Baby signing?
I have a wee boy called Charlie who is now 4 years old and Anabelle who is 2. Charlie and Anabelle both joined Sing and sign at around the age of 3 months. I really enjoy singing, reading and doing actions to stories that we read together. Ever since Charlie was born I had always wanted to do something fun and useful with him and had heard of baby sign language, and so went in search of classes. I had my first amazing class and even though Charlie was only three months at the time I could see he was really engaged in all the actions and singing within the class.
As Charlie got a bit older I noticed him firstly responding to some of the signs I was doing and would respond with either a smile or a frown. This meant the world that I was able to communicate with my baby at such a young age, even though he was unable to do the signs at the time it was clear I was understanding and communicating to his needs.
Since the first class I have been hooked, iIhave enjoyed every single session and always was excited for the next weeks activity. Then iIrealised I had found something that I really love doing and wanted to make this into a career.
As Charlie turned 11 months he used his first sign asking for his milk and then started pointing at things that interested him and did signs for the sounds of certain animals. It was truely magical to experience and to see the delight on his face when I responded as I understood what he is trying to tell me, this makes for a happy baby and happy mum.
Charlie’s first few signs which included finished, duck, bird, bed, hungry, milk, dog, more, where and his favourite train.
Now Charlie has a varied vocabulary including animals, vehicles, colours. When he turned 3 he was still signing frequently to help little sister but also to help me with any words that weren’t quite clear in his spoken vocabulary, and it was helpful with learning his colours and alphabet.
Anabelle started signing at 6 months she started with milk, change nappy, more and please. Then moved onto animals, open, where and was able to put signs together to create signing sentences meaning at a young age i was able to understand her and she was able to have a conversation with me from an early age.
What do you do as a Mumpreneur?
I run baby sign language classes in Ashford for 0-2 year olds. I have been teaching with sing and sign for a total of 4 years starting in Northern Ireland and then moving to Ashford. Sing and Sign helps babies to communicate before they can speak. The classes are filled with songs and rhymes to help parent to remember signs and to engage baby. The course covers over 100 signs relating to baby’s world. As you begin the term you are not expected to instantly remember all the signs shown, or to use them straight away with your baby! Learning the Sing and Sign way is gradual and effortless, builds week on week.
Why start up as a Mumpreneur?
My driving force to become a Mumpreneur was my son Charlie. Having to go back to a job I didn’t enjoy and leave my boy at a nursery to then spend all my earnings to send him there just didn’t feel right. I wanted to spend the time with him and not miss anything whilst still being able to work.
What have you most enjoyed about being a Mumpreneur?
I have enjoyed being able to have the best of both worlds. As I am writing this I am sat at the kitchen table working on my laptop with my two year old daughter, Anabelle, cuddled on my knee, (which says it all). To spend time with my kids and to be there for them whenever they need me but to also enrich the lives of other kids that I teach. Its something i am so passionate about having taught my two children to sign, watching their communication and development thrive, and being able to empower parents and families to be able to do the same for their children.
What is the main challenge you have faced as a Mumpreneur?
The main challenge? Try challenges. As a Mumpreneur my forte is teaching the classes but the rest of the “business stuff” is hard going. I’m not an expert in marketing, graphic design, accounting, orders but have had to learn as the time came and hope for the best. After a while things do start to fall together but i still have so much to learn on the business end.
What, if anything, would you have done differently?
I wouldn’t have jumped head first into expecting three full classes on my first term! Fortunately I was able to learn from this mistake in Northern Ireland as I moved to Ashford and had to start my business for the second time.
What is your key piece of advice to anyone considering starting up as a Mumpreneur?
Key advice would have to be, if you are thinking about becoming and Mumpreneur, don’t think, just do it. Its hard work to balance a business and home-life, and I always think I could be doing more but it is the best thing I have ever done. I have never been in a job that I have enjoyed this much and look forward to teaching every week. Job satisfaction is key.
Don’t forget Mums in Ashford members receive £5 off a term with Sing and Sign Ashford, as well as a free taster session!!! Sign up to become a Member to access this discount and many more.
Mums in Ashford – supporting, celebrating and inspiring local mumpreneurs