The babyballet Story
Founder Claire O'Connor & Co-Founder Barbara Peters
Claire’s dream of bringing ballet to everyone – not just the elite – started thanks to her own painful experiences. She attended classes from the age of three but instead of being the star pupil, as you might expect - as her mother and babyballet co-founder, Barbara Peters, was a professional dancer and teacher - she and ballet didn’t fit together for whatever reason.
“I loved ballet but it didn’t love me. I was the wrong shape and I felt that only the best were accepted. It left me with a tremendous lack of self-confidence and a very poor body image which followed me through to later life,” she says.
Working closely alongside her mother, she set to work to bring fun, non-competitive quality pre-school classes to pre-schoolers, which would be focussed on learning to dance through fun and increasing every child’s confidence.
Initially she only ran classes but has since developed themed parties, uniform, merchandise, the babyballet characters, themed music, live entertainment shows and children’s events and the concept is franchised.
Claire introduced the babyballet characters to promote the positive messages of babyballet and they have since become a huge part of the brand, adored by members and non-members alike.
Claire lives in Halifax, where the Headquarters of her business is based, and has four children Harry, Charlie, Claudia and Kitty.
Past awards include ITV’s Mumpreneur; Best Business Parent at the Mum and Working Awards; Halifax Courier Young Business Person (2007) and Entrepreneur (2008); Pulse Radio Local Hero Award; Inspire Award from Calderdale College and finalist in a host of others.
Claire was featured on Channel 4's three part inspiring arts documentary, 'Big Ballet' and, along with ten members of the original cast, continues to perform and spread the positive message that the documentary upheld...that all shapes and sizes can do ballet!
Claire does public speaking and is a keen fundraiser. The babyballet® network as a whole have raised over £30,000 for various charities including BBC Children In Need and Comic Relief and Claire is ambassador at Overgate Hospice in Halifax.
But she says she couldn’t have done it without the support of not just her family, but the loyal and hardworking franchisees and teachers, “The success of babyballet isn’t just down to me it’s down to the fantastic team I work alongside. I thank them all greatly for their enthusiasm and energy in making babyballet the successful and happy place it is today.”
Claire and the entire babyballet® team were thrilled to celebrate babyballet®'s tenth birthday in 2015 and look forward to making many more magical memories in decades to come.