Elizabeth Davies started running her own Baby Sensory business in York in April 2010 and when her Baby Development classes proved to be a success decided she wanted to expand her business to reach more parents and their babies. After 8 years Elizabeth now oversees the running of Baby Sensory, Toddler Sense, Mini Professor Science classes and Reading Fairy classes in her area. Elizabeth has 20 fantastic Franchisees and Class Leaders in her team and between them they cover Beverley, East York, Harrogate, Hull, Leeds East, Leeds North, Leeds South, Northallerton, Scarborough and York. Prior to starting her WOW business Elizabeth was a waste management consultant in Scotland. She attended Baby Sensory with her daughter Maisie in Edinburgh and loved the classes.
Suffering from PND it was the one thing that motivated her to leave the house and quickly became the highlight of her week. On relocating to York she was sad to find that the closest Baby Sensory classes were in Newcastle and decided that a career change was required to rectify this situation!
In 2017, Elizabeth decided to open Reading Fairy classes and found the perfect person, Gemma Robinson, to work with her in York to spread the love of reading with parents and their babies and toddlers.
Gemma is a qualified Teacher with ten years teaching experience, specialising in Early
Years. She took her own two children, now aged five and six, to Baby Sensory and Toddler
Sense sessions and loved them. When she heard that Reading Fairy was coming to the
WOW World Group she immediately knew it was the career she had been looking for.
We asked Elizabeth and Gemma a few questions to find out why they chose Reading Fairy classes and how it’s all going.
Elizabeth, why was it important to you to have Reading Fairy classes in your WOW business?
I initially met Emily Guille-Marrett at a head office meeting to discuss our umbrella brand. I immediately warmed to her bubbly personality. She talked with such energy and passion about her programme and her mission to help every child get the best start for reading for life, I knew then and there I wanted to be part of that journey.
Gemma, how did you find out about the Reading Fairy franchise?
I had been interested in becoming a Baby Sensory franchisee for a number of years but the timing had never quite worked out. When my children started school, I decided I was ready for a career change and I started researching franchise opportunities in my area. A chance discussion with Elizabeth, whilst our children enjoyed a play date together, sealed my fate. She mentioned a new franchise coming to the WOW World Group and it was just perfect for my interests and experience.
Did you both attend the Reading Fairy training programme and how was it?
ED. The training was intense but inspirational. I was very impressed with the expertise and enthusiasm of the founders and the content of the programme. I loved the characters and
the music. Learning new skills such as sensory and performance storytelling has been beneficial when it comes to sharing books with my own little one.
GR. The training was fun, tiring and exciting. I was wowed by the quality of resources. I particularly enjoyed looking in depth at the structure of the programme and was impressed with the detail contained in the lesson plans and the theory behind them. Despite a long
teaching career, the phonics training was the best I’d seen. In addition, the training provided social opportunities to meet other franchisees thus creating a support network. I came away buzzing and raring to launch.
When did you start running your Reading Fairy classes?
Gemma ran some free taster sessions in February and then launched her first term on Friday 9th March.
How many Reading Fairy Classes do you run every week?
We launched with 4 classes running on a Friday in Poppleton:
Book Babies (12 months+)
Toddler Tales (18 months+)
Story Stars (2 to 3 years)
Reading Recruits (3 & 4 years)
We will be opening 3 new classes in May.
What has been your most successful strategy for finding new customers?
Being part of the WOW brand has provided confidence and reassurance with regards to the quality and content of the programme. The support provided by my regional franchisee,
Elizabeth, has proved invaluable. She is knowledgeable with regards to marketing in the local area and provided me with a comprehensive business development and marketing plan. I have found it important to use a broad marketing approach and not focus on one specific platform. I had a long lead-time between training and launching the classes and this helped build awareness and anticipation (particularly on social media). I have the Reading
Fairy characters and my contact details on my car and this has generated a lot of interest and sparked numerous conversations. I’ve attended local baby & toddler events and delivered several sessions in schools and nurseries.
What do you enjoy most about running your Reading Fairy classes?
I love the response of children and parents to the activities and resources. It is so satisfying to see them making progress in terms of confidence, speech & language, phonics and just a general love of books & reading. It has given me a better work life balance – I’m able to work hours to suit me and be on the school run every day.
What has been the greatest challenge you have had to overcome when setting up your Reading Fairy business?
The initial financial considerations of becoming self-employed whilst building the business (especially as my husband has recently started his own business too).
How do you see your Reading Fairy business growing over the next 2 years?
I am looking to expand to other locations in my territory. My children are both at school, so my business plan is to run 4 half days of classes leaving one day for admin, marketing and preparation. I realise this might not suit everyone but the franchise offers the ability to cater the hours to your personal circumstances, so you could run less days for longer hours. That flexibility is what attracted me in the first place.
Gemma Robinson - Reading Fairy Franchisee for York
“I feel so fortunate to have found a job that I love and that fits so
well around my family. I love being my own boss and managing
my own time and workload. It is really refreshing, having left
teaching, to have the lesson plans and resources provided so
that my evenings have become my own again. I have complete
confidence in the programme and know from the expertise of
the founders that what I am delivering is high quality and will
have a massive impact on children’s enthusiasm and skills for
Elizabeth Davies - WOW Franchisor
“I have been really impressed with the Reading Fairy programme. I love how the different characters (Reading Fairy, Music Mouse, Chat Cat, Phonic Fox, Book Bear) introduce the different activities to develop the building blocks required for reading. Gemma’s hard work and comprehensive approach to marketing means she has exceeded our initial growth targets. I anticipate the programme will be successful throughout our region and look forward to welcoming new Reading Fairy Franchisees to our friendly team.”
Emily Guille-Marrett and Charlotte Raby - Reading Fairy Founders
“It's so exciting to hear how the magic
of Reading Fairy classes has spread to
York thanks to Elizabeth and Gemma's
talent, enthusiasm and hard work. And
we couldn't be more delighted to hear
how well it's going at such an early
stage. We can't wait to continue to
support them on their Reading Fairy
journey and watch their businesses and
York's little readers succeed and grow.
As Elizabeth and Gemma highlight, training to deliver the
Reading Fairy pre-school programme to babies, toddlers and
pre-school children is rigorous as well as lots of fun. And as early
reading experts, we know how important the right team
is. When Elizabeth and Gemma arrived on their first training day,
we had to pinch ourselves. Elizabeth's knowledge of Baby
Sensory and her passion for Reading Fairy coupled with
Gemma's expertise, determination and engaging personality
meant Reading Fairy York was destined to launch well.
Seeing Gemma's Reading Fairy car and practising with her before
her first class was super exciting and we couldn't be more
pleased to hear the latest Reading Fairy class feedback from York
- including the opening of a second venue already.
We have worked for decades to give children the best start for
reading for life. Evidence shows that learning to read and
developing a love of books significantly improves children's
academic success, well-being and acceptance of others in
How fantastic! If you'd like to join Elizabeth, Gemma and all of us in the Reading Fairy team to inspire babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers to be readers for life then do please get in touch.
If you have any questions about our Reading Fairy classes or other WOW programmes please do get in touch with one of our team.
WOW World Group