Soaring demand for baby yoga classes has put a North East entrepreneur’s fast-growing business on the verge of national expansion.
Rebecca Riley launched Sunderland-based Kalma Baby in 2014 after giving up a career in retail management to raise her first child.
In search of a baby group with developmental benefits for her prematurely-born son, she spotted a gap in the market for mother and baby yoga classes.
She trained as a baby yoga instructor and has since built up a network of 14 franchisees across the North East, from North Northumberland to Darlington – with further expansion now planned.
In the next 12 months Kalma Baby franchises will begin operating in several locations throughout Yorkshire, while discussions are also underway to take the business into London.
The company runs baby, toddler and junior yoga groups, baby developmental massage classes and yoga classes for pre and postnatal mothers. It also works closely with schools, offering classes with positive themes such as anti-bullying, designed to ease anxiety and stress among pupils.
Kalma Baby’s success has been aided by business support company RTC North, which provided grant funding and expertise through its Innovation Pathway programme to help Rebecca to grow her company via digital marketing. Innovation Pathway was delivered by RTC North and was part funded by European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The follow on programme, Pathways to Innovation, started in January 2018.
RTC director Jamie Ollivere says: “Rebecca has harnessed a personal passion to build a business that taps into growing demand for both baby yoga and flexible ways of making a living among busy parents. She quickly recognised that the franchising model was much better suited to the company than employing full-time staff and her decision has paid off.”
Yoga is increasingly being recognised as an alternative therapy for common ailments among babies and children such as colic and constipation.
For older children and young adults, it can also reduce stress and anxiety and help individuals to manage long-term conditions including cerebral palsy and ADHD. Baby yoga also helps mums to bond with their baby.
Further benefits come from Karma Baby’s franchise model, says Rebecca: “When children come along there is often a necessity for mums to work flexibly, especially given the astronomical cost of childcare. They can miss out on lots of things with their children if they work nine-to-five, and therefore there is huge demand for career opportunities like ours. Of course, we have strict criteria for franchisees, while we also give them a lot of support, including ongoing yoga and marketing training.
“Baby and young people’s yoga is growing immensely around the world, as evidence of its healing, health-boosting and relaxing powers increases. Through our ongoing expansion, we hope to help many more parents and children experience yoga’s many benefits in 2018.”
Kalma Baby currently works in 25 North East schools on a regular basis, and many more ad hoc. The company was recently awarded the Gold Standard accreditation from the regulating body, the Children’s Activity Association.