Meet Liz from Little Groovers, another of our shortlisted businesses in the Trafford Business and Community Awards 2021. Liz talks us through her 10 years in business, and how she has adapted her business to continue to help her young customers to continue to have fun during the Coronavirus pandemic.
If you live in Trafford and have a child aged 13 and under, then there’s a good chance you may have encountered either me or my colleague Nicola while your children were very young.
My name is Liz Osler and I am the founder, creative director, advertising executive… basically I do the lot… at Little Groovers.
Little Groovers is interactive musician led-classes for 0-4yr olds. We also run musical parties and deliver sessions at a variety of settings including schools, nurseries, playgroups and even a synagogue. At least, we did until last March last year.
I started out back in 2011, so this year marks a decade of being in business. My co-musician Nicola Williamson is currently on maternity leave with her first baby who was born in November. Fortunately we now have Sarah Raine, a talented actress and musician, on board and she is doing a marvellous job covering Nicola’s workload with minimal, virtual training!
Like many similar providers, our classes went onto Zoom during the first lockdown of 2020 and we ran three live sessions a week for 17 weeks. Personally I found this way of working to be a nausea-inducing experience; with three children aged 12, 8 and 5 at home while my partner was at work (NHS frontline) I was in a constant state of anxiety imagining that my younger children would bundle into the ‘studio’ living room having an argument while I was delivering a Zoom to 25 families!
It never happened, although my youngest daughter often sat in with me and brought her own, erm, personality to the live classes. At first the virtual class uptake was phenomenal; on one particular session we had over 50 families attending. However over time the numbers started to dwindle as the Zoom fatigue set in.
I have to say that I am fortunate to have been able to access the Government self-employment grant over this period but I am mindful that many people in similar positions will have had a much tougher time financially.
When we got the go-ahead to resume face-to-face classes in September I had to find new venues due to some (such as Urmston Library and Trafford Music Services Centre) not re-opening for room hire or simply being too small to accommodate the new social distancing measures.
I also had to invest in more musical instruments, wireless headsets and amplifiers to fulfil the criteria to make our classes Covid safe. I also had to set up a booking system – pre-Covid our classes were offered on a drop-in basis. The volume of enquiries and bookings was overwhelming as so many families were looking for activities to do with their little ones.
Sarah and I ran classes for the Autumn 1 half-term in this ‘new normal’ way and although it brought many challenges – very young children (and some parents!) not understanding the need for social distancing, technical issues with equipment and the cleaning and disinfecting of EVERYTHING after each class – it was so uplifting to see and hear how grateful parents were to be out of the house with their babies and children and interacting – albeit socially distanced – with others.
When the November lockdown was announced I offered free downloads to customers who paused their booking rather than requesting a refund – I was grateful that the majority of customers chose this option. We managed to re-start in December for three weeks before the Christmas break and then, well, here we are.
I offered four more free download sessions in January to existing customers. I did wonder if families would like a live Zoom session instead but the general consensus was that downloads were more convenient, especially for families juggling work and older siblings.
I’m currently concentrating my work time on writing new material for Little Groovers and recording video music lessons for the Manchester primary school I visit once a week.
Once restrictions are lifted we’ll be able to roll into action again as we have everything in place for Covid-safe, fun and friendly parent-child classes. I cannot wait for the day when we can sing loudly, hold each others’ babies and encourage our pre-schoolers to interact and share instruments again.
Find put more about Liz’s business and classes via her website HERE
To vote for Liz, or to find out more about the shortlist in our Trafford Business and Community Awards 2021, click HERE.