There was clearly something in the air in 1993... In London, brand new parent-friendly company - Monkey Music, was opening the doors to its first baby music classes; whilst 150 miles due west, over in Newport, quirky British fashion catalogue, JoJo Maman Bébé, via mail order, was also born. Today, we celebrate both our 25th birthdays with a wonderful guest post from Angie Coates, founder of Monkey Music, explaining how and why she started her business, and how it has evolved since 1993. We also have a fantastic offer for our readers who would like to attend a Monkey Music class! (See end of post)
On reflection, it may have seemed a crazy time to open a new business aimed at young families. The country was struggling with high levels of unemployment and many young homeowners were burdened by negative equity. However, I think the timing was perfect. I believe that the early success of both our businesses is down to the fact that we offered parents some exciting, fresh and creative ideas which were going to enhance their family lives.
As a classically trained musician and new mum, I began Monkey Music to make new friends and to share my passion and belief in the value of an early music education. Wanting to share the joy of making music, I wrote a progressive class curricula with the aim that parents and their children would share precious time together.
The curricula is an exact 'fit' for each age group, and hundreds of musical activities and songs support all aspects of early development, including language skills, physical skills and social skills. At each class, teachers captivate the children with magical sounds and activities whilst parents and carers join in having fun too! Over the years, many families have considered Monkey Music classes as a rite of passage, which is fantastic to see.
"My baby absolutely loves Monkey Music, the classes are amazing, they're fun, interactive and enjoyable for adults too! I am always singing the songs for her at home to her delight. My little one is hitting developmental milestones earlier with clapping and waving and can join in with actions in the songs very early on which I believe is due to how engaging she finds the classes." - Monkey Music Mum
In 1998, with a Nationwide demand, I franchised Monkey Music so that I could extend the reach of my classes whilst also giving other working parents like me the opportunity to run their own businesses. Today, there are over 150 wonderful teachers teaching Monkey Music classes across the UK, with many teachers choosing to work flexible hours around their own families.
For me, my own family has always been my inspiration. Each time a new baby family member arrived, I celebrated by growing my business. My fifth daughter, now aged 12, was the reason why I wrote Rock'n'Roll, (the first stage at Monkey Music for newborn babies). Up until then, the classes had been for toddlers starting from 12 months. Like all other stages of the curricula, I wrote the content in 'real time', writing notes and musical ideas as I observed how my own baby was developing during that first critical year. I picked up on what sort of sounds and music my baby responded to and created special musical moments for different parts of the day. That baby is now a tuneful 12 year old child who still loves to sing all the Monkey Music songs, especially to her baby cousin! My other, more grown up daughters, also enjoy having music in their lives, often using their innate musical confidence to create innovative musical opportunities to support their chosen career paths as a doctor, teacher, and business student.
Here's a great throwback photo of Angie and her daughters, and a more recent family portrait:
It is true that the immediate success of those early classes set the right tone for Monkey Music and paved the way for future development. Twenty five years later, there have been 4.8 million classes attended by hundreds of thousands of families across the UK. If those classes were played back-to-back, that would be 24 hours of Monkey Music, every day for the last 25 years!
For me, the most important thing is that Monkey Music continues to offer families the opportunity to share precious time with their children, doing something really worthwhile and whilst having lots of fun!
Happy 25th Birthday JoJo Maman Bébé, and thank you for dressing up our little monkeys as we all sing, dance, and play to the music!
If you would like to experience Monkey Music classes, you are invited to book online at www.monkeymusic.co.uk Your first class is FREE and JoJo Maman Bébé customers can claim half price membership by quoting: JOJOBlog*
*This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer and there is no product or cash alternative. Valid on all new Monkey Music regular class bookings made during 2018.