Pyjama Drama is shining on the world stage

Starting as a single class in Wales, Pyjama Drama's fun-filled sessions are now entertaining kids in all corners of the globe

Pyjama Drama is shining on the world stage

When Sarah Owen founded Pyjama Drama back in 2005, she probably didn’t envisage her children’s drama classes being taught in Australia, Malaysia and the USA 11 years later. However, she is now taking international expansion in her stride.

Owen launched her first class in hometown Welshpool following a career as a secondary school drama teacher. Having had her three children close together, she introduced them to drama by playing games and making up songs at home. “One day I thought: ‘I wonder if I can turn this into a class,'” says Owen. “The children were responding with such imagination to the things I was doing.”

Realising she might be onto something, Owen sent a flyer about the classes to her son’s playgroup. “There was a good response straightaway,” she says. And from there, she started working with Welshpool’s three nurseries. Fortunately, it didn’t take much capital to get the fledgling business off the ground. “It was just printing off a few flyers at home, grabbing a few of the kids’ instruments, making up a few songs and hiring a hall,” says Owen. “It’s a cottage industry really.”

Despite the strong start Owen had enjoyed in her hometown, the idea of franchising Pyjama Drama wasn’t yet on the agenda. “When it started to be successful in Welshpool, a few people said I should franchise it,” she says. “But I thought that was too far down the line. At the time, I was enjoying what I was doing and organically developing the programme through trial and error.”

But, when her youngest son started school, Owen was faced with a decision: should she return to full-time teaching or continue building her new venture? Opting for the latter, Owen decided it was time to franchise. As she explains, it was the route that made the most sense for the business. “Pyjama Drama is quite personal and you put a lot of yourself into the sessions,” she says. “You need to feel like you own it rather than employing teachers who maybe don’t have that same sense of ownership.”

Before she could start recruiting franchisees, however, Owen had to alter the name of the business, which was launched as Dinky Drama. “It was indicated that Dinky Drama probably wouldn’t be approved as a trademark as there was another business called Dinky Dancers that offers pre-school dance,” says Owen. “So I had to change the name to Pyjama Drama.”

Once the new name was approved, Owen brought Anna Lingard on board as her first franchisee. As a mother who already attended the classes, she was the ideal candidate. “Anna was a perfect fit because she knew first-hand what the classes were all about,” says Owen. “She also had two young children of her own, so she wanted something that fitted in flexibly around her family.”

The other thing that worked in Lingard’s favour was her drama skills, which Owen looks for from all Pyjama Drama franchisees. “You don’t necessarily need to have taught it but you do need the skills,” she explains. That’s in addition to ambition, tenacity and a personable nature. “Franchisees need to be good with children but they also need to be good with mums, dads and other nursery workers,” she adds.

Adam Pescod
Adam Pescod