Picture the scene: bright, beautiful rooms filled with excited children bellowing at the top of their lungs, closely chased by a number of helpful nannies. Their parents are blissfully unaware, enjoying some peace with the aromatic smell of coffee in the air, whilst juggling several phone calls and organising sleep-overs.

This was my introduction to the world of Maggie & Rose, London’s first family members’ club at their Kensington location. I came to interview its founder and CEO, Maggie Bolger to find out how her approach to people management has supported her growth aspirations. During my Q&A with Maggie, we discussed the importance of people within the business, entrepreneurial challenges and the power of branding. 

Maggie, what was the inspiration behind the ‘Maggie & Rose’ brand?

In 2006, with three kids and nowhere for them to go to explore their creativity and play, I took matters into my own hands and began hosting some make-believe and art classes, from my little mews. I met Rose in 2007 at a holiday camp, where I was hosting some toddler classes, and we both felt strongly about the lack of ‘inviting’ family-friendly spaces. Together, we decided to create a ‘Soho House’ environment for families, to provide children with beautiful, creative spaces in surroundings that appealed to grown-ups too.

We spent the first five years making lots of mistakes and learning through trial and error. There were times we came close to losing the business, but we had a clear vision and persevered. Now, 10 years on, we have two London clubs, a village nursery, and a beach house in Hong Kong. We have also just signed a deal to expand in China which is an absolute dream come true!

During your journey as a start-up, what were some of the challenges you faced?

Recruitment was a huge challenge when we first set out. Challenging situations taught us that we needed to train managers to recruit with more thought and consideration in order to avoid creating a mentality and culture of complacency.

What we found remarkable is that the skilled labour shortage in the UK, spread across so many industries, is also prevalent in other countries like China. We found it incredibly difficult to recruit skilled, entry-level candidates who were open to project-based teaching.

What steps did you take to overcome your recruitment challenge?

We met so many youngsters who were keen to learn and get involved with the business, but who lacked even the basic interpersonal skills, from direct eye contact to shaking hands. So, we took the initiative and created a programme that would raise standards and encourage creative thinking. In January 2018 we achieved our goal and M&R became an accredited academy. We truly believe that our nationally recognised qualification will help upskill and develop the next generation, so watch this space.

We all know that recruitment is expensive but retention is the key. By integrating a robust training and development programme in the M&R style, we hope to develop dynamic and creative people to support our growing business.

Maggie and Rose clearly has a strong brand identity with its personalised napkins to wall art to your own training programme. Do you have any advice on building a brand?

Invest in your business strategy and brainstorm and share ideas and opinions. Spend some time and money to really understand what your business values and culture are and get someone to challenge them. Consultants love to get you thinking outside the box. Even if you don’t get a consultant – do it with a friend. Having a comprehensive business strategy gives you so much confidence, motivation and most importantly focus.

You can see our brand messaging is based on providing children with beautiful creative spaces, in surroundings that appeal to grown-ups. This clear vision and our passion to inspire families to learn together through play has been one of our core strengths. Good smart branding comes down to staying true and consistent with your values, vision and style.

Thank you for your time. It’s been great meeting you and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Maggie & Rose

At Tassic, our approach is to empower our clients by sharing insights and experiences. We’d love to hear your story!