Daina Hogan started Fun Time Performers based at picturesque Banora Point nearly two decades ago in 2000, fulfilling her life long dream of owning a Performing Arts School. Transitioning between Primary School Teaching and her own venture Fun Time Performers has enabled her to blend her work and family life, as her young family has grown.
Fun Time Performers provides a safe and happy environment for children to experience the joys of dance, drama and singing. Daina is highly qualified, holding a Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Theatre, a Performer’s Certificate in Speech and Drama from Trinity College London, and passing Senior Level Exams in Ballet at the Royal Academy of Ballet, and Singing at Trinity College London.
Daina travelled internationally working with Warner Bros, hosting, dancing and singing in many shows. She is passionate about supporting other women to manage the juggle between meaningful work, family and community leadership commitments.
How did you transition from a career as a Primary School Teacher to building a successful business teaching drama, singing and dance?
Fun Time Performers started back in 2000 when I was studying a Bachelor of Education at Southern Cross University. It was actually the brainchild of my mother and a colleague of hers. I came on board as a dance teacher and we started a partnership. As time progressed, the partnership dissolved and I took over as the sole proprietor of Fun Time Performers. In those days we taught on a Saturday, which enabled me to attend uni during the week.
When I finished my degree, I was a target graduate and landed a full time teaching position with the Department of Education at Centaur Public School in Banora Point. I worked full time and taught at Fun Time Performers after work one day a week. I closed the business in 2003, and worked full time as a teacher.
In 2004, I moved to the UK and taught over there for 12 months. I was able to take 12 months leave without pay and return to my full time position. I returned to Australia in 2005 and continued to teach full time.
In 2006 I decided to re-open Fun Time Performers as I missed using my creativity.
It was at that time I found out I was pregnant with my first child. Fun Time Performers ran for another 3 years until we moved to Lismore for my husband’s career. I closed Fun Time Performers again and in 2012 re-opened it after the birth of my second child. It helped supplement my income when I was on maternity leave. I went back to part time teaching in 2013 and also ran the business.
I took 3 years off primary school teaching after the birth of my third child and continued with Fun Time Performers. At the end of 2018 I had to make a choice: go back to primary school teaching or continue with the business. I knew with 3 children I couldn’t do both. My job with the Department of Education had always been a security blanket.
I loved teaching, but I knew I had to choose one or the other. After an agonising few months, with lots of consultation with my husband and my extended family, writing down all the Pros and Cons – Fun Time Performers won. Ultimately it was a lifestyle choice. Working for myself enables me to virtually be a stay-at-home mum with an income.
What have been the key milestones in the growth of your business?
The optimal size per location is around 60-75 students. The demand is such, that this is achievable year in year out. This allows Fun Time Performers to be a niche offering, and means student places are highly sought after. This has allowed me to focus on the needs of students and parents more effectively, and over time, balance the needs of the business with that of my family and personal interests.
How has your business model and offering changed in response to changing customer needs over the past 19 years?
Originally when we opened we operated on a Saturday. Then, with the growing popularity of weekend sport, we had to change our day to a weekday to accommodate more people. The original delivery model was two days per week to accommodate more students. However this created smaller class sizes over two days, when we could actually accommodate the same amount of students in one day, making it more efficient.
Several years ago I changed the fee structure so that costume fees were absorbed into term fees. In 2018, I attempted to expand into Murwillumbah. Unfortunately a critical mass of target clients was not available, and I couldn’t sustain running the new location beyond two terms. I plan to investigate trying our program in another location in the Tweed Shire.
In 2020, we are going to shorten our year and run over 3 terms with an optional fourth term for those wanting to participate in workshop style classes. I’ve tested this model with my parent base, and have overwhelming support for the model.
What advice can you share from your experience, for parents of primary school aged children, on how to manage the ‘juggle’?
The juggle/ struggle is real. I’m definitely a person who bites off more than I can chew and then I chew like hell. Sometimes I feel that I stretch myself very thin. I am the President of the P&C at my kids primary school and the President of the pre-school my daughter attends. I’m the supervisor of my sons tennis team, a mother to 3 children – aged 13, 8 and 4 years old, a wife, a business owner and at times, I feel like a crazy woman.
My advice is organisation, although at times it is hard to maintain. Personally, organisation keeps my mental health intact and just helps us as a family to maintain a good balance. We have a weekly planner on the fridge to ensure everyone knows what is happening each week. This was a way for me to share the mental load, and to stop me feeling like I was the one navigating all that had to be done each week.
We have a cleaner who comes each fortnight. We originally did this when I was pregnant with my third child, but now we just can’t live without it. I try to allocate one day a week where I focus purely on the business. My daughter started pre-school this year, so that has been a lot easier. I am however, still working on this. I have lots of room for improvement in this area.
What has been your greatest challenge?
For a long time I didn’t really acknowledge my business as a job, or that I was a business owner/ entrepreneur. I guess at times it felt like a hobby because I was teaching at school full time.
People often perceive that I don’t work because I am very involved with my kids and their schooling. I am often at school assembly, or helping out in the canteen. One of my greatest challenges has been acknowledging that I run a business and actually telling people what I do. I need to get better at self-promoting, and understanding the value I create through Fun Time Performers is good for my family, the students, their parents and the community.
What are you most proud of?
When I finished year 12 at the age of 17, I had one dream and that was to open a Performing Arts School. I think I am most proud of the fact that I am doing something I love. I followed my dreams and fulfilled them. This was reinforced for me when I won a BEATS award in 2016 for Excellence in Creative Industries.
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