We caught up with creative entrepreneur Corinna Bordoli to talk about her new adventures in babysitting with ToddlerTunez after studying Drama at Queen Mary.
Tell us about ToddlerTunez. What’s the idea and how did it come about?
After graduating in Drama at Queen Mary, I started a Master in Arts and Cultural Management at King’s College. There I met Lea – my co-founder. One of the first things I remember about her is that she told me she had been babysitting on the side during her undergraduate degree in Music. She had created a company to better sell her services as musical babysitter, but at the time it was her alone doing the babysitting. I straight-away related to her as I also did babysitting on the side of my studies, and thinking about it, it had also been creative, mostly focusing on crafts and all families loved it. After completing my masters, we both went off to careers in arts administration. In December 2018, Lea asked me to join her as a co-founder of ToddlerTunez as she wanted to scale the business and give it a bit of a shake!
At the time, ToddlerTunez was basically musical babysitting to 0-5 year olds. When Lea and I started brainstorming together, we realised that we could do so much more with it! Now ToddlerTunez has a growing pool of sitters and we have recently started our first official marketing campaign. We cater for children from 0 to 15 with three different services – ToddlerTunez still 0 to 5 year olds, RocketTunez for children 6-10 years old, and FineTunerz for 11 to 15 year olds. ToddlerTunez combines two services in one: babysitting with creativity. All sitters help families with the usual babysitting chores – picking children up from school, taking them home, occasionally cooking meals. But they also provide creative sessions during those times, completely tailored to the families’ requirements. We match families with the perfect sitter for them – we also cater for different foreign languages and specific skills. Our sitters are all DBS checked and are professionals in their craft – we have actors, dancers, choreographers, musicians, singers and also puppeteers, mask makers, and more!
What are your favourite things about starting up a business?
All the reasons why I love starting up a business are connected to creativity. I have so many ideas every day. When you set up your own business you can actually follow all your ideas through and spend your time and energy making them happen. I love being able to set my own goals and achieve them following my own values. ToddlerTunez holds sustainability and diversity close to its heart and being the founder of a company gives you the option to operate following those values completely. Another one of my favourite things is the speed of learning.
ToddlerTunez is the first business for both my cofounder and I, and as I have been working as an employee for a while during my journey with ToddlerTunez, I have been realising that what I love most is learning. In a job as an employee, you learn intensively for the first two-three months. As an entrepreneur, you can learn at the same intensity every day. I had to quickly learn about taxes, pitching, marketing and every day it is a challenge and there is something I realise I have to learn. Which makes every day absolutely worth it.
Another one of my favourite aspects of being an entrepreneur is the connections made with people. Seeing people loving your business and being able to create a community around it is my goal. We are a business that is solving two problems in one – that of helping families save time and money by combining two services in one, and that of unemployment of creative professionals. Being able to solve those problems is definitely a reason to get out of bed every morning and work hard.
Who or what inspires you to make the project happen?
As a child, I grew up with au-pairs. The one I remember most and whom I am still friends with now – Barbara – was extremely creative. I still love doing my crafts and singing in my free time and I use creativity in my daily life – being an entrepreneur is the most creative job in my opinion. Exposure to creativity in early years is proven to help development including fine motor skills, speech, social skills etc. It also helps developing problem solving, listening, communication skills, and it gives lots of tools to develop imagination, mindfulness and concentration and to help adults never stop playing. This is what I think is most valuable for everyone and I believe all children should be granted exposure to creativity for those reasons.
With ToddlerTunez, Lea and I really want to help families in the UK, offering a service that is almost self organised as we do all the admin, so that all families can access it easily. A more mindful, creative society full of individuals who collaborate to solve problems is the world I want to see in the future. This inspires me every day to work on ToddlerTunez and I think it can contribute to the present and future happiness of families.
What would be your top tips for students to think about if they want to start a business or project?
First of all,I encourage everyone to dive into any work opportunities that come up – whatever the job is – as it will provide a lot of skills but mostly makes you realise what it is that you really want or don’t want to do. I felt a bit ‘behind’ as coming from Italy, I had never studied drama before, so during university I tried to catch up on work experience. I joined societies, found more or less paid internships, worked for catering companies, worked as a model in the fashion industry, organised events freelance and did my occasional babysitting. That helped me see so much of the world and understand a lot about myself. This helped me find the field that I love – arts administration and operations – and gain experience in it.
After you have found your field, I suggest you to share and challenge your ideas with family, friends and strangers and start testing your ideas out. If you are interested in starting up a business I suggest you to listen to entrepreneurs’ podcasts, meet up with local entrepreneurs from whom you can learn about almost anything. Entrepreneurship is a very high-responsibility activity and can often feel lonely, but it can be lived amazingly when feeling part of a community.
How could students at Queen Mary help?
ToddlerTunez is currently looking for friends who value creativity, diversity, sustainability and love our idea to join our community. We need ambassadors and volunteers to help us spread the word through marketing and help in administration. In exchange, students will gain experience in arts administration and in the startup environment. This is also an occasion to meet friends and to get inspired by other amazing creatives. Every Friday afternoon this January, we are organising meet-ups around London, so let us know if you want to join, and tell your friends!
Get in touch if you know any potential clients, are interested in gaining experience in arts administration, becoming a sitter or knowing more about us! We are also eager to hear about your ideas on key locations, events, communities where we can best spread the word about ToddlerTunez.