Smashing Tennis Parties was set up by Caroline Neil Dwyer and two other local mums to offer a fun and original active party option for children aged 4-12 of any tennis ability including complete beginners. We combine basic elements that children love of running around, playing games and winning prizes in a fun, innovative and active format that can be taken to any decent sized village hall or indoor venue. Every party culminates with a red carpet medal ceremony that children love – especially dancing Gangnam-style down the red carpet wearing their medals!
Caroline is married to Dom and they have three children, Oscar (8), Ruby (5) and Ella (3) and they live in Great Kingshill.
Previous career: I worked as a Manager in Children’s Services.
What gave you the inspiration to start your own business: After my third child I needed more flexibility with work in order to fit around family life. Having been involved with tennis all my life and seeing how important a really good party was to my children (planning their next party 6 months ahead of their birthday!) I decided as a Mum in South Bucks that I wanted to create an alternative to soft play and football parties for active kids. I also wanted it available to ALL children, not just those already playing tennis or members of clubs. I knew a tennis party could be adapted to any level, either gender, most locations and had the possibility for all sorts of creative games and competitions.
How did you go from having an idea to getting the business up and running:
Before getting married I’d played tennis up to national level and had also coached tennis so had great contacts. I invited four local friends with the same LTA registered coaching background round to my house one night to bounce the idea around with. They all were mums of young children themselves so recognised the challenges of making a children’s party a great success, for the birthday child and their parents! We all brought valuable skills other than tennis to the table, such as website design, marketing and editorial skills which helped us set up. We held regular meetings after the children were in bed, worked hard at our formats making up new games and twists on traditional party games, and finally launched at one of our own children’s birthdays in Feb 2011.
How do you juggle running a business and family life: Now my youngest is in pre-school I have small windows of child-free opportunity in between the various school pick up times. Also being a team of three mums has made setting up much easier, more fun, and our responsibilities are shared, juggling between us any given week. Support from my husband and children has been really important to me too as many parties fall on weekends.
What’s the best & worst thing about having your own business? The best thing about running this type of business is seeing kids loving tennis, even those who have never played. I feel really proud when a mum or child feeds back that Smashing Tennis was the best party they had ever had. Worst thing is the misconception that tennis is a Summer only sport which is frustrating at times. We have great indoor venues that actually offer the perfect Active Winter party!
Where would you like to be in 5 years time? I’d love Smashing Tennis to be running in other counties via a network of coaching friends, who have expressed interest. I’d love to see lots of “Little Smashers” trying out a new sport through Smashing Tennis camps, sessions in schools and at our parties-staying fit and most importantly having fun!
What one piece of advice would you give to other mothers hoping to start up their own business? Start small on a local level, get as much feedback as you can, and do not underestimate the power of Facebook to sell yourself!
On that note check us out at www.facebook.com/smashingtennisparties and “Like” us!!
“Like” Smashing Tennis Parties and we will enter you into a draw to win a free Smashing Tennis lesson for your child and three friends. To be drawn when we hit 200!
Lots more info at www.smashingtennisparties.co.uk