One week and counting and it’s back-to-school preschool style! We know you mamas of preschoolers are counting down the hours, actually, no seconds! Hang tight, there is light at the end of the tunnel. We want you to meet Ashley Joseph, owner of the best preschool gig in town, Gymboree Play & Music. Ashley and her staff have been the lifeline of preschool moms all over the QC.
For years, Gymboree Play & Music has been a new mom’s survival guide. Gymboree Play & Music has been fostering creativity and confidence in children ages 0-5 for over 30 years. Designed by experts, their age-appropriate activities help develop the cognitive, physical and social skills of children as they play. Team Smarty credits Gymboree for introducing us to our best mommy friends to date!
Let’s get cozy with Ashley!
What motivated you to start your business?
I was in the corporate world for many years before my first child was born. After he was born, I found myself wanting to spend as much time with him as possible, but I also realized that I always needed to have a project and something intellectually interesting to work on. When I purchased the rights to Gymboree Play & Music in Charlotte, the business was in need of a complete overhaul on every dimension, and it gave me an endless set of challenges to work on. However, I could work on ALL of them with my son at my side in a place that brought happiness and smiles to many, many families and children!
What is your favorite part about your job?
My favorite part has changed over the years. In the early years, my favorite part was seeing Gymboree evolve into a vibrant, safe, fun place for moms & dads to engage with their little ones in a different way, but also engage with each other and make new connections and friends. Countless, enduring play groups and friendships have been formed at Gymboree! In the years since I’ve increasingly stepped back from the daily operations of the business, I still love all of the things I loved in the beginning, but my favorite part has been watching my staff grow into their roles, as both teachers and leaders. My management philosophy is to hire great people, teach them to do their jobs, and then get out of their way and let them do them!
What is your vision with Gymboree?
I want Gymboree to anticipate and meet the needs of today’s busy families. We try to offer a variety of class times and options, but we also offer about 10 hours a week of “free play” that is just a time for enrolled kids to run around, jump and have fun. We’ve very deliberately scheduled some of those times to be convenient for the entire family, with evening and weekend times available. We try to have options for families with two working parents and options for families with more than one child. That said, we can’t be everything to every family, so we try hard to know what we are really good at and provide that in spades. Gymboree is not a “mini-gymnastics place.” We focus on the whole child – body AND mind – and encourage children to exercise their imaginations, creativity and budding logic skills just as much as we encourage them to use their bodies to jump, slide and run!
How has running your business affected how you are raising your children?
In the most practical sense, I had to learn an enormous amount about child development when I became a Gymboree franchisee. But, seeing so many different kids and families reinforces to me every day that “normal is just a setting on the dryer.” I endeavor to treat my kids as individuals, allowing them to build on their strengths while helping them develop areas that come less naturally. I don’t know if I was as staunch a supporter of “follow the child” before I owned Gymboree.
How can I register my child?
We always invite you to try a class (or two, if it’s overwhelming for your child the first time!) before you enroll. You can sign-up for a trial class and enroll for classes at www.gymboreeclasses.com. We also have a facebook page at Gymboree Play & Music – Ballantyne. One thing to know is that you can unenroll from Gymboree just as easily as you can enroll. Though we do use a month-to-month membership model, we don’t play games about how far in advance you have to cancel, etc. If you tell us you want to stop before we bill you, we don’t bill you! Oh, and we do awesome, reasonably-priced birthday parties too (1st to 4th birthday)!