HAVING a baby just days before the Covid-19 pandemic hit was something new mums couldn’t have planned for.

Emma Richardson welcomed her daughter Flo into the world in February 2020 with the world being plunged into lockdown just a few weeks later.

The closure of baby and toddler classes for most of that year, meant that as a first-time mum, Emma was unable to take Flo to any parent and baby sessions while she was on maternity leave.

When lockdown restrictions were lifted, she went along to a Popcat’s Music Time class with a friend and her baby and quickly fell in love with the experience.

Fast forward two years, and Emma became franchisee of Popcat’s Music Time Warrington and now welcomes parents and carers with their babies toddlers every week to her fun-filled classes.

Here, in our latest Business of the Week feature, Emma tells us why she and her daughter Flo were so taken with Popcat’s, what makes her classes so special and how, together with her husband, she is always striving to improve the business.

If you would like your business to feature as Business or Trader of the Week, email heidi.summerfield@newsquest.co.uk

Emma Richardson launched Popcats Music Time Warrington in April 2022

Emma Richardson launched Popcat's Music Time Warrington in April 2022

What’s your full name?

Emma Richardson

What’s the name of the business?

Popcat’s Music Time Warrington

What’s the address?

I have classes at Hood Lane Community Centre and Tim Parry Community Centre

Are you the owner/manager?

I am the WA5 franchise owner.

When did you open the business?

April 2022

Has it always been in the same location?

No – we began life at Westbrook Library and then as class sizes grew, we moved to Hood Lane Community Centre, which provides the perfect environment for our classes. We’ve recently branched out to Tim Parry Community Centre too and we run a class there every Thursday.

The repetitive nature of the class structure is designed to build confidence in little ones

The repetitive nature of the class structure is designed to build confidence in little ones

Are you local to the area? Did you grow up here?

Yes, I have always lived in Warrington.

Tell me a bit about your business. What do you do? What services do you provide?

Popcat’s Music Time is a class designed for nought to five-year-olds.

Why did you decide to open your own business?

I discovered Popcat’s classes soon after the lockdown restrictions in 2020 were lifted. To be honest, I was an anxious first-time mum. My little girl, Flo, was born in February 2020, so she was a lockdown baby. One of my friends suggested that I come to a Popcat’s class with her and her little girl. I nervously went along and Flo clung to me like a koala bear for the duration. I know it sounds like a tiny step, but getting back out there with other parents and children was a huge step for me and it was a first for Flo. It ended up being a weekly outing for us and while my own confidence began to grow, so did Flo’s. The repetitive nature of the class structure is designed to build confidence in little ones and before I knew it, Flo was taking part from start to finish – she even ventured away from me to mix with other children. I just loved the joy that the class brought and the development that I saw in Flo blew me away! The one drawback was that we had to travel around an hour to the location of the class – there wasn’t a Popcat’s class in Warrington.

I think that when you have a positive experience, you naturally want others to experience the same. My background has always been in education and dance – I love working with children - I think it’s because I’m still a child at heart too! When the opportunity was presented to me, I couldn’t not bring Popcat’s to Warrington. I honestly feel so blessed that I now get to do this as my job – watching the little ones develop, just as Flo did, brings me so much joy.

Little ones and their adults enjoy the social time at the end of each class

Little ones and their adults enjoy the social time at the end of each class


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What’s your business background?

Prior to this, I had zero business experience. I think the closest thing to business experience that I had was trading Pogs in the school playground as a 10-year-old! My background has always been in dancing, tuition and special educational needs intervention.

Being a franchise, the basic business infrastructure was in place from the word go. My husband launched a start-up around the same time, so we’ve both been riding the business learning curve together. It’s good to have somebody who’s a bit more business-minded than me to bounce ideas off. I think our combined business philosophy is the one per cent rule – we’re always looking for a way to make Popcat’s Music Time one per cent better.

Why this type of business?

The class brought me so much joy! From my own experience, I can see the impact that it can have on a child’s development. I love that it provides a welcoming environment for parents where they can watch their little ones having fun while developing at their own pace.

I’ve always had a passion for music and dance and I love working with children. My background has always been in education. Popcat’s gave me the opportunity to combine my experience with the three things that bring me the most joy: children, music and dancing!

Were you open before/during/after the Covid-19 pandemic? How did this affect your business?

No, I launched in 2022, but it was the challenges of being a first-time mum during the pandemic that led me to discovering Popcat’s Music Time – it was my first outing with Flo post-pandemic.

What makes your business different to others in the same area/field? What sets your business apart from your competitors?

I don’t really see other toddler classes as competitors. We’re so lucky in Warrington to have some amazing class leaders of a variety of classes. I actually promote other classes to the lovely families who choose to come to Popcat’s and I know the other class leaders do the same. There’s plenty time to fill with fun in a baby or toddler’s week. Something that I am very conscious of is the importance of adult-adult social time. I remember finding the lack of adult interaction a real challenge. At the end of each of our one-hour classes, the children get a healthy snack and adults get a hot drink. I know that for some, it’s their one brew of the day and their one chance to talk to other parents and grandparents. I’ve loved seeing friendships form between parents as well as children during our post-class social time.

Emma and her husband and daughter Flo

Emma, her husband John and daughter Flo


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Why do loyal customers return to your business?

The class is cleverly designed and children love that they know the structure. They become familiar which builds confidence, and just like us adults, when they’re feeling confident, they enjoy it even more. We have a super inclusive atmosphere and offer a tailored class on a Monday with a smaller class size for children with special educational needs.

What’s next? What do the next few months hold for you and your business?

I’ll be running weekly classes every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I run a class on the last Sunday of each month too. I also have the pleasure of visiting a couple of pre-schools to deliver Popcat’s classes to their little ones a couple of times a month. I have lots of Popcat’s party bookings too, so a busy few months ahead for Popcat’s and me!

A little down the line, once Flo starts school, the plan is to roll out more classes at other venues across Warrington.