- Rachel Barac
Owner of Jitterbugs
What Were You Doing Before Jitterbugs?
After a short-lived first career in advertising, I realized my childhood plan of ‘being a teacher when I grow up’ was actually right! I’ve always loved children and realized to truly feel satisfied with my work, I needed to be surrounded by them! So I went back to being a student and earned my Masters in Education and became an elementary school teacher. I felt I had finally found my calling and had been teaching for about 6 years when my husband’s job moved us to Shanghai in 2012. I quickly realized I was one of the lucky ‘trailing spouses’ that could easily continue my career here. First, I taught English at a local school so I could really experience the Chinese school system and wow did I learn a lot! I moved on to do private tutoring, led some ‘mommy and me’ classes, and taught at two international schools, amongst other things!
How Did You Come To Own And Run Jitterbugs?
Simply put, I was in the right place at the right time ... and I like to think I was the right person for the job! I was still teaching, about seven months pregnant and contemplating how I could find a good work/home balance once baby arrived. Then a few friends told me that their beloved Jitterbugs may be closing, as the owner was moving away, and they urged me to look into it.
What’s the best thing about having your own business?
I knew of the program and had always heard great things about it, but I didn’t think I had an entrepreneurial bone in my body! The more I thought about it though, the more it seemed too good to be true. Perhaps this was the perfect blend of teaching, advertising and business. After meeting the previous owner, Michelle, and getting to know the program, I quickly fell in love with Jitterbugs and knew I wanted my baby and I to be a part of it. It was so refreshing to see such a diverse group of families in a fun, casual setting moving, playing and learning together. Yes, it seemed a bit crazy to take over a business just weeks before becoming a mom, but I rarely turn down an opportunity, and this one just seemed serendipitous! So, I took a leap of faith and went for it! My final days of pregnancy were spent ‘Bopping till I drop’ and ‘Shaking my sillies out’ with our Jitterbugs (gently of course!), hiring and training staff and setting up new processes. Thankfully, our little guy, Quinn, waited for his Mommy to be ready before his arrival! It was a busy first few months juggling a newborn and a new business (not to mention hormones!), but I powered through with the help of my amazing husband and Ayi, and am so glad I did! I’ve now been with Jitterbugs almost a year and a half and am so proud of what is has become and love our JB community!
There are so many aspects of being an entrepreneur that I love! The freedom to decide, spend, hire, create, change and grow as I wish is so liberating and empowering. Jitterbugs has become my second baby and seeing what I’ve developed succeed and grow into a part of the community is so rewarding. There is nothing better than getting positive feedback - especially in the form of smiling faces at our classes! As an elementary teacher I was able to be a positive influence in the lives of just my classroom of 20 students, but now Jitterbugs brings joy and family fun to so many! I guess it turns out I had an entrepreneurial side after all.
What's The Best Advice You've Been Given?
Take baby steps. No pun intended! I have a tendency to never say no- especially to myself! I see so much potential for Jitterbugs and have so many ideas I wish I could implement overnight, but I’m slowly learning to only run with one or two new ideas at a time and make sure they’re well executed, rather than drown myself in too many projects. Of course I want my business to be constantly evolving and improving, but at the end of the day as long as Jitterbugs remains a welcoming, safe, fun place for Shanghai families to come and grow together, then my job is done!
If you would like to reach Emily to learn more about Jitterbugs please contact her.
WeChat ID: Jitterbugs Shanghai
And check out: www.jitterbugsinshanghai.com