Jen Callister has been working non-stop to build up her own business since returning to the Isle of Man and she’s reaping the rewards.
Her Ready Steady brand sees her providing children’s entertainment at parties and running dance fitness classes, plus bespoke services for weddings and hen-dos, while she also teaches musical theatre with one of the island’s leading drama companies.
Jen, 29, has returned to the Isle of Man after a number of years performing in musical theatre in and around London, during which time she also toured Italy in a production of Beauty and the Beast.
Recent sightings of Jen have included her dressing up as an elf to entertain in the run-up to Christmas.
She has also been working part-time in a Douglas nursery as she builds up her Ready Steady business.
Jen, who moved back to Port St Mary to be with her mum about a year ago, went to London when she was 18, training at the Urdang Academy and then working in musical theatre.
‘It was on the side of that – when you are in and out of jobs in the theatre – that I went into children’s parties and working and teaching children in drama and dance,’ she said.
‘I just thought now was the time to come back and see if I could do it in the Isle of Man.
‘When you are in London it gets to the point where you feel you have got to be near family and, to be honest, if you are going to start a new business you might as well do it at home.
‘People know me here and there is a lot of support.’
Jen, who is also head of musical theatre at Parker & Snell, has had help with a micro-business grant from the Manx Government, and she is now seeing her Ready Steady business grow.
‘I feel very lucky,’ she said. ‘My business has only been going a year but in the next few months it will be my full-time job, because it has taken off so quickly.
‘Because it is the Isle of Man, it is a close-knit place and if you do a good job of things, people hear about it.
‘I do Ready Steady Party and Ready Steady Dance. Now, when I am not doing bookings for parties, I am being Elfie in the run up to Christmas!’
Jen’s dance classes operate from several locations around the island.
She has also been invited into some schools to help with wellness programmes for staff.
Jen is always keen to team up with other local talent, whether it is for face-painting at one of her parties or using Isle of Man expertise to set up her own website.
Being in the Isle of Man has been a huge help for Jen in starting up her business.
‘I feel very blessed to have been born here. I had a great time in London but nowhere feels like home like it does here,’ she said.
‘To be able to come back and build a business is amazing.
‘It is so refreshing when I put the work in and have people to say, “You have done well”.’
Jen said sometimes there may be a reluctance, among people who have left the Isle of Man, to make the decision to return, but she encourages others not to rule it out.
‘It can be hard to come back to the Isle of Man because you worry people might say, “You didn’t make it.” But I did. I had a great time in London but you get to a point when you want to move on.
‘I was eager to see what Ready Steady had to offer and do something for myself. I am so happy I did it.’