Brisbane Mum Goes From Bump to Business

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McDowall franchise of Gymboree Play & Music

Local Brisbane Mum, Gail Holding, tells us about kicking the 9 – 5 of the banking sector to the curb and becoming her own boss running her own business – the McDowall franchise of Gymboree Play & Music.


Tell us a bit about yourself.

My partner Kieran and I have 3 children – Felicity 19 (my step-daughter), Georgina 6 years, Joseph 1 and our beautiful Miniature Schnauzer Jake who is very much a part of our family. Prior to Gymboree, I have worked in Banking for about 18 years. I now own the Brisbane northside franchise of Gymboree Play & Music and have done so for 5 years.

What is Gymboree Play & Music?

Gymboree Play & Music is a play-based early learning program for children from 0 to 5 years of age. We offer 45 minute classes for children, accompanied by their parent/carer in 3 areas – Art, Music and Play & Learn. Gymboree has been operating in Brisbane for over 25 years. Our classes provide activities to help develop children’s physical, social and cognitive skills as they play – and they really work!


How did you get started?

I had just returned to work in the Banking sector after maternity leave and quickly found that my job didn’t offer the flexibility I really wanted as a new Mum. A light hearted conversation with a work colleague who was familiar with Gymboree became a catalyst for further investigation. Before I knew it, I was setting up Gymboree in a community hall 3 days per week and rejoicing in my career change.

What does the future hold for the business?

I’m excited about the business’s future. As word spreads about Gymboree amongst existing and new Mums, our numbers are growing. We are starting to see many families come back with new siblings which is wonderful to see.


What is the best bit about what you do?

We have a wonderful team at Gymboree and we all love seeing the development of children as they come each week to their class. Over a term you can really see the growth of a child. You build lovely friendships with people and it’s just an enjoyable place to work. I also have total flexibility to be involved with my daughter’s school and be at home with my son.

Any bad bits?

The bad bits are that I have to wear many hats as a small business owner and I’m not great at doing everything. Some things I do well, others I need a bit of help with and it can get a bit stressful at times. Challenge makes you grow and I’ve certainly learnt a lot about myself since starting up the business.

How do you fit work around family life?

This question makes me smile. The other day I was replying to work emails and organising an upcoming promotion. I was sitting at my kitchen table with my laptop, in my slippers and tracksuit pants, feeding Joseph in his high chair, tapping away at the computer at the same time. This, I think says it all.

What advice would you give other mums looking to work for themselves?

If you can, start up with a low cost, low risk approach to minimise your exposure. Build your customer base first then expand. Surround yourself with good people (both advisors and staff) and enjoy every minute of it.

Gail Holding, Franchisee – Gymboree Play & Music McDowall, Ph: 3878 2468, Email:

If YOU are a local Brisbane Mum who has gone from ‘Bump to Business’ and would like Brisbane to know, get in touch now!

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