I recently had the privilege of interviewing Hannah Perry, founder of The Giggling Pig Art & Party Studio in Shelton, Connecticut. The studio is a fixture in her community, letting children of all ages take part in art classes or after-school enrichment programs. It’s a place where creativity and curiosity flourish. But what’s truly great about is that Hannah embodies the quintessential American success story, from her arrival in the U.S. with little more than pocket change, to the present day, which finds her mulling franchising options and planning for the long haul. Here’s her story.
Hannah Perry – The Humble Beginning
Hannah founded the Giggling Pig Studio in 2005, but didn’t open her first location until 2011. The studio takes its name from a children’s storybook that Hannah wrote and illustrated called The Giggling Pig and Friends. This love of whimsy and playfulness inspires everything Hannah has accomplished in recent years.
Let’s take a step backward. How did this all start?
Hannah grew up in England and began her professional life caring for the children of royalty in Italy and Switzerland. It was with this experience that she moved to the U.S. and got her first job in 1999.
Life was tough for a while. Hannah arrived in the States with essentially nothing.
“I’m definitely a hustler,” she told me. “I worked from nothing. I came to America when I was 19 with about $15 in my pocket, which had to last me two days.”
You heard that correctly. Hannah built her business with just barely enough money to afford two slices of pizza and a Snapple. She worked a full seven days each week for a while, and slowly grew her studio’s footprint from a single room into the impressive business it is today. The Giggling Pig now occupies a two-thousand-square-foot facility, with both indoor and outdoor areas.
The Recipe for Success
Hannah exudes humility, and I can’t help but think that’s one of her secrets for success. When I asked her how she made her business grow so rapidly, her response was surprisingly straightforward: “I just made myself available to my customers… I met their needs, no matter what they were.”
Being adaptive is another lesson that’s helped the Giggling Pig Studio grow by leaps and bounds over the years. Hannah says she still experiences challenges on a weekly basis, but has learned to take them in stride. As with any business, the occasional unhappy customer must be dealt with, but Hannah’s attitude towards these customers is nothing short of inspiring: “I love those customers,” she says. “They make me better at what I do.”
Of course, a growing business also needs a reliable pool of talent, and the Giggling Pig has been lucky in that respect. “I think I’ve been very blessed… I’ve encountered fabulous people that just wanted to help.”
The recipe for success has as much to do with having a clear vision as it does with recognizing passion and talent. Hannah has surrounded herself with people who share her love of children, and her business proves the value of that dedication every day.
To listen to Hannah’s experience in her own words, check out our video interview below: