Client Success Story | Sonja Nwabuoku – Young Rembrandts

After a successful two-decade career in the corporate world, Sonja began to realize that she just didn’t have the passion she once had for the work she was doing. So, she decided to look into franchising, which had been sort of a backup plan all those years. She found a franchise concept that speaks to her heart, but getting started was anything but easy. Thankfully, she stuck it out and is not only enjoying her success, but the work as well. Below, in her own words, Sonja shares her personal journey to business ownership.


From Corporate Climber to Business Owner: Sonja’s Franchise Journey



“My background? I’ve got plenty to say! As I tell people, I’m basically an open book. I started my career working in corporate marketing and media sales for Comcast and later, Kantar Media. I worked my way up the ladder and began training other company salespeople on securing commercial broadcast spots on television and advertising spend. After a few years, I went back to school and earned my MBA from the University of Georgia. This time around, my career centered on corporate finance. It wasn’t that I loved it, but my decision to work in this area was pretty much salary driven. I worked with Ford Motor Company in Detroit, then took a job with Sysco that moved me south to Houston. I learn a lot of new skills that rounded out my full business knowledge. The only problem was…I still didn’t have a passion for the work. At that point, I’d put 20 years of hard work into a career that I didn’t really enjoy all that much.”


On Deciding to Pursue an Entrepreneurial Future

“Though I lacked passion for the type of work I was doing, I did enjoy the teaching, training, and mentoring aspects of the jobs I held. I always loved teaching. I even got my teaching certificate, but I never pursued classroom work. Along the way in my career, I had put together a few successful side-hustles and that gave me a taste of entrepreneurship. I even owned a small ad agency that specialized in placing ads for local political candidates. So, I decided to look into owning my own business as a full-time gig. But first, I had to overcome my extreme reluctance in taking risks.”


On Choosing Franchising and Young Rembrandt

“My past did factor into my decision to look at franchising – which was my backup plan. But of all the opportunities out there, I couldn’t find a concept that spoke to me. I tried working with a couple of other franchise consultants. But after a while, it became obvious that they weren’t even listening to what I was saying I wanted in a business. That left me a little jaded. Though my expectations were pretty low, I did seek out FranNet and followed up with an appointment I made with Diana Trondsen.  After my first appointment where we did a personal assessment, I could tell Diana was a different kind of franchise consultant. She found five different brands for me to review, one of which was Young Rembrandts. I was attracted to the concept of working with children as well as working with and managing people in a creative and caring environment. Believe me, I’ve worked in some places where it was quite the opposite. I worked through the investigative process and when I had my Discovery Day with the brand leadership of Young Rembrandts, I just knew that these were ‘my people.’”


On Getting Started…

“I signed my agreement in October of 2018, but I didn’t actually open until March of the next year. Just as I was preparing to become my own boss, life kind of presented new challenges. I had to shift my focus to my parents, who both faced urgent health issues back-to-back. And at the same time, I found out I was pregnant with my second child. It was a challenging time. But then I remembered that I now owned my own business. I could take the time I needed to handle situations like this. Thankfully, I was able to be there for my parents and my son was born in July. Once things began to settle back down, I put my head down and got to work. Things took off pretty fast and I lined up some contracts with different school districts and other facilities. And that’s right about the time that Covid hit.”


On How it’s Going

“When Covid hit, I really began to question the timing of my decision to go into business for myself. But I accepted the situation for what it was and did everything I could to stay busy. Thankfully, I could rely on the corporate team at Young Rembrandts, who I feel did everything in their power to help us work out some solutions. I reached out to districts, gave virtual presentations, and kept planning for the day everything opened up again. And you know what? It finally did! Over the past two years, I’ve been adding accounts, earning more business, and growing in leaps and bounds. I’m now up to 11 instructors, three of whom have been with me since the very beginning. On a personal level, one of the best features to come from owning my own business is my ability to be an active parent. I get to have the level of involvement my children deserve, in attending school functions and taking them to after-school activities. To be able to participate in my children’s lives at this level just isn’t possible in a typical corporate job.”


On How FranNet of Houston Supported Her Journey

“Let me start off by saying that Diana is one of my favorite people in the world. She didn’t disappear once the contract was signed. She was always available during Covid to help me explore ways to keep moving forward. She never ran out of suggestions like online classes, birthday parties, and other ways to keep the business going. She gave me so much good advice and support that she basically became my cheerleader-in-chief! She became more than just my franchise consultant – she’s become a true friend.”

May 24, 2023