Our story our journey
How did I end up making childrens products in Exeter, Devon? Where do I start? Talking about myself is something I am not very used to, but here we go.
I grew up in Northern Ireland, my parents were and are farmers. We moved to England in the 1970’s when I was very young to a farm in Cleobury Mortimer, Shropshire. My childhood (1 of 3 siblings) was spent on the farm and this is where I got my love for all things practical.
University & beyond
Not sure how it happened, but I ended up going to University in Oxford (the other one) to study Occupational Therapy. I had 3 fab years doing placements in various hospitals before getting a job in London. Very quickly I ended up travelling and settled in New Zealand where I worked as an Occupational Therapist for a while before heading back to the UK to start work for a council in London in Social Services.
Hello Devon hello Harry
We lived in a small terraced house in Reading and the time seemed right to investigate if we could afford to move to something that might one day be a family home. Working for yourself you don’t have the security of a steady income so we decided this might need to be a ‘forever’ home which led us to look out of Reading to the Exeter area because its near the seaside. We moved and the following year Harry was born.
An accidental business
Through a random set of circumstances, I ended up working as a private OT alongside a company that worked with national charities providing wheelchairs and a variety of other equipment that helped improve people’s independence. It was very exciting and I quickly moved from being a private OT to running (with my husband) a small OT related business for about 15 years. We worked with Care Homes, Social Services & Charities around the country.
When Harry Was 8
When Harry was 8 we faced the perfect storm. One of our main business partners went into liquidation owing us thousands of pounds and taking with them 95% of our work. Harry was diagnosed with Coeliac disease and we decided to end our 3 year journey to adopt (long story but not connected to the above).
Feeling weak and defeated we sat in Harry’s bedroom on bean bags with big comforting duvets over us trying to work out what the future might look like. We were so fed up with others controlling our destinies that we decided to take our lives into our own hands. Anne was practical and could make almost anything and Harry needed a new bed. So, being the very clever people we are, we put 2 and 2 together and thought why don’t we make children’s beds (website on the way), and then it was why don’t we also make children’s mud kitchens? However, it couldn’t be any mud kitchen. They had to be the most exciting ones in the world. Our kitchens had to be multi sensory play stations, equipped with art easels, wormeries and shop doors.
What has become even more important since Harry’s diagnosis is we want our kitchens to try and inspire children to get excited about their food and where it comes from. We want kids to get their hands dirty and start planting and cooking and in the process learn about allergies and conditions that affect so many of our children. Perhaps some day, one of our chefs can come up with a way of making gluten free croissants taste amazing!!
Everything we create has to try and have that wow factor !! We had the perfect team, Paul a teacher, Anne the carpenter and Harry the child, our secret weapon who could give us insights into what children loved. What could possibly go wrong !!
If I’m honest, it has been a difficult, messy and unpredictable journey. It looks so easy on Dragons’ Den! However we feel more alive and excited than ever before. We hope you love our products and perhaps you too could have your own family adventure!