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Child's play for Katie
Katie Fanstone has her hands full with three boys aged eight, six and three, plus a part-time job helping to run an Internet business selling maternity and nursing clothing.
For most women, starting up a new business venture would not be high on the list of priorities. But Ms Fanstone was inspired by the example of her friend Ruth Peters, who is co-founder of the new company, Mucky Rascals.
In 2007, just after giving birth to twins, Ms Peters set up web-based firm Mama Cocoon to sell organic maternity and nursing clothes.
Her business, which now includes a range of baby items, has become so successful that she recruited Ms Fanstone, a neighbour in Wallingford, to cope with demand.
Ms Fanstone said: “I have three boys and we are always looking for things to sell through Mama Cocoon. Ruth was a teacher and we were looking for plastic placemats, something really bright and colourful, but also with an educational slant.”
Since there was nothing suitable being made, the pair decided to design the mats themselves.
“We hired an illustrator, Mark Ruffle, and told him exactly what we wanted — dotted lines so children can trace the shapes. We started thinking about it just before Christmas and we launched over the Easter holidays.”
As well as selling the mats via Mama Cocoon, they are using the marketing skills they have built up over the past few years.
“We are selling them through Amazon and will be contacting other websites and gift shops. We are also sending them for review to popular mums’ websites.”
Another idea is to sell them through pre-schools as part of fundraising.
“We both have children going to pre-school and they are always looking for fundraising ideas — collecting yoghurt tops and so on. We are offering them £1 from every mat sold.”
If all goes well, the first two designs — counting and alphabet games — will be followed by undersea and space versions.
Ms Fanstone added: “The long-term plan is to have matching plates and cutlery. My three-year-old loves the counting — he finds five shells, six crabs, one parrot, and so on.
“It distracts them if they are not wanting to eat. You can feed them while they are looking at the picture.” Contact: email@example.com Web: www.muckyrascals.com