After completing my postgraduate degree in January 2014 I realised I rather liked the idea of making and creating things, and was much more interested in pursuing something of my own, than working for a studio (no offence studio).
I was inspired by friends who had struck out on their own and were making a success of it – that’s you Polly George and you too Becca Stern.
So I sat down with a very good friend of mine, Susie Huey, and we started thinking about ideas for a business.
Very quickly we turned our heads to the idea of creating kits or collections for children to play with. Having 4 children between us, we were very keen to create something for the children’s market. Something that was gender neutral, and that encouraged creativity and play.
We looked at the fantastic Seedling in New Zealand, and we both loved their products. However, we didn’t want to just copy what they were doing.
It was at that point that I began thinking about my maps and walks, and wondering if I could make something like that for children. Would kids be interested in doing a walk? I could barely get my daughter to walk into town!
I suppose that’s when I had a bit of a lightbulb moment. I realised that the walks didn’t have to be real walks. They could be imagined walks.
And the map didn’t need to be an actual place, but it could be an imagined place – like the maps you used to get at the front of children’s books. I always loved the maps at the front of the Milly Molly Mandy books.
That was when it struck me, that the whole thing could be like a book, but not actually a book. A deconstructed book, that children could use to make their own stories with. So it was sort of a kit, but so much more than that.
We did some competitor research, and found that apart from the very brilliant Rory Story Cubes, there wasn’t anything like this idea on the market for children. We would be providing all the ingredients for a great story, and giving children everything they needed - apart from writing the story itself. And our product would be tactile and experiential, so children could really immerse themselves in the activity and ‘live’ their stories – not just write them!
Here are some images of the first sketches for the characters, and some early mood boards - together with the MMM map!
Next time I'll be discussing how I moved the Walk-in-Book from just an idea into a fully fledged (and funded!) product.
See you soon, Mel