Sunday, 21 April 2019

Couple’s start-up business is literally... child’s play

Couple’s start-up business is literally... child’s play

A COUPLE from Wargrave have started their own business making activity boxes for children after being inspired by their own sons.

Tom and Sarah Lewis founded ExplorerTots, which offers packs of outdoor activities based around science, maths and the environment, in November.

Their first product, ExplorerBox, has three types — space, science and woodland — and has proved so popular that the couple plan to expand the range.

Mr and Mrs Lewis, who are both 36, live off Victoria Road, with their boys, William, four, and Benjamin, two, after moving from London.

They had discussed starting their own business for years and decided to take the plunge after Benjamin was born.

Mrs Lewis, 36, left her job as a business consultant but her husband continues to work in the same role.

“We both wanted to set up our own company and talked about it a lot before we had kids,” said Mrs Lewis.

“Now seemed like a good time to do it. We are fortunate that Tom is able to stay in his job and I can be around for the kids.

“We had a lot of business ideas but it’s important to think about the lifestyle you want. We chose a business we can run online from home, offering good customer service which isn’t instantaneous and that we can grow as our family grows.

“The idea for the brand came from having adventures with the children and seeing how amazing it is for them to explore the world.

“Little things like finding a spider in the garden are really exciting for them and we’ve had a lot of conversations about life and the world.”

Each box has four activities based on a theme, encouraging youngsters to explore the world and learn. The activities include making a rocket which is propelled by stamping on an inflatable pad, growing cress on a model of a head and building a bird feeder with seeds.

The boxes cost £23.99 each and include fact sheets and booklets for children to fill in. Themes for future boxes include oceans, archaeology and weather.

Mrs Lewis said: “They are focused on STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and maths — and the idea is to get children outdoors and thinking about things. They can explore and spend time with their parents, grandparents or nannies. It’s a real family thing.

“The people who get their hands on the boxes absolutely love them.”

The couple tested the activities on their own children and with the help of friends’ families.

Mrs Lewis said: “Our boys love all the activities. They are my inspiration and we have done a lot of cool stuff together.

“We’ve also tested them on friends and asked them to nominate people with different lifestyles to receive a box anonymously and send us feedback.”

The couple have tried to use local companies for their materials and printing and put together the boxes themselves.

Mrs Lewis said: “They take quite a long time to put together but we’ve refined it to quite a slick process.

“Christmas was a hectic time as we did a lot of fairs and had to make a lot of boxes in one go. Now we keep a stock of boxes and it all happens in our kitchen and garage.”

The couple plan to offer smaller boxes and bags for parties as well as equipment for outdoor adventures including binoculars and Wellington boots.

The couple also hope their children will take an interest as they grow up.

Mrs Lewis said: “Tom and I had good, solid corporate jobs and it’s quite hard to walk away from that and take the leap.

“Having kids was the nudge as I couldn’t be commuting to London every day and not be around for them as much as I wanted to be.

“It’s great for the kids to see their parents as role models, making something happen and they want to get involved too. If I have a delivery they help me drag the boxes in and open them up and they also help me take the boxes to the post office.

“It might be the start of them being a part of the family business.”

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