I was lucky enough to attend a soft launch on Monday and was really impressed with these amazing children's activities they have created. Just in time for Christmas too.
Tell us a little about yourselves and your background?
Linda- My first career involved making delicious sweets before moving on to helping others find employment. More than ten years later I'm now a Mum to three very lively children whilst working part-time for Diversitat in their training department and of course co-running Notabox as well. I love all things creative and watching my little ones work on their own artistic masterpieces is very satisfying.
Michelle-Linda is our brains lol, I can’t understand spread sheets or networking but I do know art. I have a degree in Visual Arts and a Postgraduate in teaching which has led me on quite an interesting and unexpected journey. I started my career teaching, first in primary then secondary school art. After falling pregnant I moved to working as a Museum education officer which includes creating and running preschool art classes. I have two young girls and love that now my creative energy and experience can go into creating the art and craft kits and accessories for kids in Notabox.
How did you come up with your business name?
Michelle - Notabox is a cardboard box (Boxy as we affectionately call him) but he is so much more-with imagination Notabox is a car, a boat, a hill, he is whatever you want him to be. This is the essence of what we wanted to be. Our products are not new, playdough, paint, crayons, these are mediums that all kids have played with and most parents have at home BUT they can be so much more. It’s not just playdough, it’s colour exploration, a piece of wood to hammer, or a suncatcher. We want to push kids (and adults) to look outside the box when it comes to exploring, creating and playing so Notabox seemed like the perfect choice.
Tell us how your product/range came about?
Michelle- Art and craft kits are pretty common these days but I hate how product based and plastic they can be. A desire to combine art education, craft activities and sensory play into one neat bundle that allows kids to create on their own terms was a must for me.
Linda - Having three children under three, shopping for craft wasn't an easy prospect. I wanted activities that were easy to pick up and complete without fuss and that worked. I knew that Michelle was a qualified Arts Educator, and proposed the idea of us getting together and making some craft packs for kids that would be easy to pick up and complete without all the research and running around.
Michelle-We also wanted to create a product that cut down on plastic packaging, we use environmentally friendly , recycled and sustainable materials where possible- our playdough containers can even be put in your compost bin!
How long have you been in business for?
We are officially launching at Piccadilly but it’s been nearly (a very long) year worth of research, designing, creating and testing to get us here
What inspires you?
Michelle-My daughter, she has the most amazingly unique perspective on life, she also has autism spectrum disorder which has made me aware of how important and beneficial sensory play can be for ALL children.
Linda- I am inspired by watching the people who surround me in life overcome challenges of all kinds.
Have you always been ‘crafty’ or has it bloomed later in life?
Michelle-I have always painted and started exhibiting in galleries in my late teens but having kids made me want to begin creating for them, first softies while they were babies and now art and craft activities that let them become a part of the creation too.
Linda-I've always dabbled here and there in amongst all the other activities in my life. Cake decorating was a large focus from age 16 until about 26 and included lots of novelty cakes and some highly detailed wedding cakes. Moving forward quite a few years I've enjoyed a variety of different short courses and have loved trying a range of different art techniques, the most recent being bijoux porcelain jewellery.
When you are not busy creating what do you love doing?
Michelle-Curling up with a cuppa and a good book.
Linda-Having three young children, a part-time job and starting a business...there's not really much time for the things I love. Let me dream for a moment....I'd love to have time to lay under a tree and read a book, time to play the piano, make over the garden, cook creative meals and scrumptious desserts, get out and exercise more often...oh and that thing they call sleep, a little more of that would be lovely.
What is something cool that most people wouldn’t know about you?
Michelle- I’ve always wanted to be a puppeteer and love all things to do with puppets, as a teenager I dreamed of working for Jim Henson creating my own Muppets. That’s probably more weird than cool though isn’t it!?
Linda- I have been training in Seido karate for 21 years and have a fourth degree black belt. It's a very traditional and respectful style and I am surrounded by some truly amazing people, who continue to inspire me.
If money was no object what would be your dream destination?
Linda-Africa, but not just for a holiday, to immerse myself in the culture and spend a month living and learning about a life quite different to my own.
Michelle- Well you have just made me look very boring Linda! Somewhere warm and tropical would be nice for a short break but I’m actually a real homebody and miss my family and friends whenever I’m not here.
What are you reading right now?
Michelle-I hate to admit this but Breaking Dawn (again) in anticipation for the last of the Twilight movies. Please don’t judge me lol.
Linda- The Covenant, James A. Michener
What is your favorite website(s) ?
Michelle- There are so many I love. Am I allowed to say Pinterest? It is my constant go to for inspiration and trends.
What wonderful Stocking Stuffers will you have on offer at Piccadilly?
Our Unique Make and Play kits are a great gift, small enough to fit under the car seat with enough inside to keep a child busy for hours. Take them on holidays or over to Grandmas house to share some special time together creating
Notabox themed crayons make a great Kris Kringle or addition to the stocking. They come with a colouring sheet and there are more that can be downloaded from our website. Great for leaf rubbings and small hands too
Delectable (but not delicious) are our sensory playdough range. My very favorite is the chocolate playdough with a lovely smooth feel and a wonderful chocolate scent, the kids love playing with it in their kitchen
Bring along your old crayons for us to recycle in to new ones and receive a 5% discount on one of our themed range.
Make sure you pop over to say Hi to the girls on Sunday for your chance to win a free kit.