‘I used my redundancy money from British Airways to start a kids business’

Sophia Procter with her Thomas and Friends Munchy Play product (Munchy Play)

Sophia Procter with her Thomas and Good friends Munchy Enjoy merchandise (Munchy Participate in)

Sophia Procter was communications supervisor at British Airways for virtually a 10 years, managing the airline’s consumer PR which includes get the job done on the London 2012 Olympic Online games. Soon soon after the now-43-calendar year-outdated returned from maternity go away in 2017, a corporate reshuffle saw Procter facial area redundancy. Obtaining just invented a kids’ plate with a engage in observe around the edge to lure her fussy son to consume additional, she resolved to use her redundancy package deal from BA to start out a enterprise of her possess.

“I arrived up with the notion for Munchy Play just after a extensive day at do the job. I had just picked my son up from nursery, and experienced ‘mum guilt’ for not paying out time with him, so attempted to make it up by cooking a nourishing food. Other than, like numerous 18-month-olds, he had lost all curiosity in mealtimes. This distinct day I’d made him a curry from scratch, but he refused to come to the table. I realised he was getting too considerably pleasurable with his toys and the meal desk was boring. So, I grabbed the trains and monitor he was playing with, and put it all around his plate. In that instant almost everything improved. He not only arrived to the desk, but sat there and ate. That was my lightbulb moment.

“When I took redundancy in 2017, I went straight into establishing Munchy Enjoy, even though freelancing to help fund it. When I seemed at what was included in launching a new item — from intellectual assets legal rights, to obtaining metal machinery — I realised it was a sizeable sum. I invested all of my redundancy and some of my private discounts to get it off the floor — about £50,000.

“Having a wonderful idea is 1 thing, and bringing it to everyday living is very one more. The very first thing I did was due diligence — lots and plenty of investigate checking the plan didn’t exist, just before protecting it with style and design legal rights and intellectual property. Subsequent, I approached trade bodies to locate a British manufacturer: even if it charge extra, I considered that dad and mom believe in British items, I wouldn’t have the fret of provide chain difficulties, and I was eager to devote in our overall economy.

“Once I identified the right company, they informed me I’d have to have CAD patterns from which the metal equipment would be produced, so I made a prototype and took it to the streets of London, thrusting it into parents’ arms for opinions! Naively, I considered I’d have it accomplished in considerably less than a 12 months. But as I was generating a blueprint from scratch, there was a whole lot of back again and forth, tests and failure. It took three a long time to make it materialize. Along the way even though, l was spurred on by some good individuals. I gained mentorship from Innovate United kingdom and the ‘Inventor in Residence’ at the British Library.

“I was lastly completely ready to launch — with a several thousand plates ready to ship — in March 2020. Very well, we all know what happened next. I experienced no selection but to push pause on the start. I ongoing freelancing, assisting small corporations with crisis PR. Then, about May perhaps, I realised that there was an opportunity below. Mom and dad like me had been stuck at residence, fatigued from house schooling and childcare, seeking for any sort of gentle aid – particularly if it could be shipped to their door. So I decided to overhaul the business approach to target on selling on the internet, and launched Munchy Play in June 2020.

“Launching in the middle of a world pandemic was unquestionably not uncomplicated – but I took total benefit of all the guidance out there. Amazon and Company Nation had launched programmes to help start off-ups, which I joined. This bought me on BBC Breakfast news! Joe Wicks’ place of work utilized to be near mine, so I dropped off some plates for his little ones, and a handful of weeks later on he used them on his Instagram account.

“When we gained ‘Small Company Sunday’ an initiative hosted by [entrepreneur] Theo Paphitis to help compact corporations, our social media went into overdrive and it gave us credibility far too. 6 months right after launching, I approached Mattel as a licence partner, and we’ve been doing work together ever due to the fact. Launching the Thomas & Friends™ collection last calendar year was a significant minute.

“We’ve now offered 10,000 plates. The next milestone is having into Higher Street retail. Shoppers continue to keep asking us when we will be in John Lewis, Smyths Toys, Argos, Hamleys, Ocado and even on QVC. I would seriously love to see that happen. We’re launching a new auto plate selection and expanding into world markets — especially United states — is one thing I’d like to look at as our organization grows, perhaps with the assist of traders in the upcoming.

“Taking redundancy was a hard selection, having said that it was the suitable 1. It enabled me to launch an award-winning product or service and gave me the independence to work flexibly, a little something I’m grateful for as a mom.”