BEHIND THE BRAND | Teddo Play
Can you give an introduction to who you are and who/what your brand is and how long your brand has been around for? Is this your first Top Drawer?
Hello, we’re Keisha & Amit, the wife & husband team behind our multi-award-winning educational brand, Teddo Play. In the past 1.5 years since our launch, we have become a much-loved British brand and a go-to place for highly versatile quality educational gifts that work across generations and can be used by children for years together!
This is our very first trade show and we can’t wait to meet businesses in person, show them first-hand our growing range of educational products for children 2-14 years old. We have sorely missed shows and exhibitions in this past year. At Top Drawer, we are really looking forward to buyers touching and feeling the high quality of our products and appreciating the versatility of our learning resources that are loved by parents, families, teachers, professionals, across the board.
At Teddo Play, we create many varieties of highly versatile sturdy Visual Learning Sets, Portable Learning Boards & other Learning Resources which include detailed high-definition real-life imagery/realistic illustrations in natural surroundings accompanied by easily absorbable pieces of information that help encourage conversations and make grasping and retaining of information easier in children.
With a clear focus on a specific Learning Theme, each of our products helps promote knowledge & a deeper understanding of various concepts & subjects to help boost children's IQ levels, build a robust visual memory & instil a natural enthusiasm for a life-long love of learning in them.
We were recently seen live on TV on BBC News, are regularly featured and quoted in a number of national and local press and media. Recognised as the 'Best in Children's Development Products' this year by the England Prestige Awards, selected by the renowned entrepreneur Theo Paphitis, from the Dragon's Den, as one of his small business winners, and recognised as the 'Most Innovative Children's Product Brand Director (UK)' by the AI Influential Business Women Awards 2021, all our Learning Resources are highly engaging & interactive making them a loved resource across children (and adults!) of all ages, needs and abilities.
How did you start your brand? (Include where the idea come from and who/what was your inspiration, who helped you along the way etc.)
I am very passionate about all things learning and knowledge and have been providing education and language training to children and adults since I was 18. I have always been a huge advocate of giving accurate knowledge and information to children. When we show strange cartoon images to children, adults might find it cute but for children, they think that's the reality. You don't want your child to think that it's ok to go and give a cuddle to a rhino or a lion. Children are like sponges.
By the time they turn five, research shows that 90% of a child's brain has developed! We ought to make the most of the early years and give them the best possible experiences rich in play and learning and help lay a robust foundation for their future.
When I began to design our learning resources, I wanted to make sure that they contained real-life imagery, accurate and interesting information and are super fun and engaging for children. I also wanted to ensure that they have a much deeper learning and conversational element to each one of them. Our resources are full of prompts to encourage conversation and have varied themes to help increase children's attention spans. Being multi-purpose and open-ended, parents can use them to involve siblings and friends of different ages to all play together, all whilst the kids add to their knowledge through play.
What’s been your biggest highlight whilst creating your brand? Why is it you love what you do?
The biggest highlight has got to be going live on TV with my real baby and my business baby and that too on BBC News at 6pm and at 10pm! The number of messages I have received that day from friends, family, customers, followers exclaiming joyously that they saw me on TV was just surreal!
It has also been a great year being awarded with 2 industry awards. Our Teddo Play Learning Products have been recognised as the 'Best in Children's Development Products' this year by the England Prestige Awards.
Keisha also received a fabulous personal recognition as being the 'Most Innovative Children's Product Brand Director (UK)' by the AI Influential Business Women Awards 2021.
And cherry on the cake was Teddo Play being selected by the renowned entrepreneur Theo Paphitis, from the Dragon's Den, as one of his small business winners earlier this summer!
Why we believe our Learning Products will play an integral role in early stage development how we are encouraging parents to integrate Teddo Play into their children’s play?
Personally, my teaching methods are very interactive and full of enthusiasm. I believe that when you create a memorable experience for children when teaching them anything at all, they are more likely to remember it, it helps create a powerful long-term memory in them.
I have myself designed every single one of our learning sets and made sure that each one will encourage many conversations, fun actions, noises, role-plays, memories, powerful discussions and of course all sorts of activities like identification, sorting, categorising, matching, stacking, you name it. When children will gain the required information on a subject covered in the themed learning sets, they will have a variety of experiences to relate this subject to. This, in turn, will help them to properly remember and retain the knowledge they have gained – all whilst having fun and without any undue pressure whatsoever on their brains.
I have always practised and preached teaching and learning through play. It helps create experiences for children which help them learn faster and better with lasting attention and memory.
Parental play and engagement are at the core of our products. We passionately encourage parents to get involved, to sit down with their children and talk, just simply talk. It helps children tremendously in their development. It also makes them much more loving and affectionate individuals in life, which is simply the most precious treasure every parent would like to cherish as they grow older. Our learning sets are all massive packs with numerous cards covering numerous themes and topics in each set. There’s so much to learn and with so many prompts, both parents and children will have a lot to talk about every time they sit down to play.
We have also very carefully thought out all our learning sets and portable educational boards to make sure they are suitable for children of all ages – from as young as infants & toddlers to pre-schoolers all the way to young teens and adolescents. They will also grow with children and can be used alongside siblings and children of different ages. Parents, family, teachers, carers will all have so many possibilities of adapting their lessons, games and activities to suit their child’s/children’s growth while still using the same set of learning cards for a long time. The very high quality of our UK-made products makes them very robust and durable and will ensure the longevity of these for years together – we don’t support the use-and-throw culture at all over here!
All of this will lay a solid foundation for our children, one that will make them naturally keen to learn more, to gain more knowledge and become self-driven. Instilling this natural desire to explore and learn in our children through our learning resources has always been our primary focus.
What start-up challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
With no background in running a business, it has been a steep learning curve. From endless hours of research and learning along the way, it takes a lot more time to establish yourself and then to scale. I have never shied away from putting in the work and despite all the hardships from being a first-time parent to starting a business alongside raising a toddler, the appreciation and positive feedback that I have received from teachers, childcare providers, home educators, parents and families has all really helped me to keep going. It has given me the confidence that I am moving in the right direction and my educational products are indeed making a significant contribution to children's intellectual growth and development.
Burnout is almost inevitable in an entrepreneur's life. You need to find your coping mechanisms. For me it's surrounding myself with like-minded people and most importantly, writing my thoughts down so I can tick things off the list. My brain's always in overdrive thinking about new learning themes I can develop to cater to different subject needs, what new marketing ideas I can implement, finding content for social media, newsletters, creating artwork, emails, admin, customer service, keeping on top of communication with existing and potential customers, reaching out to new retailers, educational institutions, filing taxes and returns; the list is endless.
Celebrating both small and big successes is not only important but really vital to keep your sanity and motivation levels up!
Knowing what you do now, what advice would you give to yourself when you were first starting out? (e.g. any struggles and how you overcame them)
Self-care and being in the present! I have always been such a hard-worker and although I'm happy with my success and achievements, I wish I had lightened up a little bit at the start and enjoyed some nights out with friends or simply just had some chilled time. I am always juggling a million things and it's just become my nature to continually make sure that my plate is not only full but overflowing. This does get overwhelming and a bit of self-care and downtime is frequently required.
My second tip is to love what you're doing and to not give up easily. Running a business is no mean feat. There are lots of ups and downs, twists and turns and an incredible amount of learning to do. It's even more challenging when you're balancing work life and bringing up a family. Having led a full-on corporate life for over 12 years, running a business was very new to me but I am very passionate about it all. I enjoy the adrenaline it gives me when I see our educational products making a significant difference in children's development and all the contributions we can make to our charity partner, Room to Read, for their mission to create a world free of illiteracy and gender inequality.
Being a mum to a pre-schooler alongside starting and running a business and standing true to our commitment to remain fully made in the UK; if I say life is hectic, that'd be a massive understatement! It's not healthy, sustainable or enjoyable to put your energy into anything and everything. Find out what's working for your business and don't compare as everyone's on their own unique journey.
Make lists, set time slots for dedicated activities and find the balance between the fun and the not-so-fun business tasks. Celebrate big and small wins and try and end your day with some relaxing music or a hobby. Life moves at a fast pace so take the time to be in the moment to appreciate the things and people you love and look after your health.
Can you tell us about your new collections/ranges that you’ll be launching at Top Drawer (include any events you’ll be arrange onsite if applicable)
We are very excited to be launching 4 new products - 2 new Learning Sets and 2 new Portable Educational Boards - at Top Drawer AW. It’s been a true labour of love creating everything in time for the show alongside entertaining, home-educating and raising our own 4yo!
‘Dinos – From Flesh to Bones’ & ‘Tickle My Brain – I can do it!’ are two of our new Learning Sets which have been in the making for a while but we’re so happy that we were able to ready these in time for TD.
Our two new Portable Educational Boards are Geography-based and cover two very important subjects of ‘Water Cycle’ & ‘Carbon Cycle’ and how we can play our part in building a sustainable future for our planet. These are both more of an eye-opener with the aim of providing children with facts and knowledge in order to help guide their efforts in the right direction to protect and nurture our beautiful planet.
For the duration of the show, we are also offering vouchers of up to £200 to new retailers and businesses we partner with. We are also offering a number of Multi-Bundles starter packs so our new retailers can have a variety of our products to test them out with their customers and audiences without having to worry about minimum quantities – there are no minimum order requirements for the entire duration of the show!
Any personal favourites from your new collection?
Can we say we love them all? :) All our Learning Sets and Portable Boards a real knowledge feast for both children and grown-ups and we very much hope that our new collection will be equally loved!