I’m thrilled to be sharing this fabulous mini series with you. Each blog post will give you a behind the scenes insight into the life of a Mum that makes beautiful toys and/ or educational resources for little ones. Without further ado here’s the lovely Mum behind Our Sensory Shop.
Tell us a little about yourself and your family?
My name is Jordan, I am 28 years old. I am a foster carer with my husband. We currently have an eleven year old boy with additional needs living with us in our home in Essex, England. Before making I was a Special Needs Teacher, working mainly with children aged 3-19 with Autism and other Severe Learning disabilities.
Tell us a toy that best describes you and why?
If I were a toy I would be a cardboard box. You may think it’s boring, but I think it’s the best toy out there! I am adaptable and make fun from anything for anyone. I love working with all ages and abilities finding out what interests them and adapting to that.
What do you make and where did the idea come from?
I make story sacks and song choosing bags. As a Special Needs Teacher I used to make song bags and story sacks all of the time. I found it tricky to engage my sensory class in the topics, so I used to sing and play the curriculum instead. It captured their interests and attention. It is the only way kids learn.
When did it all begin and why?
I started making very recently (April 2018). I inherited money when my Grandad passed away and wanted to put it to good use to support parents and teachers caring for sensory children like the ones I love so dearly. I had recently stopped teaching to pursue Foster Care full time, so now found I had the time and energy to start my shop properly.
What does your day look like?
My first job is a Foster carer, so my day will look like any stay at home Mum’s for the most part. Except in my child-free time I design and make! It’s incredibly difficult to fit making around family life, especially as my Foster child never actually started school. It meant I put aside early mornings and evenings to complete my orders. I haven’t had to make too many compromises yet, as all of my products are made before I sell them in my shop. It is far more of a financial risk, but takes the looming deadline pressure off. They enter my shop when they are ready, regardless how long they take to make. If my foster child needs me, or if I need to go to training or if life gets too stressful to make, then I don’t.
What does your ‘office’ look like?
My office is my dining room table (and sometimes the car!). It’s where I design, buy, make and sell my products. I store all of my products in my husband’s office at home, much to his disliking!
What was the first product you ever made?
The first product I ever made is my beloved ice cream story sack. It was incredibly popular and gave me the confidence to carry on creating.
What’s your favourite make or best seller?
My favourite make so far has to be my nursery rhyme bag. The fabric was painted and the products were sewn by me. They have turned out amazing, I am incredibly proud when I see photos of children enjoying them.
What’s your design process and how long does it take you to make a finished product?
I release a new story sack every month to support our monthly themes on my Instagram feed. This means I am constantly designing and making. I get inspiration from the stories themselves and of course the sensory children I get to meet.
I have just started taking custom orders for communication boards and symbol keyrings.
The nursery rhyme bags take a very long time to make, from painting the initial designs to sewing them together can take weeks.
Your family is stranded on a desert island – what 3 toys must you take and why?
- Lego mini figures because I take them everywhere and they have saved us from so many sticky situations! Imaginative play is great when you have to wait somewhere!
- A bucket and spade, it might be an obvious one, but there is so much fun to be had on the beach with just this!
- A stick – great for imaginative play- but you could also write for help in the sand or even start a fire with them! (Is that cheating?)
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is the feedback I get from teachers and parents who have used my products successfully with their sensory kids. It makes everything worth it. Of course the flexibility is amazing when you have children too! I have to say I also do a little dance whenever anyone purchases anything – however small!
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging is when I make a loss. It’s incredibly frustrating, but comes with the territory of starting a small business. I am learning so much from my mistakes.
Who are your favourite Mummy Makers?
Gem from Little Button Co (@lbc.co) because her mini animals are incredibly cute, but more than that they are beautifully and meticulously designed.
Coral from Velveteen Babies (@velveteen_babies) because she not only make the most beautiful products and knows how to take a cracking interior shot, but she is so down to earth and is happy to help anyone.
Jill from Kids Knead Play (@kids.knead.play) because she makes incredible custom orders of playdough kits. Every single one I have purchased has been beautifully put together.
Mel from My Story Stones Rock (@my_story_stones_rock) because again she makes the most incredible custom orders and her stones really do bring learning to life.
What’s next for you?
At the beginning of every month we release a new story sack, and a nursery rhyme song bag in between each month.
Our September Story Sack of The Snail and The Whale is available now. Working on something exciting for October.
Where can we find you?
Other Instagram Accounts – @oursensorykids Personal Accounts @indigo_hart and @thehonestmothers
Where do you ship to?
We ship to the UK, worldwide and offer free collection locally. We also offer printables worldwide.
Copyright – All photographs in this post belong to Our Sensory Shop and kind permission has been granted for me to use these lovely images. Please contact Our Sensory Shop if you wish to use any images.
Disclaimer – Please do contact the seller or check out their sellers pages with regard to age appropriateness of toys and resources and any safety warnings. Busy Busy Learning accepts no responsibility for this. Age appropriateness and warnings can change with new legislation and when sellers make changes to their suppliers or products, so check every time.