If you check out any of our social media accounts you’ll know we’re huge fan of Tiny Land products. My little one Floss has to be dairy and gluten free. Dairy isn’t such a problem when it comes to contamination, but with gluten, even a tiny amount seems to make her very poorly. Therefore, traditional playdough is a big no as it contains wheat, and therefore gluten.
There are some play groups that we can’t go to as playdough is used so much and gets on everything and makes her unwell. So, you may think these are products just for us allergy families, but I really wish everyone would consider the ingredients they use to ensure settings are as inclusive as possible. Tiny Land products are also suitable for vegans. Yes I’ve tried making my own, but sometimes I just don’t have the time and Tiny Land just make it so much better! It’s stunningly, vivid, smells divine and feels lovely on your hands.
Tiny Land don’t just make playdough, without further ado let me introduce you to the wonderful Mum behind Tiny Land who can tell you more.
Tell us a little about yourself and your family?
Hi I’m Alison. I’m based in the Sussex Countryside near the Ashdown Forest in the High Weald. I live with my husband (who also runs his own business), and our two lovely boys 5 and 3! Before Tiny Land I was a Senior Project Manager, designing the Project Methodology and establishing new processes.
Tell us a toy that best describes you and why?
Gosh, if I were a toy I think I’d be a Rubik’s Cube! I am obsessed with learning, and keep myself busy – my husband says I have many sides!
What do you make and where did the idea come from?
Scented Playdough, paints, crayons and more! All food grade and gluten-free! I started with Pinterest making things for my boys and then when I improved them I made them for friends and family as Christmas presents, then I turned it into a business!
I often explain that children use their mouths to explore and due to allergies being prevalent I made creative play materials that are allergy and taste friendly!
The Playdough took a long time to evolve to the amazing quality it is now – it doesn’t dry out when exposed to the air for hours!
When did it all begin and why?
I only started building my website in May last year (2017) and took my first sale when it went live in September 2017. I had to learn about the CE regulations, and insurance and a heck of a lot more! Once I felt comfortable I was doing it right, it was great! I designed my own logo, website and even designed and printed my own labels. It was only after I felt confident of consistent sales – and had saved enough from the profits – that I could afford to buy labels printed professionally.
All this meant a lot of lessons for me, but the biggest curve was understanding media marketing. I took an advanced diploma and that really made the business soar! All the while I had my youngest start 1 morning a week in nursery then 2. This meant only 8 hours a week production time so I stay up late at night instead. He will be doing 3 mornings soon.
What does your day look like?
Oh wow my boys wake up eaarrrly!! Regardless of when they go to sleep they are up between 5am and 6:30am. We have breakfast and if it’s a school day I’ll iron uniform and get everyone school ready and out of the door! If it’s a childcare/production day I’ll have 4 hours to make around 100 portions of playdough, or several litres of paint, or around 200 crayons!
Thankfully, I have a lovely friend who comes and does the playdough, but packaging and booking postage takes so much longer than I anticipated. Usually, I abandon my work half done to collect the boys, then sort them out before carrying on in the evening until late which includes finally being able to clean up! I’ll end up in bed around 1am to start the day again 4 hours later!!
What does your ‘office’ look like?
My kitchen is where I make all our products. My living room table is where most of the creating (making salt dough bugs or painting) happens, as well as packaging up which I tend to do while putting a movie on.
What was the first product you ever made?
My first doughs were dry and crumbly! And the photos I took were not great. I’ve since improved this a lot! Here is a planet Dough I did.
What’s your favourite make or best seller?
The playdough has taken a while to perfect, but I also mix and colour match my Wax Blocks to the Stokmar Blocks. This is because they are designed around Goethe’s colour theory (utilised in Waldorf schools but contain paraffin and beeswax). Amazingly, mine are as smooth as butter while offering vegan kids an alternative, that is plant based and food grade. They are organic based.
What’s your design process and how long does it take you to make a finished product?
I have a LOT of products in the pipeline but I’m too busy fulfilling current demand to progress them! I design mine from necessity really – I want vegan, safe and ethical for my children. I’m currently working on face paint, I’ve nearly finished designing mine but they need testing before being allowed on the market and that’s expensive.
It takes a long time – months – to make new products and then improve them when you’re busy making what you already have defined. It’s really exciting; I love the balance of the inventiveness and pleasing people.
Crayons take a lot of concentration to pour. They are made from Carnauba Wax which has a very high melt point and so you need to be quick but not spill any!
Your family is stranded on a desert island – what 3 toys must you take and why?
Open ended toys for sure! Tiny Land Play Dough as it can be anything a child needs, blocks/planks of wood and a car!
What is the best part of your job?
Being with the boys is the most important thing to me. That’s why I wait until they are in bed before working in the kitchen. And that freedom of working while they are asleep upstairs is a safe, secure, wonderful feeling.
I love inventing new products like my wood stain! That was a real moment, a breakthrough, as wood paints and stains are typically not toy friendly – these are food grade!! The buzz from that is amazing.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
When I feel overwhelmed by the amount I need to do or the amount of money I need to spend on materials and sometimes I’m not sure where it’s going to come from – the time or the finances!
I absolutely have to make sacrifices! Sometimes I have to tell the boys to leave me for a while so I can get on – when I’d rather be doing something with them.
Who are your favourite Mummies?
Patricia Fitzroy of @FairKindChild she has opened a physical shop in Horsham (as well as online). Having a physical shop is such a commitment because she can’t have her little one with her at all. She is growing her shop into a Community Hub where parents can go for support and advice as well.
Childcare Adventures who inspires and supports many mums – she’s an amazing and inspired Childminder.
Sarah O’Connell @BabyTodd and Beyond – an Annual baby show event with an inspiring group of mums who are running their own business. She’s a great ‘mum’ to us all.
What’s next for you?
I’ve spent the holidays looking at what people love, and have started to do playdough and saltdough kits. These, as well as the wood stains, are available from the 5th September (Pre-orders are being taken now). I have a waiting list for September already!! Christmas will be crazy. I’m also bringing out a better paint for older children.
Where can we find you?
You can find me on:
My Amazon, EBay and Etsy shops’ are being redesigned currently.
Where do you ship to?
Worldwide, although, I find some distant places tend to be rather expensive! I only charge what I am charged by our eco packaging and courier companies.
Copyright – All photographs in this post belong to Tiny Land and kind permission has been granted for me to use these lovely images. Please contact Tiny Land 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.