A grand day out

lagoon

Yesterday one half of Mimi and Will went to the grand opening day of The Helix, a new purpose built park in central Scotland.  With art and music installations, live performance, canoeing and acres of lovely walks, there’s something for everyone, and fortunately we were treated to lovely weather, too.

The Helix

Plan your visit, learn about forthcoming events and find out more at the official website, or on their facebook page.

Reading, writing, and the rest

Here’s a round up of a tiny handful of our favourite things to do and read… on paper.

First up is one of our favourite magazines for children, Anorak.  Founded in 2006, it describes itself as “all about a child’s world from fashion to stories, culture to science and sport to food”.  We love reading about all those things, and the bright colours and clear layout of the magazine always make us happy, as does the smell of the real paper and ink they use.  We’re suckers for a good theme, and the latest issue is all about games, just the thing for getting outside in the sunshine, or getting together as the nights draw in.

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Of course, Anorak has online content, too, and we really enjoyed their latest blog post about screenprinting.  But we would say that, wouldn’t we?

A favourite bedtime story in our house right now concerns a forgetful robot named Bernard, who leaves his bottom behind on a swing in the park.  I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, but let’s just say it involves seafaring rabbits and a trip back to the swings.  What’s not to like?

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By Sue Hendra, it’s available in both hardback and softback.

Speaking of Robots, we just found this adorable set of activity books that’s bound to keep children amused for hours.  Culture of Beauty is an Etsy seller based in London, and has a gorgeous shop of crisp fresh paper good and stunningly understated baby quilts.  This sounds like an unusual combination, but click through to check out the shop, you won’t be disappointed.

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For mum and dad older children, show them what they missed by not growing up in the 80s, when digital was something to do with watches and your music may or may not have skipped when you were jogging.  Mel Simone Elliott, superstar illustrator best known for her cultural icon colouring books, has created a 52- project bumper book of activities that both reference and recreate the film, music, tv and trends of the 1980s.  Oh, and there are free downloads for colouring in on her website, too.

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So that’s our little round up of things to read and do, but we’re always ready to find more – share your favourites in the comments box below.

Sunday night school picks

Here are some products from independent maker/sellers guaranteed to send your little one off to school with a smile.

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First up, here’s the lovely Circus Lion crayon roll.  Until 10pm tonight there’s an extra 20% off the entire range of crayon rolls over at Claire Payne Handmade, via Etsy.

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These amazing bottles from Chilly’s keep your cold drinks cold and your hot drinks hot.  Perfect for keeping your water nice and cool for a full day of school.  That rhymes!  Chilly’s are fellow crowdfunders on IndieGoGo, you can help them reach their goal by buying a bottle here.

From Leeds, via Etsy, this notebook by Stephsayshello is useful for so much more than taking classroom notes.  But that would be a good place to start.

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And if you’ve got a notebook, you need something to write in it with. What about these personalised colouring pencils, from Able Labels on Not on the High Street?

personalised pencils by Able Labels
What’s your schoolday must have?

So this IndieGoGo site, what’s that all about?

So crowdfunding… what’s all that about then? Here at Mimi and Will, we know that a lot of you reading this will be well aware of what it is, how it works and have opinions on whether or not Zach Braff was right to use it.

But we know from extensive market research that we’ve been doing over the last few days (or, talking to our families, as it’s often called) that some people aren’t that familiar with crowdfunding, and are wondering why we are doing it this way.

So, we’re going to take a couple of minutes to talk to you about crowdfunding.  It’s a new way of raising capital for businesses who might not have access to other, more traditional funding streams, like loans, credit or shareholders/independent backers.  Although the main websites for crowdfunding have only been going for a short while, it’s a process that’s really taken off, and there’s a whole community of people out there who regularly support new businesses, get access to exciting new products before they hit other outlets, or help people to raise money to achieve personal or family goals – it’s not just all about business.   Some of the other sites include Kickstarter, Bloom and Gofundme.  We chose IndieGoGo because it gave us the choice to honour our customers’ orders even if we don’t reach our £2000 funding goal, which is super-important to us.

Everyone who buys a t-shirt via our IndieGoGo campaign will definitely receive a t-shirt, by December of this year.  We’re asking people to invest in us upfront by buying our product at the price we’ll be selling it for, or if you buy more than one, with a bit of a discount thrown in because you’ll save us on packaging and postage costs with a multiple purchase.

Here are some simple steps for visiting our IndieGoGo page and making a purchase.  Firstly click on this link

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You can see our colouring book and t-shirt bundles, and their prices, along the right hand side of the screen.

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If you want to see more close up pictures of our t-shirts, click on the tab at the top which says ‘gallery’.

There are some more pictures behind the ‘updates’ tab, too.  Or you can watch our video.

Once you’re happy with the product and you’ve decided you want to buy, go back to the main page and click on the big red contribute button.  Remember, you choose which t-shirt you want, and the size, at the end of our pre-order campaign, in October.  We’ll write to you with all the options on an order form then – our t-shirts come in 6 sizes from age 2-12, and we are adding more t-shirts as time goes on – so you don’t need to chose just yet.

You’ll see a screen like this, and you can scroll down to click on the item you want to buy.

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Once you’ve clicked on the item you want to buy, IndieGoGo will help you through the payment process.  It’s really straightforward, even if you’ve never shopped online before.  We don’t get to see any of your financial details, or even your address, that’s taken care of by IndieGoGo and PayPal.

If you’re thinking that all sounds really complicated, and why can’t you just go and buy one from an online shop, well that’s a really good question.  It costs us nearly £500 to create one of our t-shirt designs in all available sizes – this is why you can’t often buy children’s t-shirts from individual independent designers, unless they are set up for printing by hand on demand.  By working in a pre-order system, we can better assess which sizes are popular with customers and place our orders with our printer accordingly.  This means we can bring our customers well-designed, well-made t-shirts with a minimum of waste, printed traditionally by a fellow independent business.

Those readers interested in new tech developments will be interested to know that pre-order platforms are springing up in America as demand grows from designers and consumers to work more often in this way – by only making what is required, it means production can stay local as well as design.  Unfortunately there are no internationally-based, well-established pre-order platforms open to the UK yet… this is something we’d love to see in the future.

But in the meantime, find us here: http://igg.me/at/mimiandwill/x/3097542 and don’t forget to share our link!

One Week In

Well, we’re one week into our Indiegogo campaign. Thanks so much to everyone for all their support. Not just to the people who’ve contributed financially (although you are AWESOME and we hope you love your t-shirts when you get them) but also to the people who’ve liked our Facebook page, followed us on twitter, visited the campaign page and liked and shared our posts.  That’s really helpful in terms of getting the word out there.

We were also thrilled to get a postive comment on Vimeo from the composer of the music we used for our promotional film; the soundtrack, which we used under Creative Commons, is a track called ‘kindergarten’ by an artist called Gurdonark.

It’s been quite a week! Let’s see what next week brings!

Inside the virtual dressing up chest

My favourite kind of party is a fancy dress party, and my favourite tv show as a kid was Mr Ben.  So it’s no surprise that I’m super-envious of the costumes children nowadays get to wear on just about any occasion.

This dino hat, by Elf and Munchkin, would go brilliantly with our Supersaurus t-shirt.  It’s available in a range of sizes, and custom colourways are available on request.

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If you want this next one, you have to be quick!  It’s reduced to clear at Lupin Handmade, via Etsy and there are only 2 left.  We have Lupin’s fox and panda masks and they’re a huge hit at dressing up time.

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We find ourselves back at Supersaurus again – with this fantastic cape from I Wish I Was, perfect for little superheroes.

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And these raccoon dungarees by WildThings are described for boys, but I know at least one toddler girl who would love a pair…  Our Treehouse t-shirt by Jolly and Hodie would look fantastic against the grey of the dungarees!

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So that rounds up a selection of accessories and outfits for parties or for playing, all handmade in the UK by independent sellers.

What your pre-order means to us

In short, everything.  It means you love our product, what we stand for and you want us to be able to develop and grow as a business.

But let’s break it down a little more.  If our pre-order funds reach £500, which means selling 25 t-shirts, you’ll help us to grow our collection by being able to make samples of another 5 t-shirts.

By selling 50 t-shirts, or 40 t-shirts and 30-something colouring books, we can start to fulfil some of the requests we’ve had for stock from local independent retailers who want to sell our shirts in their shops.

If we raise £2000 from pre-orders, and meet our Indiegogo goal, we can start to think ahead to future collections, to look for t-shirts which continue to fit our ethical and eco criteria, but in a wider range of colours and offering options like long sleeves, or vests, or maybe sweatshirts.

If we exceed our target, and sell more than 100 shirts in the next 34 days, we can really start to grow our business, to work on our website, to advertise our work more widely to attract new retail stockists and new direct customers alike, and to hold a stock of our t-shirts ready to ship on demand.

Best of all, no matter how many t-shirts we sell between now and mid-October, everyone who makes a purchase will receive their choice of t-shirt in time for Christmas.  Our Indiegogo campaign means that even if we don’t reach our £2000 target, we’ll still honour all the orders for t-shirts from this first collection.  And we’ll continue to promote and develop our range of designs into 2014.