After years of looking after other people’s businesses and their brands, a Blackpool man has become one of the town’s newest entrepreneurs after cooking up a creative play idea for young children.
James Rashid spent 20 years in the automotive industry and among his awards is the UK for customer service for the Mini brand in 2012.
He and partner Kate, who have two children, aged three and one, wanted something their children could do outside that was creative, safe and fun.
And after building a toy for creative and collaborative play for his own children, a mud kitchen, he realised it was good enough to found a business on and he consulted Blackpool Council’s Get Started team for advice for Mud Kitchens R Fun.
James said: “I’m not a joiner but I enjoy building and creating things.
“I designed and built my first mud kitchen out of pallets and the children had great fun playing with it. It’s rewarding creating something that you know will give children and adults lots of fun. I also like the idea of manufacturing something and hopefully as business picks up I can create some other models and accessories.
“The first hurdle was the safety standards for toys which was brand new to me. I had to send my prototype for testing which was worrying but when that passed it opened the door to creating a brand and website.” He said it appeals to parents since it encourages creative play, physical and mental and interpersonal skills.
He said: “It is about balance. My own children enjoy watching TV and using technology but you also want them to play outside and learn social skills. It is great because when they have finished, all the waste, mud and vegetable peelings just goes in the compost.
"Parents were my target audience initially, but schools reception classes, pre-schools and nurseries have taken them.” The kitchens are specially treated and sturdy to last outdoors but safe for children.
He added: “Blackpool Council’s Get Started scheme has been an invaluable support with both one to one help and courses on topics such as marketing and finance.”