Meet Sophia of Munchy Play®
Munchy Play® is a family-run business based in London. Launched in July 2020, it designed and founded the first-ever kids’ plate featuring a built-in track for play. There are three designs in the range, including a car, train and tea party plate. Helping to solve mealtime struggles, its mission is to make life easier, or just more fun. It was founded by mum and entrepreneur, Sophia Procter, who came up with the idea while trying to bring her fussy eater toddler to the table. The range is proudly made in the UK and available on Amazon and www.munchyplay.com. The business has received an Honorary Award by the Global Women in Innovation Network, and was named one of the most ‘promising start-ups of 2021’ in The Sunday Times.
1.Can you explain to us how the idea for your business came to you and how the whole process kicked off?
I had recently returned from maternity leave, when I was facing redundancy. At the very same time, I stumbled across an idea for the first kids’ plate with a built-in track for playing with toy trains and cars. My son, (then two) was a notoriously fussy eater and wouldn’t come to the table, let alone sit still and eat. Looking for inspiration to lure him over, I reached out for his favourite toy train and fashioned a track around his plate. In that moment everything changed. He sat down, played with his toy and started to eat. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing, and knew I was onto something.
I decided to opt for redundancy and invested every single penny in bringing the idea to life. This started with researching the market, finding the right suppliers – and perhaps most important of all – protecting my intellectual property through design rights and trade mark.
2.What were the biggest challenges you faced when bringing the idea to market?
Every step of the process was fraught with challenges and problem solving, even to this day . Creating a blueprint for an entirely new product, means that there will be lots of trials, research and testing involved. It took me three years to bring Munchy Play to market, which was a lot longer than I ever anticipated. I had to change my mindset and realise that many things were out of my control and it would take as long as it would take.
One of the biggest challenges I faced, which I’m sure other SMEs can relate to, is knowing where to find a manufacturer. One of our key principles was to make this product in the UK, so I went to the British Plastic Federation and attended trade shows until I found the right team to work with.
3.Where do you think good ideas come from and what inspires you?
Creativity comes from looking at new ways to solve problems. There are so many daily issues you encounter as a parent, from fussy eating to sleep training, it’s no wonder that so many parents come up with great ideas. My product, for instance helps to solve mealtime struggles – a direct result of having a fussy eater toddler. I’m inspired by popular culture, as well as parents and foodies on Instagram – I think social media is a hot bed of creativity.
I also really enjoy brand collaborations like the new Adidas and Lego trainers and am constantly inspired by businesses that dare to push the boundaries and try something new.
4.What are your company’s values and why are these things important to the business?
Simply put, our mission is to make life easier or just more fun for families. This is underpinned by great British design and a premium product that uses sustainable and durable materials. We avoid single-use plastic and both our product and packaging is toxic-free and recyclable. Plus, our plates are manufactured in the UK as a hallmark of trusted quality.
We might be a small business, but we have the opportunity to do things the right way.
If these values and ethics matter to me as a mother, they probably do to other parents too.
5.What is next for your brand?
We are constantly listening to our customers and reviewing market trends to see what more we can be doing. We have a really exciting collaboration and new collection coming soon, that I cannot wait to share with you! We will be announcing this on our Instagram page in the coming weeks, so follow us @munchyplay to be the first to know…
6.What one piece of advice would you have for someone just starting out on their business journey or currently going through a setback?
Ah yes, I know that feeling well. Unfortunately, there are many challenges and hurdles to overcome when you run your own business, Seth Godin describes this as ‘the dip’ in the early days, and once you know about it, you’re better able to navigate it.
But, the one piece of advice I would say is to know your purpose and be driven by your passion. Holly Tucker is one of my favourite business leaders who talks about this all the time. It really means understanding what it is that drives or underpins your business, other than the product or service that you offer. For instance, our purpose is bring fun to mealtimes and give parents five minutes of peace. Sure, we make plates – but really, we’re about making life that bit easier for everyone.
7.What resources and tools do you use to remain productive or up-to-date on industry trends etc?
When I launched Munchy Play I was invited to join the Amazon Accelerator Programme with Enterprise Nation. This has proven to be such a valuable resource. The ‘lunch and learn’ sessions are perfect for learning something new, while their webinars have been the perfect training ground for getting to grips with being a small business owner. I can’t recommend it enough to other start-ups.
I also subscribe to industry newsletters, read trend reports, and follow business leaders like; Theo Paphitis, Emma Jones MBE, Holly Tucker and Simon Squibb.
But, most important of all, I engage with our audience on social media, it’s one of the most enjoyable parts of the job too!
More info on Munchy Play®
Brand Name: Munchy Play®
LinkedIn handle: https://www.linkedin.com/company/66200423
Twitter handle: @munchyplay
Facebook handle: @munchyplay
Instagram handle: @munchyplay