Tiny Land where 'candy shop meets art' in Crawley Down
After leaving her job to look after her children Christmas posed an interesting challenge for Alison White.
Keen to give gifts to her family and friends she decided to create her own.
“I just thought ‘what am I going to do for presents?’,” she recalls.
“I found a recipe for play dough on Pinterest and thought it looked great. I wanted something I could make in batches. At first I thought about crochet but that would have been too time intensive, so play dough was perfect as something I could make and then separate.”
That was Christmas 2016, from here the Tiny Land business grew as the play dough became more popular.
“I found the kids didn’t freak out when I was making things in the kitchen,” she explains.
“If I went to the toilet they cried but when I was in the kitchen I would make dinner and then put in some dough.
“I sold it on Facebook and made it in my little kitchen but then it got to the point where we were buttering our toast on our living room floor as the business had grown and grown.”
Alison and her family moved house, which meant a bigger kitchen for her to expand her range.
Creating natural, eco creative play and art supplies from food Alison has formulated her own paints as she found the recipes on Pinterest would go mouldy or fade in sunlight.
When she started the website sold a larger range including slime and bubble dough.
“There was so much on there as people could pick different colours and sizes but I have changed it now so it is more standard as it was becoming a little overwhelming,” she explains.
“I want people to look at the products and go ‘wow’.”
Now the range includes vegan crayons, wood stains, high end paints, play foam and play dough.
“I like to think of it as Lush meets Willy Wonka meets Disney,” she smiles.
“The salt dough is candy cane scented so when it bakes you can smell it.
“I also use essential oils for the lime and orange items or fruit extract for raspberry or blueberry items.
“It is a candy shop meets art.”
Alison doesn’t use chemicals in her items instead opting for food dyes.
“Children explore with their mouths so I wanted to create something they could put in their mouth safely rather than telling them to stop all the time,” she explains. “It is food grade play toys with natural preservatives.”
Before she had her two sons, Finley six and Noah four, Alison worked in project management IT development for financial services, a job she said was ‘very technical’.
“When I decided to look after my kids at home I wanted something to keep my brain working and Tiny Land does involve a lot of science which is great,” she says. The play dough will last and last but if you leave it out the pot for more than five hours it will start to dry out. “I am currently using plastic pots but researching into glass ones that are used for cosmetics so more durable as are made to withstand being dropped on a bathroom floor, it isn’t floor proof but it may help a bit,” she explains.
Alison now employs five mums who work part time for her.
“We are just so busy the orders are coming in quicker than we can make it,” she smiles.
“It is great and a really fun thing to do.”
Special offer for etc readers. Get 20 per cent discount at Tiny Land when you use the promo code ETC20 on the basket page.