FANTASTIC FEMALE – CECILY HENDERSONCO-FOUNDER OF POMPOM
Running a business with 4 children under 4 is tough. Running it across an 8 hour time zone difference makes it tougher. And, along with the rest of the world, working through the juggle struggle of Covid-19 has made it toughest of all!
It is lovely to meet you – these days a virtual meeting is one and the same as in person – so I will assume you are settling in and getting comfortable!
I write as one half of PomPom, an online shop selling unusual and imaginative plastic-free designs for children. From presents to playroom ideas, from bamboo toothbrushes to biodegradable Lego, from chic rugs to climbing triangles.
I am in Vancouver, Canada – the Brit Abroad – and my business partner Katherine is in Essex, UK, which I am told is The Only Way to be when 4,673 miles apart!
We launched PomPom last October 2019 when the world was normal.
The idea for PomPom had come about a year before that. It was a true moment of clarity when I realised children are the tip of the iceberg of all that comes with them – clothes, toys, nappies – and there we were drowning in colourful plastic.
I had been adding to the world’s plastic problem and I didn’t know what to do about it. I was a first-time mum and overwhelmed. Sleep was more important than researching plastic-free alternatives.
BUT I slowly began to shop more consciously.
I swapped easy tips with my friend, and now co-founder, Katherine.
Our mum-mates started asking for advice on where to buy unusual and loveable alternatives that kids will actually play with again and again. They were too busy to look themselves and yet wanted to do the Right Thing! We knew we could help.
So PomPom was born!
Queue January 2020, my second son, Claude is born amidst the largest snowstorm Vancouver has seen for 20 years. We were the last family admitted before they closed for the night as the roads were too bad to allow any more nurses travel in to work.
Fast forward to March, Covid-19 hits. I may be on Mat Leave but with nurseries closed, Katherine is now a full-time mum again, so we needed each other. Both our husbands have “real jobs” i.e. they earn more than we do, so the only option was for us to be the primary care givers. Nap times are sacred. The evenings are a careful race between the bottle of white and emails, ideally the emails are finished before the bottle!
There is a lovely statistic at the moment, that over a third of all UK citizens chose to live a greener life in lockdown than they had before. Indeed, with the skies clear of airplanes, we have all noticed the bird song, the return of butterflies, swans in Venice, owls in central London. Katherine and I too took a hard look at our business and how we too an cut back yet further on our carbon footprint.
Unsurprisingly, we saw a spike in sales of our indoor climbing triangle. The climbing triangle has a wonderful history – the original design was created in the 1930’s by Hungarian paediatrician, Dr. Emmi Pikler who championed the freedom of movement for kids. The triangle enables children to safely explore their own physical limits.
Climbing supports child development; it increases strength, endurance and flexibility while encouraging patience, stamina, confidence and trust in themselves. It safely nurtures children’s innate need to push boundaries, both ours and their own, enabling that thrilling feeling of ‘risky play!’
However, our triangle is currently made in Eastern Europe. So through lockdown, we have learnt the rules and regulations of CE testing – that is the toy safety mark to you and 50 pages of red tape and bureaucracy to me! (It’s very much needed but it is just very daunting!) We have found a British carpenter. We have tweaked the design to make it the World’s First ….
However, our triangle was made in Eastern Europe. So through lockdown, we have learnt the rules and regulations of CE testing – that is the toy safety mark to you and 50 pages of red tape and bureaucracy to me! (It’s very much needed but it is just very daunting!) We have found a British carpenter. We have tweaked the design to make it the world’s first climbing triangle with 3 adjustable heights, reversible slide and ramp. Transforms a sitting room into a playroom and folds behind the sofa at night. Keep kids happily entertained for hours – bring on the fun of long cold winter afternoons!