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Local Flair Issue 25: BizzyBox

bizzybox mummyonmymind

Local Flair is back with another issue, and this time I have with me Shannon, owner of Bizzybox. A concept that brings you activity boxes for babies and toddlers designed to help reach developmental milestones through fun and interactive play. Read on to find out how this concept came to life earlier this year and what Shannon hopes to achieve with it. You can also read how Master Z got on with the Third Year Bizzybox, as well as sneak peak into the kind of activities these boxes contain, prices and a current not-to-be-missed holiday offer. P.S. Giveaway at the end of the post! bizzybox mummyonmymind

Tell me a little about yourself.

I’m a Canadian mom to a 3-year-old little girl, and have been living the expat life for eight years. My husband and I have called Aberdeen, Paris, Milan, Cape Town and now Dubai “home”, and my daughter can say she lived on three different continents before her third birthday. I’ve worked as a lawyer, charity fundraiser and legal English teacher, and was fortunate to be at home with my daughter full-time for the first years of her life. That time as a stay-at-home mom was where the idea for bizzybox took shape.

Tell me more about Bizzybox.  

Bizzybox are boxes of age-specific educational toys for babies and toddlers from birth to age three. It was launched very recently – June 2017! Each box has between 20-30 carefully selected toys/items and comes with a user guide for parents (or nannies, grandparents, etc). The guide discusses developmental milestones and outlines suggested learning activities for each item, ranging from easy to more challenging.

The inspiration for bizzybox came from my daily life as a mom and my struggle to know exactly what one is meant to do with a baby all day! I found that my daughter preferred simple toys that could be used in a variety of ways (building blocks, for example), and set out to find or make the fun things I would see at the many “mommy and me” classes we attended. I would search the internet for different activities to do at home with her that didn’t require too much preparation. We got in the habit of pulling out “the box” after my daughter’s afternoon nap every day and working on different skills.

Once I decided to pursue the idea of putting all these little items into one convenient box, the name was one of the first things I wanted to come up with. It took some time! The name comes from the concept of a “busy box” which is basically a DIY box of items parents make to keep kids busy. I loved the idea of changing the spelling to “bizzy” and knew right away I wanted to incorporate a bee in the logo. I worked on a few drafts of the logo with input from family and friends, then took my ideas to a local designer.

My amazing mother-in-law is a retired teacher who specialized in Early Childhood education, and the user manual was designed in collaboration with her. We spent hours and hours brainstorming different activities together!

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What’s the most rewarding part of your business so far?

Without a doubt it’s the lovely feedback I’ve received from moms! It makes my day to hear that someone is finding their box useful and that their child is enjoying the activities.

What’s been the most frustrating or challenging aspect of your business, and how have you overcome it?

For me the challenging part is finding time to be present with my daughter (who will always come first), while also providing great customer service. I want to reply to every inquiry immediately and be on top of everything, but to do so I think I’d need to clone myself ;). Until that technology exists, early mornings and late nights are how I manage. The struggle of working moms everywhere!

Where are the activities for the boxes sourced from?

It was a real labour of love finding and gathering all the different items! I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to include in each box, and some things were easier to find than others. I found many items in the UAE, some have been brought over from Canada, and some are actually home-made! For example my father-in-law made the wooden beads in the Second and Third Year boxes, and I make the lacing shapes, posting exercise cups and play dough.

bizzybox mummyonmymind

What makes Bizzybox so unique?

There are so many amazing activity boxes out there right now; it’s become a really popular concept. The monthly subscription boxes on the market are brilliant for older kids (they normally start from age 3+). Bizzybox is unique because we’re filling a niche for babies and toddlers, and giving parents not only an amazing box of toys but also a guide outlining tons of ideas about what to do with them. It’s like a Pinterest board in a box.

I was rather surprised at just how many activities are included in a single Bizzy Box, making it a very cost effective purchase. How many activities in total are in a single box, and what kind of time frame does a Bizzy Box keep the little one entertained for?

The number of activities varies from box to box. There are 20-30 items in each box and around 100 activities, give or take. I’m sure parents will come up with different activities on their own as well!

As for how long bizzybox will keep your little one entertained, it totally depends on the child (and how they’re feeling that day!) but when my daughter was around 15 months old we would pull out her box and do different activities for 45 minutes to an hour each day. Some days more, some days less of course. What worked for us was keeping it separate from the rest of her toys. It became a routine: she knew exactly where it was and would go and find it after her afternoon nap.

What’s your child’s favourite activity from the Bizzybox?

When my daughter was really small the posting exercises were her favourite, and sticking different items into play dough. It’s all about the simple things! One of the most challenging for her was screwing and unscrewing the nuts and bolts as that requires a surprising amount of coordination. It took her months, and when she finally mastered it we were both so proud. From the age of two she started loving the 9-piece puzzles. I would take them on airplane flights ALL the time and they would keep her busy for ages. Now she’s getting bigger and keeps asking when I’ll make her a new bizzybox, so stay tuned…

bizzybox mummyonmymind

Bizzybox prides itself on “developmental activities through fun and play”. How important is it to balance activities that are educational along with being entertaining, and how is this showcased in the Bizzy Boxes?

I truly believe these first few years should be full of play. Children will be in school for so many years, and need to spend these early ones using their imagination and being little. The emphasis should be on having fun. That said, there is absolutely a place for purposeful play – learning and developing skills while having fun. The goal of bizzybox is to help babies and toddlers learn in a relaxed environment. I hope the activities we’ve come up with are fun for both babies and their parents, because then everybody wins. Babies and toddlers love learning, and the obvious pride your child has when mastering a new skill is incredibly rewarding.  It’s important to keep it light hearted. If they’re not into an activity, move on and try it again in a few weeks!

Each Bizzybox activity comes with its own set of guidelines. Are the majority of the activities dedicated to be done with the parent, or are there any solo activities too?

Most are meant to be done with a parent, or at least under supervision, especially if your baby puts everything in his or her mouth (which most do!). That said, there are certainly ideas that can keep your child “bizzy” on his or her own. Lots of the activities would be perfect to buy you some time while preparing dinner or answering emails. Sit your child on the floor in the kitchen and give him or her a puzzle or sorting activity, for example.

bizzybox mummyonmymind

Tell me about a normal day in your life, as the owner of Bizzy Box?

I’m really trying to establish a routine and do a better job of organizing my time…it’s a work in progress! Every day begins with a strong coffee and hopefully some form of exercise once I drop my daughter off at school. Then it’s down to work. In an ideal world my work day would fit into the five hours my daughter is at nursery, but that is certainly not the case! I spend a lot of my day sending and responding to emails and messages, working on promoting bizzybox, and maintaining and updating all my spreadsheets. I try not to be glued to my phone in the afternoon when I’m with my daughter, which means lately I’ve been working after she goes to bed.

What advice would you give to other mothers looking to start up their own business in the UAE?

I would say to do as much networking and talking to other people as you can. Take every opportunity to ask questions from people who have done it before you. So far I’ve found everyone I meet at markets or events to be incredibly generous with their time, ideas and experiences. I hope to pay this kindness forward one day! In general I think the UAE is a great place to start a business…especially one related to children since there are so many young families here.

Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?

I would love to have even more product lines on offer. I already have some ideas, such as a box for older kids (based on requests I’ve received), and a few more I’ll keep to myself for now ;). I feel very lucky to be running this business and am excited to see where it goes!

Mummy On My Mind’s Review…

Shannon was kind enough to send Master Z a Third year Bizzybox (as pictured below)to review, and the excitement on his face as he opened the box said it all. For me, as I sifted through the different activities and objects inside at my first look, I was shocked to see how many were in there, making it a very much cost effective product in my opinion. The box, that also conveniently has wheels at the bottom, comes with a laminated Guide Book. This guide book is great at not only explaining how each activity will help develop different skills in your child, but also suggesting different ways a single activity can be played to achieve different goals.

Master Z was eager to dig in straight away, and of course he picked the colourful lego-style blocks with which he began to get creative. The play dough was another huge hit, and he began to role play a chef and roll playdough “meatballs” for me to “eat”. Over the next few days, we have been exploring more and more of the activities, using the same products in different creative ways, and then storing it all back inside this little learning box. Shannon has basically done the hard work for parents who do not have time to daily scroll through Pinterest, looking for ideas and suggestions of what creative play to do with their kids that day, making sure they are engaged as well as learn a new skill at the same time.

Having a teaching background myself, and my mother also currently teaching in a primary school back in the UK, I know the importance of developing social and motor skills at a young age. My mother has in fact sent me a teacher guide book detailing activities to be done to develop young minds, so the Bizzybox guide book was a familiar sight, and I know she would give this Bizzybox a her seal of teacher approval for sure. I really like the idea of having this set of developmental activities all in one place, away from his heaps of toy cars and trucks, and his level of excitement as he accomplishes a task is what makes it all the more worthwhile.

bizzybox mummyonmymind

Need to know Information about the Bizzybox…

Bizzybox is currently offering an amazing holiday promotion which is on until 1st January, and prices are:

First Year Box: AED 199 (regular AED 249)

Second Year Box: AED 249 (regular AED 299)

Third Year Box: AED 249 (regular AED 299)

To get your hands on your very own Bizzybox (did I mention the boxes have wheels too!), place your order through LittleMajlis (www.bizzyboxshop.com), or you may contact Shannon directly through social media or email: shannon@bizzyboxshop.com. You can also keep up to date with news of upcoming markets, offers and more by following Bizzybox on Instagram.

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🎉 Giveaway Time! 🎉 **GIVEAWAY CLOSED** . Mummy On My Mind is teaming up with @bizzyboxshop to offer you a chance to win a Bizzybox of your choice, containing 20-30 developmental activities that are entertaining at the same time. Master Z has been loving his Bizzybox and you can read more about our thoughts, as well as my interview with the lovely owner, Shannon,over on the blog now (Link in Bio)! Price details as well as news of an amazing Holiday offer can be found in the blog post too!. . To enter to win, all you have to do is: . 1. Follow @bizzyboxshop on Instagram. . 2. Follow @mummyonmymind on Instagram and stay up to date on MummyOnMyMind’s Facebook Page. . 3. Like this photo and comment with the hashtag #BBGiveaway. . 4. Tag 5 friends that would like a Bizzybox below. (The more you tag, the more chance you have of winning. You do not need to repost, but it will increase chances of winning.) . Winner will be announced on Saturday 30th December. All the best! Open to UAE residents only. . #bizzybox #bizzyboxshop #toddler #baby #activity #activitybox #supportlocal #localbusiness #dubaibabies #dubaimums #dubaimoms #giveaway #competition #contest #win #windubai #dubaicontest #mydubai #dubaiinstagram #igersdubai #instadubai #mummyblogger #dubaiblogger #mummyblog #dubaiblog #uaeblog #dubaimummy . This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administrated by or associated with Instagram.

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Giveaway! 

Bizzybox and Mummy On My Mind are holding a giveaway for your chance to win a box of your choice! The giveaway will run from 23rd December to 30th December. All you have to do is:

  • Follow mummyonmymind and bizzyboxshop on Instagram
  • Like and comment on the photo of the Bizzybox giveaway with the hashtag #BBgiveaway
  • Tag 5 of your friends who would be interested in the comments section of the photo.

Please Note: This giveaway is open to UAE residents only.

Thank you Shannon for giving us a deeper insight into Bizzybox and how it all came about. I am very excited to see Bizzybox take wing and would highly recommend it to parents of little ones. Make sure to order your Bizzybox whilst the holiday offer lasts!

Note: All photographs in this post belong to Bizzybox and have been used by the owner’s permission.

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