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Carie runs Our Curious Panda - a business which provides art and creative resources for kids, starting with the launch of a kids' art magazine. Carie's Business Coach, Clare Braithwaite, caught up with her to talk about her business and the help she received from EnterprisingYou.

Tell us about your business, Carie.

I launched Our Curious Panda, a creative magazine for children 5+, in the Spring of 2022. I aim to get children thinking creatively as, sadly, they aren't being given the opportunity in school these days. They need outlets for their fabulous imaginations, so they often need help focusing as they are not doing one thing for long enough.

It’s essential for children’s mental health for them to have ways to express themselves. Drawing and making as a form of expression is a powerful outlet for them at this age.  My magazine has a gender-neutral focus, too; art is not all about pink and blue!

Lots of children’s magazines are packed full of ads. There are none in Our Curious Panda. It’s £5.50 per issue, so good value. Every issue has at least four creative makes, ideas for things to spot outside, stories, and so much more! It is environmentally friendly, and we make lots of things from recycling items. You don’t need lots of kit, just the basics.

There’s been great feedback from children using it so far. They love the puzzles and creative activities. It shows children they can work at their own level and produce amazing creations whilst being lots of fun.

Carie Barker

Carie Barker

How did you come up with the idea?

My background is in art and design. I've taught and worked with young people for many years teaching and was also the Education Manager at the Lowry. Over the past five years, I'd worked with museums, but with the pandemic, that had become increasingly tough.

I looked at my skills, a combination of art and education, and wanted to do something with those. Currently, in the UK, there are no creative magazines for kids that look at art and the outdoors and encourage curiosity. This was a significant gap in the market with the opportunity to plug it.

The aim was to launch a creative magazine for kids aged 5 -11 to help develop their inquisitive skills. The magazine would focus on not being too prescriptive in their artwork. My concept is about letting them develop ideas and have the freedom to explore. The magazine has characters that can spin off into books and other areas.

I was due to launch in July 2021, but due to Covid, this was delayed. The website then needed extra development, so Our Curious Panda launched in the Spring of 2022. I've had to learn to be patient and that these things take far longer than you think!

Why did you approach EnterprisingYou? What help were you looking for?

I came needing a broad range of help as I was brand new to this business area. Working with my business coach, Clare Braithwaite, on a wide range of areas highlighted some key skills gaps where I needed training. These included Marketing and Finance, and I completed courses in these areas. I feel so much more confident now.

How did you work with your business coach?

Clare has helped me develop my marketing strategy and launch plan for the magazine and supported me when there have been numerous delays. I worked with her on a plan which included exploiting social media and sharing on groups where my target market of mums is.

It’s given me confidence that my idea is good. And I’ve developed new skills to run my business.

What else have you got out of EnterprisingYou?

I have been a regular attendee of the EnterprisingYou's event, Have a Brew with EnterprisingYou - Women’s Coffee Mornings. These are run by Clare and Rebecca (Business Coaches) regularly and bring women business owners together in an informal way.

The guest speakers have been excellent, especially Brianna Harvey from Digital Flamingo, who talked about making the most of your social media. I'm still using her tips now. I’ve met so many people as business contacts and friends.

I used to hate networking, which was one of the things I worked on with Clare during the programme. I came to the women's coffee morning speed networking session, where we developed a 60-second pitch. We then practised it six times with different small groups, with time for feedback for everyone each round. By the end, I had greatly improved and feel more confident networking. 

EnterprisingYou is an incredible programme, so do sign up!

We provide fully funded support to the self-employed and gig economy workers across Greater Manchester. If you would like to find out more about EnterprisingYou, register online or email info@enterprising-you.co.uk

More information about the EnterprisingYou programme can be found here.