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Victoria Bloomfield and Caroline White

A dynamic duo from Cambourne have proved it’s good to talk, with their new children’s game causing debate…

 

Description: Victoria Bloomfield and Caroline White

The mums with the game and their children at Caroline’s home in Lower Cambourne. Hetty Bloomfield, Caroline White, Victoria Bloomfield, Rosie White, Poppy White Flo Bloomfield, Sam Bloomfield and Roman White.

With seven children between them, mums Victoria Bloomfield and Caroline White were always going to struggle to tempt their youngsters away from their favourite games consoles or saccharine sweet episodes of Glee. After all, in this digital age most children are surgically attached to their Wii controller, have their dinky DS’s stowed in their school bag and insist on daily Skype convos with school friends on their iPhones.

However, the inventive mums from Cambourne have found the perfect way to captivate their kids thanks to their innovative business idea – Chatterpots – a thought-provoking family game which sees their little ones shun Spongebob Squarepants in favour of a good old-fashioned debate.

Chatterpots consists of 225 conversation cards, each bearing a different question, from fun stuff like ‘What superpower would you have?’ to the more educational ‘If you were Prime Minister, what would you change?’ Housed in decorative vintage-style glass pots with tasteful ribbons and silver charms, they’re intended to look pretty on the dinner table or a windowsill, until they’re ready to be cracked open at meal times when children can enjoy chatting, debating, thinking and imagining.

“Children are so obsessed with screens these days that Caroline and I wanted to come up with something that would actually be able to hold their attention at a meal time – and not be a game that would go away in a cupboard and only get dragged out at Christmas,” explains Victoria, who has four children, Issy, 12, Sam, 10, Hetty, 7, and Flo, 6.

It was while on a trip to Spring Fair International at the NEC last year to buy supplies for Carolin’s then business – an online toy company – that the idea came to fruition. “A friend had lent me a home-made conversation starter game and the kids love it,” Victoria recalls. “As we were looking round the NEC, we couldn’t see anything like it, so that’s when Chatterpots came to mind. I remember the journey home from Birmingham being really exciting as we wrote down hundreds of ideas!”

With Victoria’s clan and Caroline’s three youngsters – Rosie, 11, Poppy, 9, and Roman, 7 – the mums had their perfect target market, using their children as guinea pigs for their probing questions. “The kids loved being involved,” enthuses Caroline. “We had notepads with us all the time, so we’d pick up the kids from one of their aftr-school clubs and try to think up questions on the way home. Then we’d get together, share and try the questions out on each other’s children. We soon found out which ones worked by their responses!”

As the summer holidays arrived, the enterprising friends had to put their business plans on hold, as they reverted back to full-time mum duties. But they had their regular dog walks around Cambourne with Caroline’s adorable chocolate brown poodle Barnaby and Victoria’s wire haired Hungarian Vizsla Bronte to brainstorm their next business move.

“It was a bit frustrating because we’d have all these amazing ideas out on our walks, then we’d get home and have to put them on hold while we made dinner or did the washing!” Caroline recalls.

But with the kids back at school in September, Caroline and Victoria were able to source the pots and get the questions printed – and Chatterpots launched in November. With Christmas around the corner the pair booked stalls at numerous festive fetes to see if their idea had legs. “We sold out of everything at our first fair,” Caroline says, “so we were quite lucky that we launched at the perfect time of year when people were looking for presents. It was very busy.”

As well as wowing at fetes, Chatterpots also took to the shelves of Elsworth Community Shop and have since been accepted at gift boutique Daisy Chain in Histon and Sterling Designs at Burwash Manor, Barton.

“Word is spreading and we’re getting calls from more and more parents wanting to buy Chatterpots to occupy their children,” Victoria smiles. “We’ve even had friends say they’ve played the game when they’ve had girlfriends round for a couple of G&Ts!”

Both families are also benefiting from the game – with their children much more likely to open up and chat freely at the dinner table. “My youngest, Roman, often has a friend round for dinner, who tends to be quite shy, but once we get the pots out they soon come out of their shell, which is lovely,”  Caroline says.

“I think, if anything, the game makes you really surprised by the insight of your children, which is lovely,” Victoria adds.

Both Caroline and Victoria have husbands with erratic jobs (Caroline’s other half Keven is a freelance director of photography, while Victoria’s beau James runs a telecoms business), so choosing a business to work around their childcare responsibilities was a challenge. But it seems Chatterpots is proving perfect.

“A normal job that involves working holidays would be so difficult, especially with childcare costs, so this has worked out perfectly, as we can pick up the business and slot it in between family responsibilities. We’ve already paid ourselves back our initial investment and made profit, with stock still to sell, so we’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far,” Caroline says.

With plans to expand into the wedding market and parties, there’s bound to be plenty of chatter around this business in years to come, which can only be a good thing.

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