13 Aug 2020
We began the Little Button Diaries blog when we were both on maternity leave with our first children 7 years ago. We are both keen crafters and were looking for a way to make sure we actually finished craft projects with new babies around. With so many piles of half finished quilts, bibs, toys and failed good intentions, we decided a blog would motivate us to not forget about the things we love to do.
The things our kids consistently love are those projects that create the most mess! The ones that they can really get stuck into, like air dry clay, paper mache and junk modelling. We tend to tailor the makes to our kids’ favourite things (currently Harry Potter) and that keeps them really engaged. Our Horrible Craft book has proven to be really popular for this reason – so much goo and gunk, kids love it!
We think the first rule of crafting with kids is to make it achievable for them. We want them to take ownership of their projects rather than just watching grown ups doing the bulk of the work. With our book projects, we always test everything on our own kids (ranging from 1-8 years old) and if they don’t like it we don’t use it. We also consider what materials we use and tend to use ones you can grab from around the house. Kids have such great imaginations for turning trash into treasure!
When we started our blog and realised how much we loved creating craft projects for kids, we discussed where we wanted to take it in the long run. We both agreed that our ultimate goal was to write a craft book. So when GMC Publications got in touch with us about writing a series of publications you can imagine our reactions – we were very uncool about. Having now written 12 books, it’s something we’ve loved every second of.
We love creating dressing up pieces for kids and focus quite heavily on this theme. Our kids have been our guinea pigs for so many dressing up projects and they still love wearing them now! We love giving kids things to wear that unlock their imagination and can transport them to magical places in an instant! We try to include elements that kids can help along with, even if it’s just sitting on your knees whilst using the sewing machine.
When we first started our blog we agreed that we would only create things that we and our children actually wanted, needed or loved. We never wanted to make something just because it was on trend or because we wanted to showcase a particular product. That has probably helped us a lot, if we love it, the chances are other parents will, too. We also have a lot of craft fails, we never put anything up that hasn’t worked or that our kids got bored of!
For us, the main thing is that kids have fun whilst crafting. But making is great for sneaking in education without the kids even realising! For older children, we often adapt craft projects to things they are learning about in school, and for little ones helping them to use pencils, large sewing needles and scissors is a fantastic way to develop fine motor skills.
Inspiration regularly fails us! But when our minds go blank for ideas, our kids always have suggestions of things they want to make. These are often completely insane, such as the platypus playhouse project of our kids wanted to make the other day. We tend to tweak those ones a bit to be a little less niche! Aside from our children, we find ourselves spending many hours scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration.
We have noticed a big surge in kids crafting during the pandemic, and have seen so many fantastic, innovative and fun ideas popping up online over the last few months. The most popular projects we’ve done have been the ones which use household materials such as loo rolls or simple projects from our ‘Big Book of 100 Little Activities’.
The pros of working together as friends outweigh the cons so much. Having known each other for 20 years we each have a fairly good idea of how the other ticks, and we’ve come to find a really good balance of our different strengths. To work together was our absolute dream, and the fact that it is doing crafts just makes us very happy. The only drawback is that we get so obsessive talking about what we’re going to make next that we sometimes spend a whole day together and then realise we haven’t asked one another what we’ve been up to! We have to schedule in time where we aren’t allowed to discuss crafting, which is hard, given we are both so fond of it!
We’ve got lots of exciting things coming up. We’re just putting the final touches to our next two books which will be due out next year and we have lots of projects with Hobbycraft in the pipeline, who we work with on their super blog. Keep your eyes peeled!
GMC Publications Q+A
What qualities do you look for in craft projects for children that make for suitable book content?
“First and foremost the projects that we feature in all of our children’s craft books have to be fun! Children have to want to make them, so it’s vital that we ensure the projects are appealing and accessible for the target age group. Wherever possible we also try to make sure that projects don’t take too long to make, which helps keep young minds engaged. Ensuring that materials used to make projects are environmentally sound is also a key criteria for us. Where possible, we also try to highlight the links between our craft projects and how they relate to educational subjects.” – Jonathan Bailey, Publisher of GMC Publications and its two imprints Button Books and Ammonite Press
Has the demand for kids’ crafting books increased during the coronavirus lockdown?
“There has been a massive interest in craft books generally during lockdown, with a particular surge for craft and activity books for children. The Big Book of 100 Little Activities and The Big Book of 100 Outdoor Activities have proved hugely successful.” – Michael Robb, sales director of GMC Distribution
Has there been most interest in educational projects since schools in the UK closed?
“There has definitely been a big interest in educational titles, as many parents are undertaking home schooling for their children. The great thing about The Little Button Diaries craft titles is that they are educational, but are great fun for children at the same time.” – Michael Robb, sales director of GMC Distribution
Tell us about the figures/stats that explain the success of the various titles published by Laura Minter and Tia Williams. Why do you think they have been so popular?
“We estimate that we have sold an additional 3,000 copies of the two books mentioned above in the past three months. As mentioned earlier, this is because these books are educational and fun – but are also full of fairly easy, manageable projects that don’t take too long to achieve results.” – Michael Robb, sales director of GMC Distribution
How would you suggest retailers market these books to their customers over the next few months?
“As we enter the summer months, the need to keep children entertained will continue. All of the Little Button Diaries books are full of ideas that parents and teachers will find useful.” – Michael Robb, sales director of GMC Distribution