I don’t know about you, but this time of year always makes me nostalgic for my own childhood. The sun is shining and the long summer holidays are stretching out ahead of us. Weeks of playing outside come rain or shine, building dens, riding bikes and creating a world of adventure with my siblings and friends.
Looking back, I see how lucky I was to have a childhood with so much freedom to play, where our imaginations were filled with stories of pirates and tea parties rather than computer games and TV shows. I read recently that parents in the UK believe childhood to now be over by the time their kids reach 12 years old! What with children now spending more and more time on social media and You Tube marketing to them 24 hours a day, the pressure on them to grow up too quickly is enormous.
It’s when I hear reports like this that my passion for Belle and Boo and what we stand for, reignites again. When I came on board at the company, it was the innocence of Mandy’s illustrations and the world which she’d had created for Belle and Boo that caught my attention. The world was one where children’s imaginations were allowed to run riot, where friendships were forged and kindness was paramount – all values that at the time as a mother to two young girls, struck a chord as I was navigating my own way through motherhood, trying to recreate the freedom of my youth in a world which seemed to be constantly changing.
Now 10 years on, the speed of which the world of childhood is changing is even faster and my desire for Belle and Boo to remain a place where children can be children, is stronger than ever. I think if you were to ask any mother what they want more than anything, most would simply say “I want my kids to stay young for as long as possible,” – I know that’s how I feel. It’s this desire that inspires so much of what we continue to do at Belle and Boo.
In this era of unparalleled commercialism, with so many brands creating, TV shows, apps, theme parks and technology for kids, I’m proud that Belle and Boo is bucking the trend and standing for what were once timeless values, but which now seem to be on their way out. We work to inspire kids to spend time with parents, friends and family, creating crafts, playing games and baking cakes. These activities all seem like hard work in an age where it’s so easy to pass a child a tablet so they can entertain themselves for a few hours, but knowing that it is these moments of human connection that will last in the memories of our little ones for years to come, makes it worthwhile commitment.
With a spike in anxiety amongst modern children, and watching my two girls fast approaching their teenage years, I can’t help but believe that it’s human connection which will lead the way to getting our kids happy and healthy. Creating an environment filled with as much love and laughter as possible can only help them become the best versions of themselves and be comfortable enough to reach out to us as their parents when then need to confide.
It’s important for me that our stories and gifts also inspire children to get outside and interact with nature. Whether it’s encouraging meaningful relationships between children and animals, or inspiring kids to climb trees, jump in puddles or have teddy bear picnics outside, connecting our little ones to the outside world, especially in living situations where it might not be a part of their everyday lives, is something fundamental to the Belle and Boo narrative and something we’re so passionate about passing on to parents and children all around the world.
Our values are not only entwined the stories Belle and Boo tell and the products in which they feature, it’s also the philosophy by which we run the Belle and Boo business as a whole. We proudly work with a number of fantastic children’s and conservation charities including Rainbow Trust, Children in Need, The Grand Appeal for Bristol’s children’s hospital, and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Creating a world where children are allowed to be children, whatever their life’s circumstance is of the most utmost important to Belle and Boo; our company, our stories, our products. It might not be the most fashionable but to me and the rest of the team here it’s the most important gift we can try to give.
We’d love to know about what is it about Belle and Boo that appeals to you and the hopes and dreams you have for the childhood of your little ones. Please get in touch!