Reel Wood Designs: Interview with Kim Pascoe

Image credit: Reel Wood Designs

Reel Wood Designs are one of the latest additions to our wooden toy range here at Babipur. It is safe to say their amazingly creative open ended toys have been very well received by our community. We are delighted to share some insight into the magical world of Reel Wood. Huge thanks to Kim Pascoe to give up some of her time to interview for our blog.

Supporting small British businesses is at the heart of what we believe in here and Babipur. When you buy Reel Wood, you really are supporting a dream to come true.

What was the inspiration behind Reel Wood? Where did it all begin?

In March 2018 our son Ethan unfortunately passed away at 3 months old. From that moment on, both Jonathan and myself wanted a job that allowed us to work from home and be close to our children.

Jonathan had a passion for wood work and had been given an old saw that my grandfather had used which he quite quickly upgraded. He began making various little items for our daughter Evie to play with and brushing up on his skills. At Christmas time, Joni made some letters to spell out the dog names of family member’s as gifts. That is where it all began. 

How did you begin setting up your business?

We spent months researching products, legislation and experimenting with various woods, designs and finishes. We spent a lot of time speaking and getting advice from other businesses and small makers.

Image credit: Reel Wood Designs

Why is your business called Reel Wood?

We get asked this question a lot due to the spelling of “Reel”, some people mistake us for a fishing company. I can assure you that we have nothing to do with fishing! Our three children are called Evie Rae, Ethan Lewis and Eli Robert if you take their initials EREL and scramble them you get REEL.

Image credit: Reel Wood Designs

Do you have a background in woodwork?

I don’t really. My grandfather was a carpenter and he used to carve walking stick handles. I occasionally assisted with pyrography as a child, but career wise I worked within the health sector on an inpatient mental health ward.

Joni started woodworking as a child in school and with his uncle. However, this was a hobby that took a back seat when he began to follow his career in IT and Digital Forensics.

In what ways would you like to inspire future generations?

Our entire toy range is based around education and inspiring learning in a fun way. It’s so heartwarming when we get feedback from people who own our products. Saying that we have instilled an interest in space with their child or, that their child has learnt to spell their name by using our letters.

Thank you to our buddy Maria Craib for this lovely pic of her little one exploring the Reel Wood alphabet in the sunshine

How do you manage production? Do you have your own workshop?

We work from a small workshop that we have attached to our house. The majority of the design work is done by Joni. I suggest ideas, but he makes everything come to life. All of the skill in cutting is done by Joni on the saw. Then it’s over to me to do several stages of sanding, both by hand and machine. Finally each product is finished with a stage of hand sanding to round off all the edges. making them nice for small hands to hold.

Reel Wood Designs Shape Blocks Set

The sealing process takes several days due to the drying process. That is a joint effort along with the packaging. All the stamping of the bags is done by Joni who is left handed, which is why the drawstring is on the left hand side.

Social media is all done by myself with the occasional input from Joni if I need to talk like a pirate or yoda for a post! This is the same as any customer relations and business emails, they’re all mainly done by yours truly! Usually at extremely unsociable hours because our children don’t sleep…apparently especially during lockdown! 

Image credit: Reel Wood Designs

What is the biggest challenge of starting your own business?

Money was one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. Every penny you make has to go back into the business to upgrade tools, purchase stock, packaging, pay for testing and the list goes on. We’ve never spent so much money on cardboard in our lives haha!

Finding the legislation and getting our heads around all of it was a bit of a minefield however, Rebecca Black from Black’s Toys has helped us a great deal here.

Reel Wood Numbers with Coach House Ten Frames and Grimm’s Threading beads

Time was also a massive factor. You’d think working from home you have more time but that is definitely not the case when you have children! You end up working at ridiculous hours of the morning and running on next to no sleep. It’s all worthwhile eventually they say! We’ll tell you when we get there!

Reel Wood Lower case
alphabet with Coach House Number Board and Grimm’s Threading beads

What are you currently working on? Whats new?!

We’ve got a couple of little add ons coming to our space range which there has been sneak peeks on social media recently. Also an exciting exclusive new product coming to Babipur which some of you may have seen!

I have a list of things as long as my arm that I want to make however, finding time and what actually works is another story. That’s usually where Joni comes along and either says no or makes it happen somehow!

Reel Wood Planets with Grapat Mandala pieces and Coach House ten frames

Where would you like to see Reel Wood go in the future?

In the future it would be nice to have a little team of staff that assist with production. This would allow us to increase production rates and maybe give us a little bit of a holiday (wishful thinking I know)! We would still like to always keep a hands-on aspect within the business. There is something rewarding about seeing your product in other people’s homes and knowing that you helped make that.

How do you like to connect with other people in the toy industry?

As previously mentioned we developed a relationship with Rebecca Black from Black’s Toys very early on within the building of our business. That relationship actually stemmed from Rebecca and Eddie creating the Rainbow Urn for Ethan’s ashes which we will be eternally grateful for. This has since developed into a lovely supportive friendship.

Reel Wood letters with Black’s Toys Volcano and Grapat Seven Moons

We have also built friendships with other small makers on our journey such as Triclimb.

Image credit: Reel Wood Designs – love this beautiful picture of the Walnut Triclimb with green design

What would you like people to know most about Reel Wood?

As a business and as parents it’s important for us to be conscious of the environment and eliminate single use plastics and waste wherever possible.

Any “scraps” of wood are then taken to heat another person’s workshop and my parent’s house during the winter months.

Reel Wood Planet earth and lower case alphabet

Finally – tell us something interesting about yourself!

We tend not to lead very interesting lives these days! However, pre-children I used to be a costume character, dressing up as a giant green garden gnome and  dancing on a stage. For those of you who live in the North East and have attended the metro centre you will know what I mean! Joni used to  be a semi-professional aggressive inline skater. This meant he never actually got paid, just given lots of free merchandise to advertise companies during competitions. He wasn’t actually that bad at it either! Somewhere in the depths of the internet there are videos of both of us doing our thannnnng!

I think you can see how much fun Joni and Kim are!!

Shop Reel Wood at Babipur >HERE<

As always we love to see your beautiful pictures of our products in play! Tag @Babipur on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, or of course you can share pictures with the Babipur community in our Facebook group, Babipur Hangout! x

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