You may have noticed some recurring themes in the stuff we give the old heart eyes to around here – stuff lovingly designed for families, that really knows what kids like and that is fun for the parents too. We also like companies run by mums and dads and hearing their tales of what got them started and how they manage the demands of managing those businesses and having a full home life (what can I say, we are nosy and we always looking for tips on that elusive work-life balance!). Our Kids Social, the “knees-up with your nippers”, certainly ticks all those boxes. We have to say the event coming up in September looks to be their best yet… read to the end to find out more.
We attended our first Our Kids Social almost a whole year ago now (if you have a look at the review you can see that we were so busy we barely took any pictures and the ones we did , well, they’re a bit blurred!). So we thought it was time to catch up with the ladies – Hannah, Alice and Jo – behind Our Kids Social and find out more about what they’ve been up to recently. They have certainly been busy, with successful socials at the Manchester Jazz Festival, the Let’s Glo Social at Z-arts and the Just So Festival (in fact I’m certain they were still in the process of washing off the festival mud while kindly answering our questions, that’s multitasking for you) and there is even more to come. So, Hannah, Jo and Alice, it’s over to you…
First of all, for anyone who hasn’t heard of Our Kids Social, can you just give us a little taster of what it is all about?
H – Our Kids Social is aimed at the under 8s and their families – events which provide something for everyone to enjoy as a family and centre around music, creativity, multi-sensory play and always a bar! An escape from soft play and somewhere for families and smile and laugh together.
A – OKS is an alternative way to spend time with your family and friends, a mash up of workshops, entertainment, creativity and play, a space to gather, natter, dance, laugh and let someone else tidy it all up at the end!
How did the three of you come up with the idea?
H – by chance we were on maternity leave together and looking for weekend activities we could do together and with our families. We wanted something that was based around our shared interests. After a lot of looking and a lot of talking, biscuits and cake, we decided to give it a go ourselves and OKS was born.
A – I’ve been daydreaming about something beyond my day job in primary education for a long time, Hannah and I have had many wine-fuelled chats about trying our hand at something different. So when Jo moved back up north and the babies came, wine was replaced with cups of tea and rice cakes but the fire in our bellies was still there – infact more so as we had time, each other’s ideas and drive to try something new. I love a good knees-up, the idea to provide a space for parents to do fun, engaging stuff with their kids really motivated me. I remember Jo just saying let’s just go for it and we just did!
What qualities do you find helpful in both motherhood and business?
H – patience, flexibility, good brew making!
A – Multitasking, communication, large amount of silliness
J – Military style organisation and keeping calm in the face of adversity!
What gave you the impetus/confidence (read: kick up the bum) to start your own business?
H – In all honesty, we couldn’t find what we were looking for. We wanted music we love but at a venue our kids could enjoy. We wanted to be able to have a pint but also spend some great, creative time with our families. We wanted to enjoy all the things we love but not just with our friends – with the kids too.
A – Each other’s giddiness! We were all so excited by it, we couldn’t sleep, our WhatsApp chat was going nuts. Encouragement from family and friends.
J – Switching from fulltime to freelance after having my little girl I needed another source of income that gave me flexible working hours, after some very excitable playdates/brainstorms and a review of what was currently on offer to us at the weekends Our Kids Social was born.
What are the benefits in working as a threesome?
H – We all have our own strengths from our backgrounds and interests, that really helps to share the workload.
A – Being in a positive team is crucial to my motivation so working with two of my best friends who I trust and who have a ‘can do’ attitude is a perfect environment for me.
J – OKS is something we love doing with our families so we are all very passionate and driven, I had no idea what an unstoppable force we would become once we put our three heads together!
In the last year you’ve really gone from strength to strength, doing an amazing variety of gigs. Can you pick out some highlights?
H – For me the highlight was when we tried out the UV light cannons at the day-Glo disco in Z-arts and everything worked and it just looked amazing! It was our biggest social yet and lots of aspects all came together on the morning. There was so much planning and making involved prior to the event, to see it all come together and the wonder on the faces of the children as they arrived was magical.
A – Fresh from the fields it’s got to be Just So Weekend, being part of something I’ve loved as a punter was fab.
J – Without a doubt our festival debuts, a tent full of arm-waving, silent discoers all shouting “ghostbusters!” at you…what’s not to love about that!?
What advice would you give to parents looking to take the leap and set up their own business?
H – Work out your finances. We were very fortunate in that we did not go into debt to start up OKS – we began on a shoestring of £900 which we put in ourselves. Being on top of budgeting and money, constantly considering what we have to spend (rather than what we would like to spend) has been crucial to staying in the black. This has relieved a lot of stress and allowed us to grow the business without the threat of debt, which was very important to us when we were all on mat leave.
A – Plan, set realistic achievements at the start, stick to your values personally and professionally, knowing when to step away from your phone and have a break is crucial (I’m terrible at this). Listen and reflect on feedback both negative and positive.
J – If you are planning to share the workload and set up with friends it’s important to factor in work-free time, enjoying life with our four girls and no work talk is hugely important.
What have you learnt about yourselves over the past 18 months?
H – I have learnt that organisation and time management is key to everything for me. Juggling family, work, OKS plus my own time for things I love only works with forward planning and a huge diary.
A – That I have a love/hate relationship with social media but I’m getting better at it!
J – That from a throwaway conversation combined with my natural parenting skills to multi task like no other, an exciting business can come to fruition.
What’s your favourite part of the social and why?
H – I have to be honest – I love a sneaky dance with Alice and Jo at the end – usually to Candi Staton. Also working with other groups and venues – getting others involved and learning about what they do has been great.
A – Chatting and getting to meet families at each event, I am a people person and I love that we now have regulars that come along, seeing their children grow a bit more each time and enjoy different parts of events is ace. Oh and seeing parents relax, sit down, dance or just chat to mates – parenthood goal!
J – Seeing families relaxing and having fun at our socials is what makes it all worthwhile, we have met so many lovely families and continue to collaborate with great local groups and like minded businesses, I love being part of a growing network of creative individuals and fun-seeking families.
You use silent disco at all of your events – how do you decide what’s on each channel and what is your personal top three?
H – It’s mainly stuff we love and advice from kids we know but we also regularly ask for requests. My top three – Candi Staton: You Got the Love, The Stone Roses: I Am The Resurrection, Katy Perry: Roar!
A – Ghost Busters is hilarious but I like the guilty pleasures like Dolly Parton 9 to 5 and Sweet Child of Mine.
And finally, what’s coming up next?
H – The Wonder Inn on the 10th September – Happy Sundaze. Last year we did this event at Islington Mill, and this year we are at The Wonder Inn – it is set to be a very special afternoon.
A – We’re looking at smaller pop-up events and collaborations to fill the gaps between the big socials.
Thank you so much Hannah, Alice and Jo! We think Happy Sundaze sounds amazing, we are especially excited for the Disco Mums, mud kitchens and the licensed bar (what a combo!) – for more of what you can expect check out the poster below. For further information click into the Our Kids Social site or you can book tickets here. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for our September round-up, coming soon, or have a look at our summer holiday round-ups for ideas for the coming weeks.