An enterprising family have applied their love of the outdoors to a new business venture to inspire new story and play adventures in the natural environment, with help from the North Tyneside Business Factory.
David Gray (36) from Forest Hall has developed a range of children’s books and games under the Little Wood Walkers brand after a dream to permanently relocate to Malaysia was halted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
David, along with wife Ruth and two young children returned from Malaysia in 2020 after giving up their jobs to spend two years living and working in the country. The family sold all of their possessions to realise their Malaysian dream and look for adventure in a foreign country before the Covid-19 pandemic forced their early return last year.
David comments: “Although our dream to live in Malaysia came to an end last year, we didn’t want to fall back into the 9-5 lifestyle that we had hoped for a break from. I am a surveyor by trade and my wife a teacher so before
returning to the UK, we brainstormed different ideas and businesses that balanced our current career with our passions and skill set.
“Little Wood Walkers was an immediate standout idea as it involved our shared love of the outdoors and entertaining our children with wholesome, traditional ideas to keep them away from screens and enjoying nature. Before we had even boarded the plane back to the UK we had written the basis for the current Little Wood Walkers range of books, ready to refine with more location-based detail on our return.”
The Little Wood Walkers books are specifically written to reflect locations well-known to local families, such as Plessey Woods or the Rising Sun, and offer different mapped routes through each location specific to the story.
David continues: “Our idea was always to allow the children to pick a story and then follow the path of that story in person and through the books. It’s totally immersive and exciting for the children to walk a well-known location and live out the storyline but more than anything, it helps to bring that little bit of excitement and wonderment to an everyday nature walk”
Little Wood Walkers has now expanded beyond the initial range of books to create challenge cards and scavenger hunts for children and adults to enjoy. Without set locations, the cards seek to create challenges and excitement in the natural environment with suggestions designed to get the whole family involved.
David continues: “The cards are so much fun for families and we’ve had great feedback from customers and stockists. Each card has challenges, such as walking as far possible with a leaf on your head, so they really encourage silliness and fun to encourage people to look beyond the path in front of them.”
Little Wood Walkers books and cards are now available to purchase online as well as stockists including For The Love of the North in Whitley Bay and The Sill in Hexham.
David worked with the team at the North Tyneside Business Factory to help bring Little Wood Walkers to life. The Business Factory is the business support programme from North Tyneside Council which is supported by the ERDF and delivered by TEDCO Business Support.
David continues: “We were really fortunate to work with business advisors Janice Ross and Lee Casey at the Business Factory to help get our ideas off the ground. We needed advice not only on the administration side of self-employment but also the sales and marketing aspect of getting our brand in front of as many customers as possible. Attending the free workshops and having them both at the end of the phone has just been invaluable to a start-up business like ourselves.”
Little Wood Walkers is now growing its retail and online stockist network as well as developing new products to add to the brand following excellent customer feedback on the initial range of books and cards.
Janice Ross, Business Advisor at North Tyneside Business Factory added: “David and Ruth have created a business rich in creativity and imagination that really appeals to families looking to add an extra dimension to their outdoor nature walks and activities. We are all looking to get outdoors more and Little Wood Walkers offers a genius way to encourage more wholesome interaction with the outdoors during our precious family time. It has been a pleasure working with David and Ruth to help realise this new business dream and I wish them the best of luck in the future.”
For more information on the services available through the North Tyneside Business Factory, please contact (0191) 605 3110 or visit www.businessfactorynt.co.uk