“I’d be lost without it.” An amazing accolade from Joe Wicks for The playHOORAY! Handbook, the debut book from Claire Russell, a mum-of-two and founder of the playHOORAY! community, which provides busy parents with endless ideas to keep their children entertained. And it’s one Claire never could have imagined when she started her business. “Oh my goodness, what a dream come true! Who doesn’t love Joe, he’s amazing! I love his passion and energy, plus being a family man, I was honoured he liked my book!” she tells Keeping Mum.
playHOORAY! was started six years ago when Claire was a first-time mum to her son Mason. It has since gone from strength-to-strength, offering a wide range of products including her original playPROMPTS, journals and calendars, an app with 100 play ideas, and her aforementioned book, The playHOORAY Handbook. She has also since welcomed another addition to her family; son Leo, who was born in 2020.
We caught up with Claire to discover her secret to launching a successful business and her proudest achievements to date. To say we’re inspired would be an understatement!
I was inspired to start my business because… I had left teaching after having my baby, but planned to return once my baby was older. I never planned to start a business! I was a tired first-time mum and simply loved sharing on social media how I was stimulating my baby at home with simple activities. The community grew and it’s been the best thing ever! I absolutely love what I do!
A typical day looks like... I have a six-year-old and seven-month-old baby so after we’ve done the school run in the morning, I like to head out and get some fresh air, whether it’s a short walk or wander around the shops. Nothing special, just a change of scenery can be really energising for me. Then we come home for precious nap time and that’s when I usually work. We spend our days at home or in the garden playing and then after school pick up, dinner, bath time and bed, I start working again!
My proudest achievement so far... was publishing my first book, The playHOORAY! Handbook. I had always wanted to write a book but never actually thought I would or could! I signed my book deal on the first day of the first lockdown, and despite having an energetic six-year-old at home and being pregnant, I had ten days to write a book! I still look back and wonder how I did it.
The playHOORAY! Handbook, £10, Amazon
The best thing about being an entrepreneur is… I am passionate about play and young child development and have always been a creative person so I love that part, but also the fact I have been able to grow a business around my family and still make special memories with them whilst I work.
Before starting my business I… was an Early Years teacher in a large primary school in Bristol working with children and families from aged four to seven-year-olds.
My number one piece of advice for fellow mums hoping to start a business is… be prepared to be committed to your work. It needs to be something you are passionate about, you’re going to be living and breathing it so make sure it’s something that energises you, especially on those days you’re exhausted from being a mum. But at the same time, it’s important that you do give yourself chance to rest. It’s a balancing act!
My biggest challenge has been… growing and the upkeep of the business. It’s hard work, constantly learning and teaching myself new skills all whilst juggling a young family.
One thing I wish I’d known before starting a business is… I was very naive when I started my business, and like I said, it was never the plan. I think actually my naivety worked in my favour otherwise I’m not sure I would ever have launched! It’s a rollercoaster of emotions and having a supportive husband and family really makes a difference.
What I’m working on next… I have a few projects going on in the background at the moment. My creative brain is always working on new ideas and I often have several on the go at once. I’m hoping to launch some new branches to the playHOORAY! business in the next few months, fingers crossed!
My dream for the future is… I would absolutely love to continue what I am doing and spread the word about play to help even more families. And I hope my boys always know that Mummy tried her best!
Have you launched your own business or is there an entrepreneur you’d love us to feature? Contact us with your suggestions.