“Colouring is so much more than a fun activity. It encourages child development.”

Founder of The Little Crayon Company, Karla-Jayne Murdock wears a lot of hats.

Product Developer, Crayon Maker, Packaging Department, Social Media Manager, Sales, part-time Home Economics & Child Development Teacher and the most important one, and the driving force behind the creation of the business, Beauden, Karla’s son.

Karla decided to purchase a set of crayons to encourage Beauden to enhance his fine motor skills, however, soon realised that there weren’t many options to choose from in order to let his imagination flow.

Karla felt that she could create her own, unique, custom-made crayons that would be specifically designed for little hands and encourage little minds to grow, or as Karla notes: “The perfect gift for the special little person.”

Having studied A-Level Home Economics, graduated from Ulster University with a first-class honour’s degree in Consumer Management and Food Innovation, completed a PGCE in Home Economics and years of teaching in H.E and Child Development, Karla perfectly understood the needs of growing children.

She knew she wanted to create shapes and colours that would inspire learning and creativity, that would aid brain development and improve memory, that could be used to express feelings, and which could help with sensory issues.

Developing the idea, Karla researched different moulds and colours, experimenting with temperatures and pouring techniques to create a first batch for Easter gifts. These proved extremely popular which spurred on Karla’s ambition.

Having been encouraged by a friend to try the Exploring Enterprise Programme Karla got in touch to arrange a meeting but ended up enrolling onto the programme.

“I didn’t really have any expectations about what would be involved. I wanted to go with an open mind and hope that by attending, I would be able to network with other small business start-ups and gain some tips and advice on how to successfully run a small business alongside teaching part-time.

“I found the EEP very informative, especially with guest speakers coming in each week to share their experiences and hear how successful they have been upon completing the programme.

“Being able to interact with others in the group was invaluable. Often, ideas were shared that you would never think of yourself, proving that sometimes it’s good to gain an outside perspective on your business plan.”

Karla makes all of her crayons at home, from her kitchen, which she often refers to as her “crayon factory.”

Every order is different, with sets made to order, making each crayon set unique. All orders are hand-polished and assembled in eco-friendly and recyclable packaging.

Currently, Karla distributes her crayons on Etsy and on her Instagram page:- @thelittlecrayonco.

This Instagram account is also used to promote the brand, which Karla helped create alongside her husband. Posts are often centred around personal, lifestyle features that focus on Karla, her family and the true meaning behind the brand. “The Little Crayon Co. consists of myself and my little boy. We’re not a large corporate brand. Posting real-life social media content is what followers love to see.”

And how does Karla manage to run and grow a successful business alongside her parenting and teaching life?

“At times, it can be difficult. I love to spend time with my family so that is always top of my list. Equally, I love to teach, so I invest time planning my lessons or doing admin work.

“I love a challenge and enjoy being busy, so on my days off I usually spend time with my son and try to focus on making up orders in the evenings after the bedtime routine. If I need to, I may also spend an evening at the weekend focusing on packaging orders or making personalised crayon sets.

“Routine is key and trying to be as organised as possible. Reducing my hours to a flexible working contract of three days has allowed me to perform to the best of my ability in all aspects of work and home life. I’m able to have that extra time with my son and not feel guilty!”

Karla intends to continue to grow her business, with plans to develop a website to allow greater accessibility in consumer shopping and investigate the potential for a small, rented premises.

The Exploring Enterprise Programme is funded through the Northern Ireland Social Fund 2014-2020, Investment for Jobs and Growth Programme, The Department for the Economy, Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council and Enterprise Northern Ireland.   

Do you have a business idea you want to explore? If so, call us on 028 7035 6318, or email eep@enterprisecauseway.co.uk