Nursery Today magazine

Lesson for fine dining

From crowdfunding to a shot at TV entrepreneur investment – family business Nana’s Manners returns to the classroom where it all began

In 2013, Kathryn Baldrey-Chourio came up with an innovative design for knives and forks to help young children hold and use them properly. On Sunday October 1, she and her husband Chris appeared on BBC2’s Dragons’ Den pitching for the Dragons’ investment and expertise to kickstart their company. Despite it being early days, their ideas were warmly received and they were offered investment by Touker Suleyman.

Kathryn, who was a primary school teacher for 10 years and has two children, saw the struggle many youngsters had with knives and forks and decided to do something about it.
She said: “Returning to teaching after having my son, I found myself trying to get children in a class of 30 to eat a hot meal with a knife and fork at lunchtime. Only two children had an idea how to hold and use the cutlery. Lunchtime quickly became the most stressful hour in the day! As a teacher, I have used pencil grips, training scissors and easy grip rulers, yet there was no cutlery out there that works this way.” 

She decided to do something about it and made prototypes using clay to mould handles that were easy to hold and ensured the cutlery was the right way round. Four years later her unique, patented cutlery was ready to launch.
The cutlery was a huge success, winning multiple awards in the first year and is now stocked in John Lewis, JoJo Maman Bebe, Kindly and many more retailers.
Following the TV exposure, they were contacted by a number of schools and Occupational Therapists regarding the cutlery. Kathryn said: “It became clear that word was spreading and our cutlery is becoming increasing used by OTs and educational professionals. It then became apparent that we needed to adapt our retail version to suit these environments.”

“We needed to make a version of our cutlery that was affordable for schools and healthcare trusts. We set to work!”

Nana’s Manners Commercial range of cutlery launches later this summer, exclusively available through the educational supplier TTS. A striped back version of the retail range, the durable cutlery will come in boxes of 10 sets and retail for £64.00. Initial feedback to this range has been amazing – with a jam packed day, schools see real value in practicing fine motor skill development at the same time as supporting their pupils in eating confidently and independently. “It’s great to be able to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak!” – Nursery Owner, SW London.

Kathryn said: “Nana’s Manners had an amazing launch year with a great response to our knife and fork from parents, teachers, childcare professionals and, most importantly, kids themselves. We’re thrilled to be getting our cutlery into schools, back in the place where it all started!”

“We want to go on to produce many more simple and effective products for children because the best way to build kids’ confidence is to help them learn independently.”
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