Case Study: Nana’s Manners Ergonomically Designed Children’s Cutlery

Client: Chris & Kathryn Baldrey-Chourio

Product Protection: Patented, Registered Design & Trademarked

Website: www.nanasmanners.com

Twitter: @nanasmanners

Facebook: @nanasmanners

Instagram: @nanasmanners

The Project

Nana’s Manners is a unique, ergonomically designed cutlery set which teaches children how to hold and use a knife and fork confidently and independently. Many children struggle when learning how to use a knife and fork. They do not understand how to hold the cutlery correctly and use it in a way that allows them to use it effectively. This can lead to children becoming disheartened and giving up all together.

The Challenge

Kathryn was teaching in a primary school watching a class of 4-5 year old students struggling to eat a roast meal. It was chaos! They needed 6 adults in the room to move around, cutting up food for the children. Therefore, she wondered why they were giving them miniature versions of adult cutlery? Children need appropriate tools to help them learn this skill. Kathryn decided that because no such cutlery existed, she would design some herself.

As a parent, Kathryn struggled to teach her own child how to use a knife and fork confidently. Many parents she had spoken to also experienced the same problem. In fact, seeing the problem on a large scale that day in the classroom inspired Kathryn into action. That evening she talked through her ideas with Chris and they decided to begin the journey.

The Process

Once Innovate had conducted a worldwide patent search, helped apply for a patent and constructed 3D concept images of the ergonomic cutlery, getting the product from a concept to a finished product took far longer than Kathryn expected. Chris and Kathryn decided early on that they wanted to self-manufacture. They realised that Nana’s Manners would become a brand (with more products to follow). The products would be dedicated to supporting children in becoming confident and independent as they grow. It was very important to them that they produced a high-quality product they were proud of. Therefore, they spent a significant amount of time finding a manufacturer they were confident in.

Chris and Kathryn visited the factory before beginning the process, and again after the first production samples were made. Kathryn said, “it was an amazing experience that will stay with us”. They remember watching the first samples on the production line and still have the first orange set they watched being assembled!

The Lesson Learnt

Chris and Kathryn used crowd funding to test the market place. They learnt a lot through the process and had some amazing feedback. However, they quickly discovered that their target market was unfamiliar with the crowd-funding platform. They realised that they needed to drive their potential customers to the crowd-funding site. Innovate have some useful notes on how to do this.

Advice to Inventors

Kathryn’s advice would be:

  • Look at your target market before launching your product and look to see if this fits with the users on the crowd funding platforms. It will be a far greater journey than you ever imagined, so be prepared!
  • You will spend weeks worrying about things that never materialise and be blindsided by problems you never even considered.
  • You will learn so much along the way, so try not to feel like you need to know everything at the start.
  • Finally, persevere! There is something so magical about eventually seeing your product in action, helping the people you designed it for. The feeling is like nothing else!

The Result

Chris and Kathryn have received some wonderful stories from parents and grandparents. For example, parents telling them about the positive impact the cutlery has had on mealtimes in their households. Chris and Kathryn have started speaking to retailers, as well as selling their product directly on their website. They are working on developing a commercial version of the Nana’s Manners cutlery that can be used in restaurants and schools. In addition, they have plans for future products, all of which will support children in becoming confident and independent in the world around them.

Have an Idea?

If you have a new product idea Innovate can help. You can submit your idea via our online submission form.