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The Gold Coast business getting crafty about childhood learning

These Miami mums are on a mission to make play time more meaningful.

Aug 23, 2023, updated Aug 23, 2023

They met in London, returned to Australia, and had kids at the same time, so it was almost inevitable that Miami mothers Melissa Smith and Alana Elliott, both 39, would start a business together.

“It was back in 2017 and we were both on maternity leave and we live really close by and we did a lot of walks with our prams along the Miami Esplanade,” Elliott said.

Castle & Kite owners Elliott, who has a science background, and Smith, who has a teaching background, have four children between them.

“We both grew up doing lots of craft and we were a little bit like ‘what could we do?’ and we thought ‘we may as well make it into a business’,” she said.

“We started out doing craft boxes because we were doing lots of craft with our kids and our friends would see all this craft but didn’t know where to start.

“We just thought that everyone was doing the same things. We thought what a great idea to do some organised craft for kids.”

Castle & Kite owners Melissa Smith and Alana Elliott

From themed craft boxes, the pair moved into digital resources and learning packs which “became really popular when COVID hit” before expanding into art and craft supplies.

Now they have started to expand into the wholesale market with more than 50 stores in Australia and overseas.

“It sort of organically grew with our kids and with what our customers have liked,” Elliott said.

“We know how important it is in the early years to encourage cognitive development and we wanted our friends to have these same experiences as well.

“We didn’t quit our jobs we just didn’t really go back.”

It’s all hands on deck at Castle & Kite

Despite turning over “hundreds of thousands of dollars” each year, the pair maintain they are “still a small business” whose point of difference is they hand pack their Australian-made craft boxes, unlike some of their competitors.

“A lot of love gets put into that,” Elliott said.

“Other craft boxes are designed here but are packed overseas. We were also the first to have spot and dot markers and magic water scrolls.

“Now we have more than 24 themed craft boxes, our art range has around 15 products and we boast hundreds of digital resources.”

Play time need not be messy

Both women agree the Gold Coast lifestyle and culture is conducive to a creative business such as Castle & Kite – named when the pair were in a Miami park with their children – and which pays homage to castle as in “home” and kite as in “play”.

“The Gold Coast is a beautiful place to live and we love raising our kids here. There is a lot of opportunity here and it feels very young. It is a nice place for a new business,” Elliott said.

“I never thought we’d have this many branded products that you can actually buy in the shops. I still think of it in my head as a hobby.

“We just learn as we go.”

 

 

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