Here at Crafty Explorers we have been making great progress. In the last phase of the Knee High Design Challenge we ran a pop-up shop to pilot our idea to support families in playing outdoors through a blend of indoor crafts and outdoor play. In this phase we have been focussed on developing our business plan, conducting some additional research and looking for a property that we can use for our first Crafty Explorers shop.

During our pilot pop-up shop we collected feedback from 100 parents and carers. We learned from this feedback that they highly valued our service and the vast majority said they thought it was good for their children’s mental health, physical health, education and relationships with them. At the end of the pilot while we assumed that our intervention resulted in an increase in physical activity, we did not actually know if or how it did so. During this phase of the challenge we did research with 3 schools in North Lambeth to better understand how a Crafty Explorers experience can increase how active children are. We asked children from 3 schools to wear pedometers over a weekend to give us a baseline for the total number of steps taken by local children in an average hour. We then took 75 children across 3 classes and ran a typical Crafty Explorers workshop with them. Around half of the workshop time was spent making clay creatures and the other half outside doing missions that involved making dens, dancing and finding things for their animals to eat.

We are still analysing our findings, but we have learned that compared to our baseline a Crafty Explorers workshop on its own does not increase the amount of activity most children do. This is because around half the time is spent doing crafts which, although valuable, is a sedentary activity. We have learned that extending the activity to include a walk to a local park is a key part of increasing physical activity. Adding a 10 minute walk (5 minutes to a park and 5 minutes back) to doing a Crafty Explorers workshop increases the amount of physical activity taken by all children. We have always wanted to families children to visit parks that are increasingly further away and this work shows that our thinking in this area was right. We will be thinking now about how our mission activities can be devised more as incentives for longer walks than just trying to make them active in their own right.

As well as developing our research base, we’ve been working on how to reach the people that we really need to reach in order to be successful and impactful. Using the knowledge gained from the pilot, and our psychographic customer segmentation modelling, we know that to get to the diverse audience we need, it’s all about location, location, location. Location of the shop, location of our target audience and location of our service provision. We’ve created sophisticated demographic mapping of Lambeth and Southwark to come up a shortlist of areas to target our property search, which will in turn inform our marketing and outreach plan.

We’ve also been working on our inital business planning and financial modelling. We already run a profitable start-up business with a strong social purpose: Explorer HQ. We know what it takes to make a project work and have the infrastructure in place to really concentrate on making Crafty Explorers become sustainable with the right support. We’ve started running the numbers: figuring out fixed and variable costs, looking at turnover and spend needed, and estimating the amount needed to get a shop up and running.

Our next challenge is to find a suitable empty place for our first shop. We will update you with more information soon. Watch this space!