Interview with Founder, Ben Strange of Evie & Ewe
Ben is a friend of HereComeTheGirlsBlog so we jumped at the chance to interview him about his new venture, Letterbox Inflatable Sculptures.
Hi Ben, what gave you the inspiration to redesign balloons as well as papier-mâché sculptures?
Sitting at the kitchen table with my daughter with more soggy newspaper on each of us than on our rather sorry looking sculpture. I felt there had to be a better way! We wanted more fun, faster progress, and for the kids to genuinely be in control of the full creative experience.
Your daughter Evelyn helped you develop the idea. What did she bring to the product?
Evie is our Chief Product Tester. Watching how she engaged (or not!) with the different models/art materials/instructions we’ve made up over the years has been instrumental to getting the whole art set just right for little artists.
It was particularly interesting to see how adult intervention/guidance often caused a drop off in interest. As did having an excessive range of colours and art materials. It was also incredibly motivating to hear that she’d sneaked into our workshop to work on a unicorn when she thought no one was watching, that’s when we knew we were getting close to a finished product.
What problem do you believe the technology you’ve invested solves?
There are so many great looking 3D craft projects out there but so few let the kids get anywhere close to what’s printed on the packaging. That is, without significant adult involvement – rock painting kits I’m looking at you!
Our model kits let the kids take control from the start to glorious, glittery, 3D finish.
Check out Evie & Ewe’s website for more information and to get exclusive extras
What gap in the market did you see?
I could see my daughter loved the idea of creating in 3D though the art mediums available to her; Papier mache; clay; pre-made models. But they fell way short of the mark.
Each was far too time consuming, complex, or creatively restrictive. I knew if I could create a new child-friendly 3D canvas, we’d at least have some fun at home. And maybe even go on to create a really cool family business.
How long has it taken you to go from initial concept to finished product?
I’d say 2 years. Although my wife would say 3+ years!
Making the unicorn sculpture took two years. However, it then needed another year of serious head scratching to perfect the manufacturing processes.
I imagine it must have taken a huge amount of trial and error to get the various elements of the balloon right. What was the trickiest part to perfect?
Definitely the manufacturing process. Plaster of Paris is really hard to control which makes filling the dozens of pockets across the unicorn’s skin quite the challenge!
If you were to start over, what would you do differently?
I wish I’d found our local laser cutting machines far sooner. I spent – and wasted – lots of time and money 3D printing the initial unicorn skins before moving across to laser cutting out of foam. It seems terribly obvious now that it was the wrong approach, but I the time I think I got far too enamoured by the 3D printing technology.
You’ve sold quite a lot of these sets now. What feedback have you had from customers?
The best feedback by a country mile has been the photographs of very proud children holding their unicorns up to the camera. Each one looking very unique and using the art materials in their own creative way.
The second best is when we have customers coming back to buy from us again. The current record is 3 unicorns. We’ve also had lots of requests for new balloon characters with Dinousaurs being the firm favourite.
What’s next for Evie & Ewe?
We’re hard at work on new balloon characters. The first of which, will be launching mid-2022. We really struggled to decide between a T-Rex or a Dragon and so we’re going to launch both at the same time!
We Made One!
You can read about our experience. We absolutely loved making our own. Read our Unicorn Inflatable Letterbox Sculpture Review.
Disclaimer: We paid full price for our kit and so our review is unbiased. In our review we talk about the good and the bad bits of doing this craft. We know Ben takes all feedback positively and uses it to make the next version even better!