We met Jenny Thomas from Smallprint at a South London fair, in Dulwich, in May and loved her amazing selection of wonderfully illustrated books. The beauty of Smallprint is that they offer the kind of books that we love as adults, the kind of books you want to have displayed on your bookshelf. Books are essential for both educational and entertainment purposes. A good book can be calming and captivate your child for a long time, whatever age. Smallprint are making our lives easier by carefully selecting and curating the best of the best so we don’t have to, they even have a book club where you can chose from one of their packages and they will deliver a selection to your door every 6 or 12 months. Jenny Thomas told us all about how she finds all these wonderful books and gave us some of her essential parenting tips…
Since becoming a mum what have you have found to be most challenging?
Probably splitting up my brain to manage all of the various things that need attention. You have such a massive love for your children and they always come first but sadly the rest of grown-up life doesn't just sort itself out. Anxiety is a downside to parenting and can be quite crippling if you let all your thoughts take hold, you have to just accept what the moment requires and not concern yourself with the rest.
We’re exploring any tips or products that can enhance children's lives or make parent’s lives that bit easier. Have you got any tips for keeping children entertained on the go, in the car or on the tube for example?
With two kids I try hard not to let them take too much stuff with them as they would take everything but I usually pack a few of their favourites that are imaginative and provide good talking points. Sticker and colouring books, a really interactive book that requires a lot of thought or these wallet cards from You Guys are So Awesome. They are a US brand who make multifunctional sets of cards that are really handy for chucking in the handbag and you can use them for all sorts of things like making up stories or simply learning words.
What is your #ParentingLifesaver? The one thing you couldn’t survive without.
Although it is soppy I couldn't live without my husband, he is my total lifesaver. We are a team and the sooner I realised that and stopped bickering about who was doing more with the kids/house/work the sooner it all started working better. In terms of my parenting toolkit, it would be snacks, at all times!
Does your child/children have a favourite toy or book they couldn’t live without, that if they lost all hell would break loose?
My son is mad about a book called 'All Kinds of Cars' which is perfect for a transport obsessed toddler, we have to do it every day but rather than the usual cars, vans, trains, it is full of imaginary vehicles that are funny and super entertaining. My Daughter is 5 and she has had the same teddy since she was born so that is THE toy that must always survive. It is a little threadbare in places but she loves it so much, there is no separating them.
There are so many amazing parents out there doing what they can to make life better for their kids and trying to master the work life balance, do you know any particular favourites we should follow?
The 2 mums behind Lara and Ollie are amazing, they have this wonderful business designing and selling silicone teething jewellery that is really design-led and cool. They have toddlers, they have virtually no childcare and work during naps and evenings. That is the ultimate test of a business. I also love The Bright Company who was set up years back by a friend of mine, she took her PJ company to Brighton to get a better standard of living and is really making it work but it is always a struggle when you have kids. Lastly the rise of Tiba + Marl has been immense, working with their babes by their side, travelling, back to back meetings, they are queens of the hustle!
What inspired you to start Smallprint and how do you go about finding so many beautifully designed books?
When my son was born, my daughter was nearly 3. I struggled a bit with the guilt of giving her less attention, and she found it hard to settle at bedtimes so I decided to make a conscious effort to allow her a bit of 1-1 time where we could really connect and see if it helped. Storytime became our opportunity to interact but I quickly realised our book shelves didn't engage either of us.
As I looked online for some more interesting books I realised it was particularly hard to navigate the big bookshops so I thought I would try and pull together a selection of books that I loved and wanted to share with her. Smallprint was the result of that initial interest in refreshing our home library, I realised there are amazing books out there that tick the box for adult-friendly aesthetics full of creativity but also imaginative and fun for the kids. Families live together and share their interests so whilst there is a particular trend for scandi interiors or ultra cool kids clothes, Smallprint is sharing in design-led children's books that complement style and functionality.
I am always on the hunt for small and independent publishers and spend a large amount of time starting with children's illustrators I love and seeing where that goes. I attend trade shows, I use social media a lot and find a lot of inspiration in art gallery shops.