With today’s largely sedentary, screen-saturated culture, parents ought to rethink on how much time should one permit one’s kids to spend absorbed in digital screens. The problem has become serious enough that WHO decided to issue its first-ever screen time limits; a cautionary tale for all of us, parents; that how excessive screen time can harm our children’s health.
For today’s Chatting With, emakayah.com interviews Dr Mei Mei; the founder of Dough Little. The goal behind the founding of Dough Little was simple yet profound; apart from empowering children through the power of sensory play, Dough Little aims to be one of those “Pause” options parents can resort to when their children are too attached to digital screens.
Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule for this interview! Could you introduce yourself? Who are you and what you did before this?
Hi there! I’m Mei Mei. Thank you so much for having me here on this amazing parenting platform. I am firstly a mom to two bubbly lions, my 4 year old girl and my year old boy. I was a Stem Cell Scientist with a PhD from Imperial College London, and I truly love all things sweet and crafty! After living in London for 16 years, my little family relocated back to Malaysia to serve our beloved country; hoping for a better future for our children. I am now fully devoted to Dough Little, a company which I founded, with the aim to empower the lives of little ones all over the country and more, starting with mine!
What made you decide to go into the toy selling business? how were you inspired?
Since we relocated back to Malaysia, I felt a tremendous need to identify an effective way to help children like mine to be seated and positively occupied during meal times outside, thus avoiding the need for potentially damaging screen times. I found myself constantly looking out for toys that are not only extraordinary and fun, but also ones that I can be confident are safe, natural and organic to some degree. It was not easy to find toys like that, so I decided to create one!
My daughter really loves playing dough all the time! Knowing that commercially available play dough contains petroleum-based hardeners and chemical preservatives, I decided to develop 100% natural play dough that will also be safe for my younger son if he decided to take a nibble. Combining my knowledge in Science with my artsy juices, I came up with Dough Little Sensory Boxes and Jars that somehow became an instant hit with our friends. So, naturally, we decided to make it available to everyone parent out there.
Apart from simple messy play, what are other benefits of playing with play dough for young children?
The benefits of playing dough is almost endless, particularly for the development of children in their early years. Playing dough enhances creativity, imagination and communication through role playing and building of ‘scenes’. The act of squishing, kneading and rolling enhances our little ones’ fine motor skills development which will help in pencil grip and writing at later stages. Playing dough is also shown to be therapeutic and calming, particularly with soft textures and scented ones like Dough Little’s. Other reported benefits of playing dough include improvement in attention, literacy and numeracy, and development of hand-eye co-ordination.
Personally, I feel that most kids naturally love squishing dough, so much that it can keep them playing independently for long periods of time. This frees them from unnecessary screen times and are excellent solutions during travel and meal times.
Can you name any two of your toys or themes which are your favourite? Can you give a brief description of how did you make those play dough?
I absolutely love Dough Little’s Underwater Ulsa and Jungle Pals Boxes, both of which are also my daughter’s favourites and our bestsellers. Dough Little doughs are thoughtfully handmade by me and contain only high grade 100% natural ingredients that are used for baking. Key ingredients to make the doughs are water, flour, salt, oil and food colourings, all of which are gently kneaded to form taste-safe, soft, non-sticky, pliable, kinder to skin and long-lasting (up to 6 months) doughs. Most importantly, Dough Little doughs are flavoured with food flavours thus making them smell super gorgeous!
Any challenges or surprises you’ve encountered in your months or years of selling these play dough?
I must say that the main challenge in the months of running Dough Little is the need for more time in a day! Nevertheless, I am truly enjoying myself and learning a lot during the process of establishing and building Dough Little.
Do you have any favourite memories or stories about connecting your products with customers?
I am very grateful for being able to create Dough Little as a platform to empower women and children, which is something that I have always been personally passionate about in the many years that I have been abroad.
Through Dough Little, I have developed several friendships and bonds with Mamas who purchased from us. I was able to listen, discern, advice, empower, encourage and more importantly, be encouraged in return. I am grateful that Dough Little has been able to contribute in giving Mamas (and Dads) the free time that she desperately needed. Dough Little has been able to help little ones eat better during meal times and also have improved behaviour because of less screen time. To more praise reports in the near future!
Little Dough profile at Listing at emakayah.com