CHILDHOOD Friends and Moms have become business partners by launching a children’s role-playing themed cafe called Toy Toon.
Katy Larkworthy and Jacqueline Main drew on their own experience as mothers of young children to take their first steps into the business world.
Toy Toon includes an area where parents and children can have a drink and a bite to eat, as well as a themed play area where the youngest can safely stimulate their imaginations.
They drew inspiration from local landmarks and architecture for the business, which was set up in a former betting shop on Elgin High Street.
Katy said: “We’ve been friends since 1996. We went to Bishopmill Primary School together and grew up together. We got married at the same time, had our kids at the same time, we both went to college and graduated and then came back.
“Our children are the reason we do this. We have never found a place that we as adults like to visit with them.
“We wanted to create a place that was safe for kids and enjoyable for adults, and a decent menu for everyone.”
They created a hands-on play theme for kids and looked to local place names for inspiration.
The fire station is called Badenochs, the cafe is called Bytes after the one on the High Street, then there’s Ladyhill hairdressers, Gray’s greengrocers, Elginia library after the dinosaur that was discovered locally, the hospital is called Alexander Hospital after Dr. Gray and camping Cooper.
AM Murray carpentry built the play areas.
“We had silly little drawings and they brought it to life, they did such a great job,” Katy added.
Their logo is inspired by Dr Gray’s Hospital where Katy works, and much of the cafe’s artwork comes from the local buildings around the High Street.
Katy (36) is now a bank nurse at Dr Gray’s Hospital, while Jacqueline, also 36, was a primary school teacher, most recently at Hythehill Primary in Lossiemouth.
They first contacted Elgin BID for advice and then Business Gateway who helped them develop a business plan.
Covid and the cost of living crisis has made the idea of starting a new business more daunting, but they’re still excited about the proposition.
This is the first time they have been in business as individuals or together.
Katy said: “We’ve been tearing it all up with our friends and family. Our logo has Dr Grey’s on it, we have St Giles Church, Cathedral and Ladyhill, and it’s the High Street rooftops that we’ve taken on. photo and sent to our graphic designer to make a cartoon out of it. Elgin is a really cool place and I don’t think people watch half as much as they should.
The friends will do all the baking and cooking for the cafe and outfit the kitchen themselves with a little help.
Jacqueline added: “Without doubt our children have been our greatest advisers and critics. They have taken us to the shops we have at the moment. We have a supermarket and a café, a small campsite, a hairdresser, a library , a construction site and a fire station .
“At Halloween and Christmas, we will have seasonal themes.”
“A lot of people said ‘this is what Elgin really needs’ and we have over 2000 likes on Facebook so far.”
Reservations are required to reserve a table at one of the four sessions each day.
Katy added: “People follow us on social media and we had so many people approaching us when we were in the store. It doesn’t seem like such a big step now.”
With the planned rejuvenation of Cooper Park in Elgin, they wanted a High Street location close to the park, and the former bookmakers shop is ideal.
Jacqueline added: “It’s a huge business. We have our rent and our rates. We’ve had a big (energy) bill so far in the two months we’ve been here, and it wasn’t. than with power tools. So now our huge fridge cake has arrived, our electricity bill is going to explode. We are here to succeed because it is important to have something like this locally.”
With husbands working overseas, the mothers shape the business around their busy day-to-day lives, taking the children to daycare and school, and more.
And they hope the experience means their new venture will be a hit with moms and parents in similar situations.
Toy Toon opens Monday, September 5, and you can find out more at https://toytoon.co.uk/