A MUMMA WE ADORE
Introducing Nikki Buckland founder of Meet Make Create
With the school holidays over, we've been thinking a lot about discovering new and creative activities for kids. Nikki is a mumma that we adore, and we wanted to share her story with you. Read our Q&A and discover this mumma's journey from struggling to find creative after school-activities for her daughter, to founding a business that fosters creativity in kids. We get a little political on the question of whether our education system stifles creativity, and we get a whole lot practical when Nikki gives us her picks for what every mum needs in their playbox arsenal.
So settle in, grab a tea, or a glass of wine, and enjoy the Q&A....
Why is it so important to foster creativity in children?
Oh wow – how long do we have?!
In my opinion creativity opens our hearts and the doors to our mind. It connects us with our passions, brings people together, instills curiosity, allows uniqueness and builds confidence and resilience and for the most part it is FUN. There is also a science behind it, that shows our brains grow and develop and are capable of more complex things when we are given the freedom to be creative, not told how to produce an end product. For MMC the process is the most important part not the end product, because it gives a sense of accomplishment that no one can take away from that person because they followed their heart and made the decisions that created the product. There’s nothing more gratifying than feeling competent. All humans are pleasure seeking beings, we want to feel good about ourselves and when we accomplish something, that we did, not that someone else helped us with, we feel so good!!
It’s been said that our education system is stifling creativity in children; do you believe this to be true, and what do you perceive are the ramifications of this?
This is a hot topic at the moment and certainly one that I think needs addressing sooner rather than later. In my opinion I agree that the education system is stifling creativity and the ramifications are, that we are producing cookie cutter people. I don’t want to downplay the importance of the education department but teachers are time poor and they have a very strict curriculum. The curriculum does involve a CAPA (Creative and Performing Arts) project but I don’t believe that it’s enough, or that they incorporate creative thinking into mainstream subjects.
Children need to create freely without inhibitions, judgment or grading – not remaking Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’, not doing your usual still life that everyone in class is doing or being forced to colour in over a stencil; and then expect to be graded on the work. That’s when the doubting thoughts, “I’m not creative” or “I’m no good at art” are planted and their inhibitions start to form from this sort of judgment of whether they got an A or a D. Sadly I believe that, in certain schools, children begin to lose the freedom to explore, take creative risks and experiment by focusing on passing exams and receiving “good” grades.
Tell us about the origins of Meet Make Create; how did it begin, and how has it evolved?
In 2014 Paper Runway evolved into Meet Make Create. I was looking for after school activities for my youngest daughter and when I couldn’t find one that ticked all the boxes for her creative needs, I created it. I started running classes after school in Mullumbimby and above 100 Mile Table in Byron Bay. MMC has evolved into a thriving community of kids who are fizzing with creativity. But the big news is that we have launched MMC as a franchise and I am beyond excited to take the business to the next level but most importantly start spreading the importance of creativity Australia wide.
What are some of the programs that you currently run, and what kind of impact are they having?
We provide unique and inspirational creative workshops and believe that empowering children to use their imagination to explore and experiment, leads to creative thinking and problem solving. Currently we run classes for mini makers (non-school aged), after school classes, private studio classes, school holiday workshops and in school programs. We also run birthday parties in and out of the studio as well as festivals and events. It keeps me very busy, which I wouldn’t have any other way.
Our mission is to empower children through creativity. To witness a child absorbed in the creative process, committed totally to self-expression and exploration is awe-inspiring. I love seeing their sense of pride and accomplishment when mum or dad comes to pick them up. It’s like they’ve grown a little each time they exercise their creative independence. I hope that each child leaves the studio proud of their achievements, with a sense of accomplishment, confidence and the belief that they are unique and capable.
What has been one of the biggest challenges that you’ve encountered with Meet Make Create?
Building a business from scratch is hard work. It can be incredibly rewarding but equally deflating some days. The hardest thing for me is working on my own and being all the things for the business as well as working in it. Social media often portrays a comforting picture of business but what it doesn’t show is the long long hours, the tears when something doesn’t work, the moments when you think “it’s all too hard” and almost give up, the financial stress etc. But whilst some aspects are hard, this is my purpose and passion and I love it – the good, the bad and ugly and, if I can create this for our future generations then I am a happy woman.
We know that you studied law, however went on to create Paper Runway, and in 2014 founded Meet Make Create; what was the catalyst that drove you to pursue a more creative career?
I’ve always had a creative passion. From a very young age I recall making dolls clothes with my mum and grandmother, and my grandfather taught me to crochet, so it has always been a part of who I am. Whilst working in a corporate world and watching people move in and out of the daily grind like Groundhog Day it really triggered a strong desire to get back to being more creative. I really felt like the corporate world was sapping the life out of me.
You are a mother and an entrepreneur, how do you manage all of your responsibilities, and take care of your own well-being?
Breathe! Don’t try and control what you cannot control. Coffee all day long until it’s the appropriate time for a G&T or wine. One lesson I wish that I had learnt a long time ago is wherever you can take a moment for you; it doesn’t have to be a long time, just enough to regroup, exhale and go again. For me it’s meditation, a quick coffee in the sun, a beach walk or a chat with a friend to debrief.
What has motherhood taught you so far?
Abundance; patience; gratitude; resilience; unconditional love and how to count back from 5 really really slowly! Motherhood is an incredible journey it has you bursting at the seams with joy and happiness one moment and wondering how you actually survived the day the next. Be open, go with the flow whilst creating age appropriate boundaries, do everything with love and compassion (even the ugly bits)!
The beautiful images that you have shared with us were created in the beautiful Byron Bay Hinterland, while gathering items from nature for an afternoon of craft in the sun. Why is it important for children to connect with nature?
Nature doesn’t change for anyone. It doesn’t listen to judgements. It just is. There’s a strength and serenity in that. These are qualities that we all strive for in life. So it is important to be in awe of it, inspired by it and grateful for it. Nature grounds us. Don’t you just feel better walking bare foot on the grass or soaking in the sea? I know I do. I wanted to open their eyes to the incredible surroundings and what nature provides; the colours, the movement and texture. I think it’s important that we educate children to care for and protect the earth around us but also to utilize the gifts that it gives to us each day.
What should every mum have in their playbox arsenal if they want nurture their child’s imagination, and creativity?
Glue gun - my number one must have.
Sticks, leaves, seed pods – collected items.
Recycle and repurpose what ever you can – boxes, egg cartons, milk bottles, bottle caps, corks.
Play dough (yes for any age!) Download Nikki's favourite No Cook Play dough HERE
Most parents enjoy the hassle free creative experience where they don’t have to clean up!! Meet Make Create have a space that is purpose designed to let kids make as much creative mess as they like. It’s a win win. MMC is offering some awesome after school activities for primary school children and mini maker classes for the littlies. Or visit her website if you're interested in starting a franchise.
For more information and to book now:
Follow Nikki on Instagram @meetmakecreatebyronbay
and on Facebook @meetmakecreate
In love with our Bamboo Essentials seen in the images above? Shop them HERE.