The Story behind toucanBox

Virginie and Sara

Virginie Charles-Dear

Hi! I’m Virginie, CEO & founder of toucanBox. Like a lot of parents, I have relentlessly inquisitive children, two daughters and a son of preschool age. Every parenting book, blog and pamphlet I read told me how important imaginative play was to these early years in my children’s development. But what they didn’t tell me was where to go for creative materials when I was housebound with a newborn, and my four-year-old, Hannah, was looking up at me, waiting to start the latest art project she’d seen on TV. You know the ones that seem to think 24 ice lolly sticks are just laying around the house like old batteries?

I thought to myself how wonderful (and wonderfully convenient) it would be if I could get a tailor-made selection of materials and activities delivered to my door. A regular treasure trove of fun and educational themes to keep the kids entertained in a productive way. So, the next day, I went out and made a mockup to take home to Hannah. When she eagerly requested a second box as soon as she’d finished the first, I knew it had passed the customer test. toucanBoxes have developed a lot since that first shop-bought prototype. What started as a handy solution to a common problem has now become a new accessible way to engage kids in play, one we hope you and your little ones will continue to get excited by with each and every delivery!

Sara Barokas

Hi! I’m Sara, Chief Product Officer here at toucanBox. When my mother started a Montessori school over 30 years ago I was recruited to help out in the classrooms during Summer Camp. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this would lead to a pretty amazing career in education; with 12 years as a lead teacher, 7 years as a faculty member at the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies and eventually Head of School at the school my mother started. In 2012 my husband and I, ready for a new adventure, relocated to London.

I was a little lost at first. I knew that I wanted to do something in education, but didn’t want to be confined to a classroom. That’s when a mutual friend suggested I meet with Virginie, who was just beginning to develop toucanBox. I fell in love with the idea straight away. One of the toughest struggles I encountered during my years in the classroom was helping parents who struggled to find the time or inspiration bring fun, hands-on learning activities into their own home. And toucanBox was the perfect solution! I got my hands covered in glitter straight away.

I wanted to ensure that each toucanBox project didn’t just revolve around fun, but learning and development, too. Now I spend my days covered in paint and glue, testing new projects with kids and dreaming up new ways to engage both parents and children with meaningful activities that they can do together. It might just be the best job in the world.