Former Teacher Wins Our Start-up Competition

A former teacher has won our Start Up Challenge 2022 competition with a unique product that literally takes a hands-on approach to mental health.

Our annual competition is open to any business, which is less than two years old or has fewer than five employees, is based within 20 miles of our Estate, and can provide something which could be stocked in our shops or cafes.

Mitch Pinkney, from Witney, came up with the winning idea for her business ‘Cups of Calm’ after realising there was a lack of mental wellbeing resources for children.

Every Cup of Calm contains 30 jumbo lolly sticks that have been professionally engraved with tips, ideas, advice and strategies to give adults and children the confidence to manage emotions such as anxiety, stress and feeling overwhelmed.

Mitch’s product will be stocked in our shop and she will also get ongoing advice on developing her product from expert business mentors along with members of our management team.

“As a former teacher and mum, I know we learn best when our senses are stimulated and when the new information is clear, engaging and as easy to digest as possible,” said Mitch.

“My Cup of Calm is a practical and sensorial resource to help parents and teachers provide children with strategies and advice to manage their big emotions.

“The market is saturated with resources for children’s intellectual, creative and physical development but extremely lacking in mental health and well-being resources.

“This product is aesthetically pleasing, tactile, portable, washable, can be used in a variety of ways and in a variety of settings and the advice can be seen, heard and felt,” she added.

Each cup comes with a letter suggesting practical ways both adults and children can use the sticks; like making lollies with them, using them to dip marshmallows in hot chocolate, putting them in your child’s lunch box or pencil case, sticking them mirrors or using them as bookmarks, along with additional ways to provide emotional support and wellbeing

We launched our start-up challenge scheme in 2018 in a bid to support and mentor locally-based firms.

A total of 15 local entrepreneurs entered this year’s competition with five being shortlisted as finalists.

In addition to Cups of Calm, the other finalists were Bunny and Bear Design, Naturally Curious, Joyful Co Ltd and Indoor Jungle Design Ltd.

This year’s judging panel was made up of our Chief Executive Dominic Hare, Heather Carter, Operations Director, Dennis Allen, Wake Up to Woodstock and Sarah Edwards, who was runner up in last year’s competition.

“Mental health and wellbeing are subjects we are passionate about here at Blenheim and Mitch’s product is a practical, straightforward and ingenious way to start conversations and provide potential solutions for what can often be a hidden and difficult subject for families,” said Blenheim Chief Executive Dominic Hare.

We are committed to providing local start-up businesses with support and a busy marketplace to showcase their products as part of our strategic goals to treble our economic contribution to the local community within 10 years.