Northamptonshire children’s entertainment business run by husband and wife team has taken off around the world

Suzanne and Michael Halpin at their office in Towcester NNL-141219-121346001
Suzanne and Michael Halpin at their office in Towcester NNL-141219-121346001

A Northamptonshire couple who set up a children’s entertainment business is now enjoying success around the world.

Craftis, set up by Michael and Suzanne Halpin, is the latest business to set up offices in Towcester’s Moat Lane at The Mill.

The company designs and supplies restaurants and other businesses with ‘bizzi’ bags to keep little ones busy while they wait.

From their offices above the brewery the team organises activity packs for everybody from John Lewis and easyJet to the prison service.

Suzanne, 35, who used to work as a nanny, started carrying her own goody bags to entertain her children, now 12 and 8, in restaurants. She realised that how children behave in restaurants is key to the dining experience and set about selling the idea to businesses serving food.

She said: “I used to get frustrated at the lack of provision for children. I like to introduce a creative activity and to keep them off electronic devices.

“It’s important for children to still be able to do a dot to dot or a crossword. And manners are important. We like our children to be mindful of where they are, particularly at the table.”

Once they came up with the idea the couple went on a trip to China to find somebody to produce the bags and hired a container on a farm in Towcester to stock the product.

The storage space, along with the business, grew rapidly. They now supply five million a year to dozens of famous companies and have an office in New York.

Michael left his job as a sales director to join the team full time.

The team works with South Northamptonshire primary and secondary schools to test drive products and supplies several businesses in the town. The couple chose Towcester town centre as the ideal location to expand the business further.

Michael, 44, said: “The building and the area have lots of character and we use all the local facilities. We also supply products for businesses in the town.”

South Northamptonshire Council Portfolio Holder for economic development and regeneration, Cllr Dermot Bambridge, said: “It is exciting to think that such a far reaching business is working out of the historic Mill building in Moat Lane. Towcester is a very central location with great transport links and fantastic local amenities too. We envisage other businesses joining them in Moat Lane and thriving in this environment.”