The Cardboard Box Cafe

Nicky McPherson started “The Cardboard Box Play Cafe”, providing a family-friendly meeting place for parents.

The Cardboard Box Play Cafe is a child-focussed cafe, providing an environment that allows parents to meet without worrying about their children getting bored. 

Nicky McPherson started The Cardboard Box Play Cafe after moving to Dunblane and finding a lack of social space for parents to meet where they felt comfortable taking their children, and where their children would be entertained.

As a parent with a background in working with children from areas of social deprivation, Nicky knows the importance of supporting parents in socialising and engaging with their children. Nicky envisaged a cafe which provided meaningful entertainment for children and allowed parents to relax and meet friends, while also facilitating parent-child engagement.

To test her idea Nicky ran trials at The Dunblane Centre, deciding to look for permanent premises after receiving extremely positive feedback on these events. The cafe includes dressing up, sensory and story corners, face painting, and role play activities.

Nicky has worked with Firstport business advisors throughout her journey to starting The Cardboard Box Play cafe. Initially a Firstport advisor was able to help Nicky overcome some of the barriers she faced in starting up the social enter like picking legal structures, setting goals and potential sources of funding. Nicky also successfully received a Start It award to help her cover some of the costs associated with starting the enterprise.

Later Nicky returned to Firstport to receive more tailored, intensive support, which helped her look at ways to build on her early success and expand The Cardboard Box Play Cafe, and received a Build It award, covering some of the costs attached to her expansion.

The Cardboard Box Playcafe is continuing to grow, looking to open more frequently and build on the growing numbers of service users. The team hope to increase their social impact by working with other third sector organisations, benefitting new groups like dads. Nicky also hopes to increase the support available to new mums, particularly those suffering from post-natal depression and struggling with breastfeeding.