HeyDoodle mats: How the pandemic inspired this seven-figure business

Crises can take many forms. For some, losing a job is one of the biggest personal crises a person can face. Gone is the security of a weekly wage, holiday pay and sick leave. In its place now is uncertainty and fear of not knowing how the bills will be paid eventually.

When architect my role was made redundant four years ago, along with 1000s of other Australians, I had two choices – to succumb to the fear or get into solution mode. As mother of three (two at the time of losing her job) I had dedicated my career to my chosen profession. I loved the order and structure of digital design and seeing concepts come to life.

How the pandemic inspired HeyDoodle

I applied the same problem solving thinking to paving a new way forward during COVID. It is confronting when you have worked hard in your profession, to then wake up knowing you have to find ways to fill your day. Being made redundant during the catastrophic pandemic should have been the worst thing to happen to me, but it was actually the best thing. It gave me the time and space to tap into my creativity and come up with a business idea.

My whole life has taken a different path to the one I was on, and it is so much better. Keeping kids entertained was the holy grail for parents during the pandemic. I would set my kids up with a drawing activity, so I would have a few minutes to myself, but if they ran out of paper, woe upon me. It got me thinking about a product that would be sustainable, easy to bring on-the-go, and engaging, and soon I realised that there was a gap in the market.

HeyDoodle was born. HeyDoodle mats are a portable drawing canvas with a wipeable surface that gives children a fresh surface to explore their creativity. With captivating educational themes and academically-approved learning activities, they encourage mindfulness, dexterity, and creativity while learning through play and exploring letters, numbers and shapes.

HeyDoodle now bringing smiles to kids all over globe

Designed in Australia, the mats are the perfect entertainment activity for children aged 2 to 7. As a parent, the most sacred time I have is when I watch my children absorbed in a task. I can almost feel the learning centres of their brain firing away. The house is quiet, and I can have a cuppa in peace. Nurturing my own daughter’s love for drawing inspired HeyDoodle.

I wanted to find a way to keep her entertained, without having to carry an array of paper and colouring pages every time we left the house. In less than four years, this business, born in the midst of a crisis, is now a seven figure business, used by 1000s of families Australia wide, and in over 550 Australian stores and 19 worldwide. It would have been easy to give up, spend the time cleaning out cupboards and watching movies, but I am a problem solver.

I could see a gap in the market, and the COVID pandemic also gave me time and space to get my creative juices flowing. When so many were saying ‘the sky is falling’ all I saw was the sky’s limit. There are always opportunities in the marketplace. You just have to go searching for them, be open to adapting and not get too hung up on the outcome. When you find something, hang on and commit to the process because it is amazing what can happen.

Beatrice Toh is the Founder and Director of HeyDoodle.

Beatrice Toh, Founder of HeyDoodle