When it’s time for the kids to head back to the classroom, it’s easy to make a beeline for the big, well-known retailers, but there are some smaller Back To School brands that offer some truly unique products. With this year’s return to school unlike any other, perhaps now is the time to look out for some fun, quirky products that are a deviation from the norm. From personalised hand sanitisers and brightly illustrated water bottles to pencil cases with your favourite teacher’s face on, these school brands all offer something a little bit different.
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You might not have heard of this brand but it boasts an impressive 63-year history. Available on NotOnTheHighStreet, Able Labels specialises in personalised stationery, address labels, bags and mugs, but our favourite product is its customised colouring pencils. The stylish way to start off a brand new term.
Able Labels personalised colouring pencils, £8.95, NotOnTheHighStreet
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If your child is required to wear a mask (if they’re over 11 and use public transport to get to school for example), at least make sure they’re in one that’s fun. Maskful London is making this whole mask-wearing business a bit less irksome with its quirky range of designs. This Back To School mask features inspiring words and classroom-related illustrations so they can get in the mood for learning on their journey in.
Maskful London Back To School face mask, £15, Etsy
Scamp & Dude
Jo Tutchener-Sharp is a former PR director who suffered a life-threatening brain haemorrhage which changed her life. In March 2015, three months after she came out of intensive care, she had registered the company name, Scamp & Dude – a nod to her two sons: Scamp, a nickname for Sonny, and Dude, rhyming with Jude. Now it's a highly sought after fashion business with countless celebrity fans and lots of exciting collaborations. We love the recent collab with Superga - the perfect back-to-school sneaker for young kids.
Scamp & Dude trainers, £37, Superga
This little, independent brand came to life when its creators started making stationery and décor for their wedding day and realised they could turn this into a full-time job. Seven years later, and from the west coast of Scotland, they create products aimed at adding meaning and beauty to the lives of the recipient. Their gorgeous little wooden worry dolls are hand-painted with non-toxic paints and will help children get over any anxieties they have about going back to school. They can choose the symbol on the front and also its gender and hair and body colour. Plus, each doll comes in its own bag and an adorable poem card.
Emilie Rose worry doll, £11, Not On The High Street
Get them back to school in glorious technicolour with one of Rachel Ellen’s iconic designs. This former professional ballet dancer started her business by hand painting cards on the kitchen table of her London flat; now, 21 years later, she employs nearly 30 people and has won numerous design awards. Characterised by their bright, bold and, often cheeky, designs, this brand creates water bottles, stationery, rucksacks and pencil cases that will be the envy of their classmates.
Rachel Ellen magical unicorn writing set, £7.50, John Lewis
Tappers and Pointers
Tappers and Pointers have been taking dancing seriously since 1989 with its range of stylish ballet and gymnastics products. Is there a budding ballerina in your house? Make sure they don’t head off to lessons without this nifty bag to keep their precious ballet shoes and points safe.
Tappers and Pointers ballet shoe bag, £9, John Lewis
READ: Best back to school uniform deals: where to get your kids' essentials online
Syd&Co was founded by Gemma Gonzalez in 2013 who randomly started stitching personalised pictures of her teachers on pencil cases. They were such a big hit that she expanded into all sorts of illustrations on a range of totes, make-up bags, T-shirts and mugs. Her personalised Teacher Pencil Cases are still at the heart of her business and are a great way to remember a teacher as you move to a new school or class, or as a thank you gift.
Syd&Co personalised teacher pencil case, £15, Not On The High Street
As its name suggests Simply Colours is all about creating bright, colourful clothing and accessories. Using a range of colours and fonts, you can personalize products so there’s no chance of them going missing at the end of the school day. With the first ‘New Normal’ term about to begin, these named sports bottles are a great addition to your child’s school kit.
Simply colours sports bottle, £8.95, Not On The High Street
Bobbins Gifts was created by mum-of-two Robyn who had a passion for the personalised and wanted a business that she could run around her two children. Her products are made with kids in mind; these personalised hand sanitizer bottles have bright, colourful fonts and hooks, so they can easily be clipped onto their school bag as they run out the door.
Bobbins Gifts personalised hand sanitiser bottles, £3, Etsy
NFire Labs is a 3D fabrication and printing company that creates bespoke products for individuals and large clients from its base in Hull. Its customized 3D plastic keyrings are a great way to brighten up a school bag and prevent it from going walkabouts at the end of the school day.
NFireLabs keyring, £4.49, Etsy
This little publishing company specialises in creating gifts that help parents communicate with their children. Whether it’s a reward chart that improves their behaviour or a First Day Back At School sign, these clever products help children to achieve their goals, explain what they’re feeling and get creative, all at the same time.
Cerise Publishing Back to School sign, £3.50, Etsy
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