Maria Georgiou’s son loved to cook but helping his mum in the kitchen was fraught with hazards. That is until his mother came up with a solution – a kitchen knife that keeps kids’ fingers safe from harm.
Children plus knives sound like water and oil – something that should never mix – and for Maria’s son, (then) three-year-old Jesse, who was diagnosed with dyspraxia (clumsy child syndrome), handing him a knife was courting disaster.
Maria says she could have given her son a plastic knife, safe in the notion he wouldn’t slice and dice his fingers. But this didn’t cut the mustard for our mumpreneur.
The genesis of an idea began to form. What if she could create a kid-friendly knife that still did the job?
“I realised that other parents must have been having the same issues as me when my son wanted to help me cook. Butter knives could cut fingers; kids’ knives wouldn’t cut anything and were frustrating for him. Handing him a sharp knife was not an option as he had dyspraxia.
“The alternatives were a Bob the Builder knife, which cut nothing, a butter knife, which wasn’t effective, or a child-sized paring knife, which was extremely sharp. I needed to make sure it was safe for him to help,” Maria said.
It was with this thought that Kiddikutter was born.
So what makes KiddiKutter different?
It’s all about the design. To ensure her product’s safety and quality, Maria conducted extensive testing before settling on her original trademarked design. Unlike a regular chef’s knife, which features a straight edge, KiddiKutter’s rounded serrations mean they cut food but not fingers.
“They’re extremely safe for your children to use, and they have passed Australian, European, French, German and US safety testing,” she said.
Kids can use the KiddiKutter with a sawing motion to cut rather than chop. This also makes the KiddiKutter ideal for people to use who have motor control issues.
Maria says you can use a KiddiKutter in the kitchen to teach kids about healthy eating and involve them in preparing and cutting up food.
Since KiddiKutters can cut through meat, they are also ideal to use as cutlery for novice users.
Expanding the range
Recently, Maria has expanded the brand to an adult range for people with disabilities.
“I was getting enquiries from occupational therapists asking if KiddiKutter was suitable for an adult to use. For a lady, it would be ok, but for a man, it would be a bit awkward; plus, they may not have wanted to use a brightly coloured knife,” explains Maria.
“So I developed KandoKutter, an adult-sized knife for adults and teens with disabilities. I wanted it to be beautiful and functional and not look like a disability product. We have made this from beech wood with a plain stainless-steel blade, and it looks stunning!”
Reaping the rewards of a great design
KiddiKutter’s eye-catching design – available in 18 bright colours make – makes it an immediate favourite with budding young chefs, whom Maria suggests love nothing more than picking up a KiddiKutter to assist with meal prep.
“KiddiKutter is a child-safe knife that’s shaped to fit little hands. It’s the serrated patented blade design that allows for safe cutting of all food, but not fingers.
“While other businesses may try to copy our knives, they never match the quality. In 2011 after yet another copycat arrived on the scene, I rebranded, redesigned the knife, and that’s when it took off, especially in Europe, my largest market where I have three distributors,” Maria said.
Taking KiddiKutter global
As Maria’s kids have grown, so too has the business, scoring accolades worldwide for its design. In 2019 the WA business won two Stevie Awards for women in international trade. Not bad for a startup that was founded in a suburban kitchen!
“I started nearly 20 years ago as a way to work from home and provide for my children, “Maria explains.
“My initial order was 40,000 units! I didn’t know anything about manufacturing. I found someone who could make what I wanted on the internet; that was before Google. I didn’t even know the dangers and pitfalls of manufacturing in another country; maybe If I had, I wouldn’t have taken the plunge. But the stock turned up, phew!”
While KiddiKutter continues to garner accolades, Maria is not content to rest on her laurels.
“I am always looking for a way to improve the product; we have recently redesigned the blade to make it wider so it can spread butter etc. The blade is also finer, so it cuts food beautifully.”
Cooking made easy with KiddiKutter
As for her kids, are they now culinary experts, thanks to KiddiKutter?
Maria laughs. “I actually don’t like to cook, so I wanted both my kids to be competent in the kitchen.
“Cooking teaches kids so many useful life skills and healthy eating and just creates beautiful memories: the smell of a baking cake or roast dinner can transport you back to being a child in your grandma’s kitchen.”
And if Maria has her way, KiddiKutter will be helping 1000s more kids to create family memories in their kitchens.
“I am working with product designers to create a range of kids cooking utensils next, which is really exciting. I love practical products that can be used every day….”
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