A Michigan native, Kira Ann Rama is applying her many creative talents to a one-woman business that promises to bring good things to mothers and their kids. Rama, who has a background in education and photography, now resides in Wisconsin with her family. She describes on her website, Z-Dough.com, the epiphany she had one rainy day. While making play dough with her daughter, Zadie, she found it strangely satisfying to mix the ingredients for play dough. “I loved helping her measure the ingredients, knead the still-warm dough, and hear her call, "Is it ready yet?!?" Soon I started experimenting with colors, adding scents, and perfecting my recipe. Zadie loved playing with it, so I figured, "Oh, maybe I'll just make another batch..."
Since then, stay-at-home mom Rama found that other family members and friends – old and young – loved to join her in playful fun with the stuff she made as party favors for birthdays and playdates. It was late one night, described on her website, that she found all the adults in her family communing around a table and playing with the dough she had made. It was then, she wrote, that she “decided the time was right to cast a wider net and start a proper business.”
Rama speaks of how much she loves watching her child explore the world through playful sensory experiences. As a special education teacher, she approves of how the handcrafted play dough allows children to “smooth out their feelings” when experiencing story moods. “It has become my creative outlet,” said Rama, “and I have loved taking a vintage toy and turning it into something new, stimulating, and aesthetically pleasing.” She is passionate about making materials that families can enjoy that encourage open-ended play.
ZDough is artisanal-made from food-grade ingredients that include baking flavors, cream of tartar, essential oils, food coloring, flour, salt, spices and water. Parents need not be concerned then if a child sneaks some of it to eat. Each color has a signature scent, unlike traditional play dough, which it holds for months along with a silky, pleasant texture. The varieties of play-dough are replete with references to Rama's native Michigan. Blueberry, apple, black cherry, and strawberry flavors are scent-filled homages to the family farms in Michigan, for instance, that produce signature fruit, wine, and preserves.
ZDough comes in a rainbow of flavors and colors, including rose, lemon, lavender, and strawberry. It can be purchased at the Z-Dough website. Available now is an autumn palette of Caramel Apple, Pumpkin Spice and Cinnamon scented play dough. It is made in small batches and available in tins featuring a window lid that allows a view of the colors. In Wisconsin, ZDough is available locally at Wild Child – a premier shop for children. It is also available by mail-order from the Z-Dough website. See also the Z-Dough Facebook page, and at Pinterest and Instagram.