How often in life do you experience one of those truly wonderful ‘aah’ moments, when you see a beautiful handmade product that is not only exquisitely produced, but is truly unique and manages to touch the soul? Well, South African children’s handmade toy entrepreneur, Gayathrie Schatz, is creating such an experience with her aptly named business, The Little Bo Baby Company.
LoA was delighted to get the chance to learn more about Gayathrie's startup story and the background to her business.
Tell us more about what your wonderfully unique company does?
We bring Imagination to Life. We take children's drawings and convert them into a 3D plush toy. All our toys are lovingly handmade by previously disadvantaged women in Hout Bay, South Africa. We love what we do. Not only are we making countless children happy, but we are doing our bit to empower women - one handmade memory at a time.
"We bring Imagination to Life. We take children's drawings and convert them into a 3D plush toy. All our toys are lovingly handmade by previously disadvantaged women in Hout Bay, South Africa."
What inspired you to start your company?
My husband and I were racking our brains trying to find a gift for our god-child. When I saw how the fridge door was chock-a-block, full of her drawings, I had a brain wave - let’s turn one of those drawings into a soft toy for her birthday. We now have twin girls age 4 and they are just starting to draw - I cannot wait to bring their imagination to life! I also wanted to create the life that I want to live by being an entrepreneur!
So, how are your children’s toys produced?
When you send us your child’s own drawing, here is what you can expect:
- We use only soft, child-friendly fabrics e.g. cotton, fleece, flannel, wool or silk.
- We try and match the colours as closely as possible to the original drawing.
- We don’t try to “correct” any drawings. We keep the cauliflower hands or excess eyes to keep true to the child’s drawing.
What draws people to your product?
We can help you create precious memories of your child's artwork. One of a kind gifting!
Tell us a little about your team
My husband and I do the day to day running of the business. I currently have three wonderful, talented seamstresses that bring the drawings to life. I am growing my company organically. Basically, the more work I get, the more ladies I can hire.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
My journey to start my own business commenced after having my twins. I couldn't bear to be apart from them, so I needed to find something that I could do from home. I did an entrepreneurial course at the Bandwidth Barn in Cape Town. This course enabled me to start thinking like an entrepreneur, because I don't come from an entrepreneurial background. I studied Marketing Management at college and had been working in advertising industry prior to becoming a mother.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
The business strategy for 2015 is all about scalability. We have done the hard work over the last two years building up the brand, now I want to go out there and get big QTY orders. This would also enable me to hire more ladies to work.
"We love what we do. Not only are we making countless children happy, but we are doing our bit to empower women - one handmade memory at a time."
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
The Work-Life balance - well not true all the time, but works most of the time. I do love the fact that I am governed by my time. I can take my girls to their swimming class in the afternoon, then play a little bit with them, and then back to my computer. We do a lot of business with the US, so most of our work gets done in the evening.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Identify what your strengths are right from the start. Find the experts to fill the gaps - you cannot do everything yourself. Finally, never EVER give up!
Contact or follow The Little Bo Baby Company:
Why LoA Loves It….
At Lionesses of Africa, we love not only these adorable handmade toys which are truly unique and highly personal to the buyer and the creator, but also the fact that Gayathrie and her team are creating much-needed jobs for women in her local community, and celebrating their handicraft skills in the process. There is a real feel-good factor about The Little Bo Baby Company and what they are doing - we think 2015 is going to be a great year for them. --- Melanie Hawken, Lionesses of Africa founder and editor-in-chief