I admit ever since I was a little kido myself I wanted one of the Haba Ball Tracks. Whenever we passed ‘In den Olifant’ a Belgian wooden Toy Shop I asked my mum if I could have one. But Santa never brought a marble run!
I was a boyish girl, I would say, loved building blocks, duplo, lego, marble runs, water runs and water play outdoors and motorised trains. Growing up I was fascinated by factories, smoothly running conveyor build driven productions. In my teens I developed an interest for fashion, so at a point in life where I realised I only had saved up enough budget for a 3 year running course: Bachelor in Fashion Technology was a perfect match. Learning about materials, quality, logistics and and supply chain made my heart beat faster. Yes I was a swotter, wanting to understand every detail and feeling frustrated if my curios mind could not find the answers.
I had a love for traveling and oriental culture in my genes and really wanted to have a management function in a garment factory abroad. A little bit prior to graduating I landed a job in high end Fashion industry. I started for a high end fashion designer as production manager in summer 2007, one year later I was promoted to overall manager of the company. I was living my dream, the best of both worlds: A week in Factories in Morocco, the other week I was organizing Fashion Shows in Paris dressed in designer wear and in between I worked from the office in my jeans and sneakers and organizing shippings to retailers all over the world or stylists of Rihanna or Lady Gaga, the other week supply chain management. It was very hard work, working an average of 70 hour work weeks, the office felt like home and my boss, colleagues and an international team of interns as friends. I was to emotionally attached to my job and employer. I
would have given my life for the company.
4 Years down the line my boss wanted a new direction for the company: ecological and ethical + almost carte blanche for the business model and how to go about it. He would still make all creative decisions. I got so excited that prior to my new contract starting I volunteered already for 2 months! One of my main concerns was: doing it right. No empty ecological marketing. The real thing. But how to make the customers aware of real ecological production, showing it was not just a marketing stunt? Let them look behind the scenes, utmost transparency about products. Let customers understand what the price is, why does high end fashion cost so much? Price is mostly determined by the amount of products that are produced and the quantity and quality of materials that go into it. The overhead costs needs to be spread over the volume produced and sold. So the general theme I introduced was TRANSPARENCY about products, costs, margins etc. This is so close to my heart, many who know me, know I have no taboos, I easily speak and share information, I strongly believe in collaboration rather then hiding information for competitors or customers and I am fascinated about people and their stories, not the facade of of company.
I am very proud to have been part of this start-up and developing the business model but also feel very hurt about the company’s reaction to my pregnancy. I guess life develops itself the way it should be, so not getting a contract renewal made me able to move with my daughter to her daddy in the UK and eventually start this new Toy Shop adventure.
Being a mumpreneur I unfortunately do not have the time or team to make the toy shop as transparent as my previous project, however I will display transparency and openness in a different way. You will see a glimps of me the person behind the business.
I care for the environment and definitely fair trade, but I also love design. Where possible we select products which are as sustainable as possible, but we also add a few plastic toys (because we fell in love with them or to have bath and outdoor toys). I hope to have an open communication with the brands, but will aim to respect it if they do not want to share certain information about their products.