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The Kazakhstan toy market for children is filled with an abundance of various forms and options, but few think about their safety. The finalists of the contest "Build Your Own Business" - the Vavilovs sisters Diana and Tatyana after the birth of children decided to organize the project "Diadia Diatel", with the goal of producing wooden toys and furniture of domestic production, in the creation of which only ecological clean materials would be used. Diana and Tatyana told our site about how the project evolved.
About the project's appearance
Diana: When I had a daughter, I started looking for good toys, began to order them from the USA and other countries. That was because I didn't see the qualitative wooden toys in Kazakhstan. All I met were toys with sharp angles and strange colors. One day, and it just clicked in my mind and I told my sister: "Hey, your husband is an architect, he also works with carpenters. Maybe he can make the cubes for us?" Tatyana helped me, and we made a pressrun of cubes. Not only did I realize that my child needed it, I saw that there was no such thing in the market. I started to "scream" that this is a brilliant business idea and it took me six months to get Tatyana to believe in it.
About two years ago, in the summer, I started talking about wooden toys and closer to the New Year, Tatyana said: "All right, let's do it." A couple of months later, we produced the first batch of cubes. We made them from ash, because it was the only available material in the shop.
Tatyana: Now we use elm, because this is local material. This, of course, is not a cheap tree, but at least elm is always available. Plus is a local tree and we use more of our suppliers. I think it's better than importing a tree from Russia.
About the first entry into the market
Diana: It turned out that the local Instagram-blogger arranged an event. I knew she had kids and we presented her some cubes. She wrote about us, everyone liked the cubes, sales began. Everyone started writing about what kind of gentle and tender product we got, that there is nothing like this in the Kazakhstan market. People appreciated the quality. We realized that we are creating a good product and started creating our own workshop. We risked and started building a workshop last summer.
Tatyana: It was a small room. It may be even said it wasn't a workshop, it was a studio. About 200 square meters. We bought the minimum equipment we needed. We made cubes with Russian, Kazakh, English alphabet and numbers.
About the business plan
Diana: We didn't make any accountance at first. But in the winter closer to the contest, we found a person who is engaged in this professionally and compiled a business plan. From the very beginning we decided: if the business going to be flourishing then it mans it is going to be continued, if no then means no. Before that, none of us dealt with own business, so at first everything was done on speculation.
Tatyana: We focused on Russian producers, because for us it is the closest market. We have similar Russian products on our market. Although they have, of course, a tree cheaper than in Kazakhstan. Now the prices of Russian toys are more expensive than those of Kazakhstan. There is even a store where our and Russian toys are sold next to each other, and our products are bought more, because right in the store you can compare the quality.
Diana: Our toys are sold, for example, in the store "Golova v oblakakh", we also participate in various fairs. We have plans to be in Internet shop of children's goods Marwin. This requires large volumes of supplies, we are not ready for this yet.
Our sales are largely dependent on the season. In the summer, sales are decreasing, in the autumn-winter period, sales are increasing. Sometimes cubes are sold better, sometimes tables, sometimes strollers. It is always in different ways.
About getting the grant
Diana: It was a very cool feeling, because we around on our own, believed only in ourselves. It's another matter when you are believe in. We remember that several workshops who also participated in the contest, which made children's toys and we are pleased that we are the one to believed in and chosen. We were told that we have a wonderful quality of products, that we conducted a qualitative marketing analysis. Even more pleasant is that we were appreciated by people who understand business well, it was a very cool feeling. Now the main thing is not to let them down.
About the grant
Diana: Getting a grant in the "Build Your Own Business" contest has played a huge role for us. We wouldn't have been able to create the product assortment we have now. Probably we would do only cubes and constructors. Thanks to the grant, we can produce environmentally friendly, safe children's furniture. When we get all the equipment, we will be able to produce almost any kind of wooden toys and furniture. Now we have a workshop adapted for any children's toys, such as, for example, any toy that can be produced by any western company of this kind. We can create everything in Kazakhstan that is produced abroad thanks to the grant received.
About the usage of the grant
Tatyana: In the first place, we expanded the shop. It took us about a month and a half. In parallel, we ordered the equipment. Something we found in Almaty, something we're still waiting for in Italy. The new equipment will significantly expand our capabilities and assortments.
We've developed a new line of inexpensive children's furniture. Before that, there was a period of customization, product development. One of the local kindergartens in Almaty really liked our chairs and tables. They really want to get our furniture, we are preparing an order for them. Of course, we have reduced the price as much as possible for kindergarten. This is an important project for us.
We originally wanted to manufacture children's furniture, but we didn't have enough equipment. We'll have it now.
Tatyana: I'm watching over a lot of interesting western designers. I draw some ideas in Pinterest, as far as children's furniture and toys are concerned All the designers are inspired by something, but we definitely try to bring something of our own.
Diana: With the start of the new school season, we are thinking about producing furniture - tables and chairs for school-age children. There are many similar products on the market, but we want to offer some new original and inexpensive solutions.
About the assortment
Diana: We produce several types of chairs, tables, boxes for toys and, of course, cubes. We began to produce carriages, carts for boys. We are also waiting for the machine, thanks to which we can produce construction kits. It's clear that we didn't make that up. A regular cube, for example, must have been in everyone's house. But our children like these toys, I see how much my daughter is interested in playing these games.
We've been picking up colors for our toys for a long time and very carefully. Either it's unpainted natural colors, or thought out, not bright colors. We also smooth all corners of our products. The details are a very important process of our production. We selected the safest paint for children that could only be found on the market. We use only natural materials and hardwoods everywhere.
Tatyana: For example, Russian producers can use pine or linden. We didn't use them. We tried and understood that they are dangerous for children, since the chips of these toys can be broken off.
About own outlet
Diana: That's what we're dreaming about. That's what we want, but we need a good assortment of products. But even with the available assortment of products, we increased sales twice for the last year.
About the complexity
Tatyana: There is, of course, a staff problem. It's kind of hard to find people who are totally up to you. I hope that, in time, we will solve these problems as well. It is very difficult to find responsible employees. It's children's toys, we check every batch. Absolutely every package is checked either by me or by Diana. The quality control is very important to us.
About the plans
Diana: I still can't believe we won. It was a very cool achievement for us. But we can see that it works. We cheer very much for our project, because it was an idea that came from the heart and it was exactly what we wanted to do. We like it very much. We would not be able to promote and sell products that we do not like.
Tatyana: Of course, we are in a hurry in terms of expanding the range of products, but we are in a state of constant improvement of our products and the whole project.