Tell us how Wow was born?
My husband Nadim started WOW toys in 1997. He exhibited just 4 toys at Olympia Toy Fair which immediately caught the attention of a number of influential toy buyers.
Nadim originally graduated in Industrial Design and when he was 25, he set up a Design Company called ‘NAD Associates’. His approach was direct; he telephoned, wrote and knocked on the doors of companies whose products he had seen in magazines and his selling point was to better their products’ existing designs. He was soon given contracts to put his promises into practice. This direct approach won him contracts with major toy companies and he was soon designing for names such as Action Man, Sindy, ELC and My Little Pony.
With so much toy design work suddenly coming his way, he was suddenly in a position to recruit a team of designers and in its first year, NAD Associates was making a healthy profit.
After some time however, he became disillusioned with his paymasters a number of whom who began slashing design budgets in favour of expensive marketing campaigns, a strategy which ensured that the quality of the toys would suffer. Believing strongly in his high principles, he decided to forge ahead alone and established his own brand of toys, WOW in 1997.
His vision was to create the very best toys available to young children. There would be no cutting corners in favour of massive advertising budgets and the good design, safety and durability of the toys would prove testament to his promise.
I joined the company in 1995 in a dual role of HR and PR Manager. I love the fact that every evening Nadim and I can discuss our days’ events and bounce ideas off each other. It’s great to have another set of eyes and ears that you sometimes need to be able to look at something from another angle.
Does it help having children of your own?
Most definitely. When you have children of your own you really appreciate how children play with toys and what toys keep them interested and entertained. Also very importantly you soon learn which toys they quickly lose interest in and end up at the bottom of the toy box after their first play. All this information gives you an ‘instinct’ for what a good toy is and what you would never consider buying for your children.
What ages are your children (and a snippet of info on each too)?
Natasha has just recently turned 10 years old and Alex will be 8 in May. Both children had mainly WOW in their toy boxes when they were toddlers and they loved them. Natasha still has the WOW caravan on display in her bedroom – she doesn’t play with it now but it was her favourite toy when she was little, so it will never be given away. Alex has a bucket of bath toys which at bath time he empties into the bath and there are about 10 WOW figures in there even though they weren’t ever really intended for the bath. That’s the great thing about kids – they innovate and create their own play; you just have to give them the right tools.
Do your children have a say on products?
Not really but they often come into the office after school as it is very close by and they are always interested in looking at new toy designs and playing with the prototypes. At home, Natasha loves designing new toy ideas or ‘improving’ on a design for a new toy she has seen in the office and some of her ideas are actually quite good!
How do you manage to balance working and fun family time?
I am in a very fortunate position in that I finish work every day at 3pm. As I live and work locally and the children’s schools are very close by, I’m able to collect them both from school and from 3pm I leave my work hat behind and become a mum again. Our afternoons tend to be really busy with various after school clubs and homework so I try not to plan too much in at weekends. It’s great to have a whole weekend ahead of you with no plans or obligations. This is when the real quality family time happens.
What would be your advice to anyone starting out?
It is always a daunting moment when you first go out on your own however the resulting sense of freedom and empowerment gives you great energy which drives you forward and helps you achieve the goals. It is imperative to be an optimist and see the glass half full (not half empty). Positive attitude and the will to succeed will see you through all the ‘downs’ and disappointments that lie ahead. Celebrate the successes with your family and friends who will be your biggest allies in the first few years. Friends are often the only people you can emotionally ‘rely’ on when times are tough.
Starting and running your own business can often absorb an enormous amount of time and also be very disruptive to family life. Having an understanding partner is a prerequisite until the time the business is established. Above all enjoy the experience because if you don’t then it would suggest that this type of life is not for you! Always think positive because to win any battles you have to believe you can win.
See Tanya's products at http://www.wowtoys.com/
See Tanya's products at http://www.wowtoys.com/