Playing it safe with children's eco toys
Amy Clark wanted to be independent and work from home to prepare for the day she would have children. Three years later, she is not a mum yet but her business, My Child Eco Toys, looks promising.
With a business partner, Clark started a web directory helping families find childcare in 2010. The partner has since left the country but he has kept helping Clark build the website design. About a year in, the early childhood teacher cut down her full time job to three days a week to have more time for her business.
She attended a free 18-month business course at Te Wananga to hone her business skills.
"That provided me with a foundation and a lot of help."
She says the course gave her the confidence to extend her business and start selling eco toys.
"It really pushed me to find ways I could extend the directory."
Clark had spotted a lack of options available to buy environmentally friendly resources both for families and early childhood centers.
She researched and looked for brands that met all her core values - environmentally friendly and fairly traded. She found a plastic range of toys made from recycled bottles in the United States, a cotton range made in Bangladesh, and a wooden range made in Thailand. She says she is confident "no compromises are made when it comes to the quality, how and who made the toys".
"It's pretty neat being able to look at one of the big trucks and say that it was once a milk bottle or know that the organic baby range is helping disadvantaged woman in rural communities of Bangladesh have a brighter future."
Clark says working in an Enviroschool influenced the way she thought about toys.
The biggest investment was getting the initial stock necessary to start selling the toys.
Clark invested $5000 to have her first assortment and its insurance.
"I wanted to have everything in stock so that when people made orders I could deliver as soon as payment was made nationwide."
My Child Eco Toys now takes most of her time.
She tours local preschools to showcase the toys.
"It works really well because they're feeling it and they can really see the quality and hear the story of the toys."
Clark says she chose to promote her products that way to develop trust and build relationships with the community.
About 90 per cent of her stock is sold to local preschools. The rest is sold online or via friends and family, Clark says.
"I've always wanted to do my own thing."