What is your name and job title?
Anja Wiedemann-Bates, Founder and Director of Spotty Giraffe
What did you love to play with the most, as a child?
I have great memories of playing with our BRIO train set (my baby sister used to destroy the track a lot J). My mum kept it in a box for years and now my own children play with the train set when they visit my parent’s house! I also loved playing with dolls when I was little and I remember that most of my friends also had the classic HABA dolls pram (some are now being used by their own kids)! I very much enjoyed playing shop with our pretend market stall and the toy kitchen was one of my favourites, too.
What do you love most about the world of children’s toys?
I find it fascinating how children learn so much through play - without even noticing. Pretend play is great for the whole family as everyone can interact and play together. Whilst noisy plastic toys do attract children, kids tend to return to the classic wooden toys as these can be played with in so many different ways. There is no limit to a child’s imagination!
What are the highlights in your toy boutique for this winter?
Whilst our bestsellers tend to be popular for a long time there are always new products to discover. One of the highlights this winter is certainly the new Le Toy Van Doctor’s Bag, which is the best (wooden) Doctor’s Bag out there! The Sevi Penguin Push Along toy is a great winter themed toy but it sells throughout the year.
How important is it to keep up with changing toy trends?
As a toy boutique that sells mainly traditional and classic wooden toys the short lived trends of movie characters and plastic toys don’t really impact our range. That said, all our brands develop lots of new products, which are modern and timeless at the same time (e.g. HABA added a great Sushi Set to their play food range this year).
Did you start working in the world of children’s toys so that you could unapologetically play with them forever?
Starting my own business with Spotty Giraffe was mainly a career change. I do, however, love playing with the toys together with my 3 children! And as I really adore the toys we stock, selling them is so much fun, too.
How do you select what to sell in your boutique?
Every product for Spotty Giraffe is handpicked and carefully selected. There are certain criteria which the products have to fulfil: quality, design, play value, value for money and they have to be a little bit different. Only very special toys make it into our collection.
Quality is key at Spotty Giraffe! The majority of our high end toys are manufactured in Europe and if they are made elsewhere they are always of great quality and ethically made!
Last but not least, as a mother of three children, I know what works for children (and parents)!
Why is it important to still have independent toy boutiques?
We provide a very personal service at Spotty Giraffe, which is great for our customers. If customers are unsure what to buy as a gift, we can give individual advice and recommend specific toys, which are not available at every high street chain. Our toys stand out from the crowd and we think that the personal touch makes all the difference!
Why did you enter the Junior Design Awards?
We believe that Spotty Giraffe is a great online boutique which offers fantastic toys and also provides a great shopping experience through the modern and easy to use website. Spotty Giraffe has had amazing customer feedback and is growing constantly.
What do you predict for the future of children’s toys?
Innovation doesn’t only stand for technology. There are always new ways of working with traditional materials like wood. Classic as well as modern wooden toys will always be popular with children and adults alike!