Dreaming of Baby Entrepreneur Segment
How a mom is realizing her dream of being her own boss whilst promoting respect for other cultures through super cute dolls.
Ever the entrepreneur, the birth of Winnie Mak Tsellikas’ son meant that she had added drive to find a business solution that could work well with the demands of motherhood. A crowdfunding campaign, designs, and lots of lessons learned on the way, led to the creation of One Dear World, a series of multicultural dolls and a children’s book. Winnie speaks with Dreaming of Baby about what it takes to pursue your dreams.
The story behind One Dear World
Charles: Welcome to Dreaming of Baby and thank you for letting us be with you on your journey to parenthood! We have with us today Winnie Mak Tsellikas, a parentpreneur who is kindly willing to share her journey into entrepreneurship with you! Winnie, would you be so kind as to tell our readers a little about you and your journey into entrepreneurship?
Winnie Mak Tselikas: Sure! I’m originally from Hong Kong and I come from a traditional Chinese background. I furthered my studies in the UK in 2010 and there met my half-French-half-Greek husband. We now have a two-and-a-half-year-old son. Inspired by my multicultural family and parenting experience, I started a business called One Dear World when my son was one and a half. The vision of the company is to nurture future world citizens – I believe it’s important for children to be able to appreciate themselves as they are and respect other cultures. I hence produced a collection of multicultural dolls and published my first children’s book after a successful crowdfunding campaign in May.
Charles: Wow, interesting. So, if I understand correctly, your journey into entrepreneurship began after you had already become a parent?
Winnie Mak Tselikas: I set up another company before I became a parent, which provides Mandarin Chinese classes to businesses and schools, but I find it doesn’t allow me the flexibility I would like compared to a business I can operate online, so I moved on and found another business idea while on my maternity break.
Charles: Ok so I just want to make sure I am understanding correctly. Prior to having your lovely bundle of joy, you were in employment and doing a side business teaching Mandarin?
Winnie Mak Tselikas: I was in employment and moved on to the Mandarin teaching business, then the birth, then the current one.
Charles: Oh wow, ok so once you knew the little one was on the way you started figuring out how you could work from home? Is that about right?
Winnie Mak Tselikas: I started to think about what I could do to fit the lifestyle I want, it was a long process… I thought having an online retailer reselling other companies’ goods would be easier, so I actually explored and tried selling Fairtrade products too. Then I eventually settled down with the current idea.
Charles: You definitely got the entrepreneurial bug out of necessity then; what did you learn in those first few months exploring your entrepreneurial options that every parent-to-be should probably know?
Winnie Mak Tselikas: Do your research and try to experiment with a small project. I find there are lots of similarities in entrepreneurship and parenting… At first, you don’t really know what to do and even if you read a lot and get all the advice you can get, you (at least for me) still can’t get rid of the anxiety. Then you try different methods and approaches to find the ways that work.
Winnie Mak Tselikas: “I find there are lots of similarities in entrepreneurship and parenting… At first, you don’t really know what to do and even if you read a lot and get all the advice you can get, you (at least for me) still can’t get rid of the anxiety. Then you try different methods and approaches to find the ways that work.”
Charles: That is definitely true. Tell me about your business now – you started when the little one was one and a half, why is it the right business for you?
Winnie Mak Tselikas: I feel it’s the right business for me because I truly believe in what I’m doing and it’s close to my heart. I am Chinese. My husband is half French half Greek and he has got an Asian half-brother and 3 African half-brothers and that was a big cultural shock to me at first. But after childbirth and getting to know my husband’s side of the family, I realized we could be just a step away from being family with anybody in the world.
Charles: So what does the business do?
Winnie Mak Tselikas: I like to design products that encourage diversity and nurture future world citizens. When I went to playgroup with my son, there’s a black rag doll in the classroom and the teacher always emphasized the importance for children, whether they’re boys or girls, to have a doll. So I started to look for a black doll online and found the choice of rag dolls for minorities or boys are limited.
Charles: I can totally understand that as a multi-ethnic myself there is not as much diversity in toys.
Winnie Mak Tselikas: I then decided to design my own collection and create a story around them. I believe that 1: If children can see them represented in toys and books, they can better appreciate themselves; 2: If children can see a diverse world in harmony through the stories, they can picture that as they grow up and become strong people who are happy with how they are and respect others.
Charles: Wow that must have taken a lot of work, how hard was it getting them produced, etc.?
Winnie Mak Tselikas: Designing the dolls was not the hard part. As I wished to reduce the risk of investing in stock, I launched a crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo from March to May and that was the hard part. To keep the cost low, I have to do almost everything (PR, marketing, doll design, sourcing, writing the book, video editing, business development) myself, with support from my husband during the weekend while taking care of my son. So the biggest challenge is to prioritize the tasks and stay productive so I can accomplish as much as possible within the limited time when my son is in nursery.
Winnie Mak Tselikas: “The biggest challenge is to prioritize the tasks and stay productive so I can accomplish as much as possible within the limited time when my son is in nursery.”
Charles: Did you work with an existing doll producer?
Winnie Mak Tselikas: I sourced a doll factory from China and worked with them to produce the sample and final products
Charles: Was that complex to navigate? What about importing the actual products? Was there a learning curve?
Winnie Mak Tselikas: There were a lot of details and paperwork into it, getting the dolls to be tested, inspected, and eventually importing them, I made mistakes and learned along the way. The dolls are now on sale on our website www.onedearworld.com and the storybook was published on 18 November 2017.
On setting up a crowdfunding campaign to develop the business
Charles: What was the crowdfunding aspect like? I know a lot of parents considering entrepreneurship look into the crowdfunding route. How did you get people to fund your idea?
Winnie Mak Tselikas: That was quite intense and stressful because there’s a very clear target and deadline to go after, and we didn’t use a marketing or a PR agency. My husband and I tried to get as many people as possible to support from our network, then create the pitch video, pitching to parent bloggers and media, etc.
Charles: Did you market outside of the indiegogo platform? Was it all online or did you also use traditional marketing or maybe shops that may have an interest in helping you launch?
Winnie Mak Tselikas: We did it mostly online through bloggers and social media, then we got covered in two HK newspapers and Huff Post and we set up a booth at a Nursery exhibition show.
Charles: Wow impressive, Hong Kong is amazing, getting international media exposure must have helped!
Charles: I have kept you for quite a while and you have been so helpful! If you had to give parents to be one piece of advice before taking the plunge into opening a business what would it be?
Winnie Mak Tselikas: Do the research and do not to be shy to ask for help.
Charles: On that note, if they are interested in learning more about the dolls or book where should they go to find you?
Winnie Mak Tselikas: They could find us at www.onedearworld.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @onedearworld
One Dear World Rag Dolls are now available on Amazon:
Rise & Grind Ambassador Message
If you are considering entrepreneurship or are already on that path we recommend Daymond John’s latest book: