Today I interview the brilliant Winnie Mak, founder of One Dear World.
One Dear World is a London-based startup founded by a multicultural family Winnie Mak and Rafael Tselikas. Inspired by the diverse environment in London, their mixed race relationship and parenting experience, they are dedicated to make the world a better place by showing children a possible inclusive and peaceful world through their multicultural dolls and stories.
1) What gave you the idea to start up your business?
There's a long story that makes me who I am today. In short, I am Chinese from Hong Kong. 6 years ago, I decided to pursue my dream to see the world and came to the UK to study. It was an enjoyable eye opening experience, so I decided to stay and met my husband Rafael along the way.
He's half French half Greek. Coming from a totally different background, our relationship gave me lots of cross-cultural experience. 2 years ago, our son Alex was born and it made me think more about the world we want to leave for him, so I wanted to do something that can make a positive impact to children.
In the playgroup I went with Alex, there's a black doll called Rosie and the teacher there always emphasized the importance for all children to have a doll including enhancing their fine motor skills, language skills and social skills. Early last year, I tried to find one for Alex and started to do a bit of research, then I realized that there're only limited options for dolls in the market with a majority of white girl dolls, so I decided to design a collection myself and write a story about them.
2) What did you do to prepare to start up your business?
I researched about the toy market and started writing up the business plan since mid last year, then I assessed different ways of starting it and finally decided to start with a crowdfunding campagin to increase the visibility and reduce the upfront investment. In end last year, I started to source factory to produce the samples for me and prepare for the crowdfunding campaign.
3) Which aspects of your business did you need help with? Where did you get that help?
There were different aspects that I need help with, e.g. I asked my friends to help me film the video, I got freelencers through Upwork to help me with researching similar crowdfunding projects and locating appropriate media contacts, I asked my friends working in Marketing and PR for their advices in marketing and PR strategy. A lot of facebook groups for entrepreneurs offer great support and a pool of talents when I have a specific question.
4) Describe what your business does and who you target it at / your ideal client
One Dear World aims to
– Create toys that represent all children so that they can grow up having a secure self image, appreciating themselves as they are. In our future development plan, we'd like to create dolls with mixed race and disabilities too so that all children can have a reference and recognise their own beauty.
– Create a multicultural experience to all children and give them a broad worldview. Not all children get to see children of different skin colour on a daily basis, we want children to be able to grow up with dolls that look different from them so that they can have a vision to be friends with people from around the world.
– Break the race and gender stereotype. We will create stories of those dolls about their dreams in different aspects
We target at parents, grandparents and carers as individual customers and will target at nurseries, pre-schools, playgroups, childminders, etc as our busines customers.
5) What is the most rewarding thing about having your own business?
Work on something that I truly believe in and own the whole process of creating it. It's amazing to see how it progressed when I looked back. In a way, I really think it's like nurturing a baby, you don't always have a good day, but it's very rewarding to see it growing bit by bit.
6) What has been the biggest challenge?
Overcoming the doubt in myself and just go for it.
7) If you could go back and give yourself some advise what would it be?
I think I'd probably tell myself to care less about how other people think and talk to as many people about my idea as possible, because it's a great process of refining my idea and shaping the business.
To find out more about Winnie's business check out her links below:
Crowdfunding site: igg.me/at/onedearworld