Your Name and Age: Winnie Mak (age 38)
Tell us about your family: I was born and bred in Hong Kong and my husband Rafael is half French half Greek. We have a four year old son.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?
Before my son was born, I was running a stagnating Chinese language education business, so I made a decision to take time off to take care of my son and rethink my career options. Becoming a mum to a multicultural child made me realise how much I wanted him to grow up in an inclusive world, so it inspired me to start One Dear World when I found that the choices of soft toy dolls with diverse race and capabilities were limited.
When did you launch?
I launched my first crowdfunding campaign in March 2017 and raised over £18k to produce my first collection of multicultural soft toy dolls and story book that introduce diversity to young children. I am running my next crowdfunding campaign from 23rd September to 23rd October 2019 to produce six new dolls to create positive representation of children with disabilities and to give back to seven charity partners I support.
What’s your favourite thing about running your own business:
I enjoy the process of creating my own products from scratch and having complete ownership of this process. I love seeing my products come to life from the conceptual stage, right through to the finished product. There is so much freedom in being your own boss as you are completely in control and can build a brand and business based on your personal vision.
What’s the thing you least enjoy about running your own business:
Being a small one-person business means I need to manage the cash flow carefully. It also means that I need to do most of the tasks by myself before the company grows to a size which allows me to bring on a bigger team to share those tasks.
What has worked well about your business?
I truly feel blessed to be running this business and have been overwhelmed by the positive response I’ve had from parents, and children about the dolls. As awareness around my original collection started to grow, I found myself starting to be approached by many parents who were looking for an even more diverse selection of dolls. It’s the reason we’re crowdfunding to extend the current range to include six new dolls experiencing a range of different disabilities as the demand just seems to keep growing. I feel like the public and my charity partners have entrusted me to offer something different and alternative to the toy market, and I am very much up for the challenge of bringing more inclusive and diverse dolls into toy boxes. Being a small business means I can be nimble and flexible, and really respond and react to consumer demand.
How do you fit in work with the family?Is your partner supportive of your business?
My husband is not just my life partner, but also the co-founder of my business. Despite his full time day job, he has been incredibly supportive of my venture, taking time to discuss our strategy. He is really hands on and is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get stuck in to help wherever he can. Childcare, on the other hand, can often be a bit tricky. With my family still based in China and Rafael’s in Greece, we don’t have a family network close by to help with childcare here in London. We get by with the help of friends and our great local childcare services, and things are a bit easier now our son is at school. Luckily, my mum-in-law is often around and very hands on to help during school holidays.
Are you working towards a financial goal for your business?
Our biggest priority for now is to raise enough money through our crowdfunding campaign to produce our new collection of dolls. It’s quite ambitious too, we aim to raise a minimum of £25,000 during the crowdfunding campaign, where 10% of the sales will be donated to our charity partners.
Have you had your ‘I’ve made it’ moment? Tell us about it. If not when do you think it will come
I think I will have the ‘I’ve made it’ moment when I see my dolls stocked at John Lewis, Selfridges and Liberty one day.
Where do you hope to be in five years time?
I don’t see One Dear World purely as a doll company, I hope it will become the Snoopy & Friends in the 21st Century one day.
Winnie is currently crowdfunding for her latest range of dolls. To find out more visit www.onedearworld.com/dollsforall