Parents in business: Nazneen of fabula toys

Nazneen Yasin, 37, is the founder of fabula toys, a line of children’s products that facilitate play using a universal language that every child is fluent in even before they can comprehend actual vocabulary – nursery rhymes. Read more about her business journey here.

Tell us about your family – My husband and I have been married 7 years and are parents to a very chatty 4 year old.

What is your business and what does it offer?

It is built on the ethos that if young children are to stop spending time in front of a screen, it is imperative that they are offered an alternative that continues to explore the same thing they adore on-screen but in a traditional ambience. And for young children, the most viewed digital content continues to be nursery rhymes. That is why, each fabula product focuses on one rhyme at a time exploring the characters, the story and sometimes even the actions involved, to encourage better comprehension and stronger engagement. True to it’s meaning, each fabula product has story-telling at its core.

fabula products are designed around the Early Years Learning Goals set by the UK Department of Education ensuring that children engage both their hearts and minds every time they interact with fabula. Learning is a key purpose for the brand and therefore the educational benefits of each toy are explicitly marked across the website as well as product packaging.

What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition? I am an Oxford MBA with 16 years of experience in Marketing heading teams across Europe, Middle East and Asia in retail brands such as Toys “R” Us, the early learning centre, IKEA, Nokia, The Body Shop, and ACE Hardware, among many more.

When did you launch? We launched in February 2020

How did you get started? Well first, by moving countries – from Dubai (UAE) to London (UK) and then the usual paperwork, getting the business registered, opening the official bank account etc. But the fun part of the business followed soon where I dedicated a large part of my focus on designing the toys that we eventually went on to manufacture.

What’s your favourite thing about running your own business? The fact that we are driven by a mission and that every day fabula is being able to support parents who are actively looking to encourage non-digital playtime among their children. I’ve been the parent who couldn’t find a solution in the past, so now that I have created one myself, it gives me immense happiness to share it with others.

What’s the thing you least enjoy about running your own business? The loneliness. I think it’s quite under-estimated and often not talked about much. But everything that the world has complained about last year because of ‘Work from Home’ is really just ‘Work’ for a small business owner. Whether it is not having other adults to have a chat with, or celebrate small successes with or bounce an idea off or bigger things like Wi-Fi trouble completely disrupting your operations for the day! The one-man structure of a business is a mammoth challenge that is rarely ever properly addressed.

What has worked well about your business? I think customers, followers and even just strangers I discuss fabula with have all been able to relate to the problem I am trying to solve. I come with personal experience and a lot of support. I make sure I am not judging or preaching, just helping those who are looking for help and that has helped me, and fabula, bond quite easily with people.

How do you fit in work with the family? It’s very hard, without a doubt. But what I have tried to do is stick to strict business hours for fabula work – this usually coincides with my husband’s work hours and daughter’s nursery hours. So to a large extent that helps us all manage a better work life balance. But of course there are times when I’m responding to customer emails while making dinner or setting up new ads late into the night, but I’m trying to be as disciplined as possible and it definitely helps

Where do you hope to be in five years time? I would hope for fabula to be at least a mid-recall brand among parents in the 0-5 year category, for the toys yes, but more importantly bringing families together with the cause of balancing screen time with active play.

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