K and K Creative Toys
Fifteen years since taking on the store, owner Lorraine Haynes and husband Sel are firm advocates of balancing work and family life, even combining the two on occasion.
“Our youngest daughter does part-time work in the store during university holidays, while my eldest son also does some work for our website,” she says, reflecting on the decision to run a business which has afforded the couple time to see their children grow up.
“I’ve always had an interest in the needs and development of children and how toys, creative play and interaction can play a part in that."
“While our website means we can now send items anywhere in Australia, we’ve found there’s still a big market for people who want to come in to touch and try out the toys, games and puzzles that we offer and see how they can help parents and their children to play together.”
Meeting the demands of the fast-approaching Christmas shopping season is anything but child’s play, but with extra seasonal staff on board and the offer of a free gift-wrapping service, it promises to be a happy one for the K and K 'family' and their customers alike.
What is your greatest business learning?
Be careful in your search for the right products for your business to sell. We sell products that can educate and which encourage people to engage with their children. It’s important that you’re selling something which reflects what you believe in.
What is your greatest business success?
The feedback we get about our customer service. Whether it’s giving advice about products or carrying them to the customer’s car, people are always so grateful. You need staff who have a good appreciation of the products you’re selling, as well as of the customers who are buying them and this is something we’re really proud of.
What three things should someone consider before starting a business?
- It’s very unusual for a business to run itself so you’ll need to have personal involvement, particularly at the start.
- It’s vital that your business involves something you’re passionate about – for us it’s toys and the learning and high quality family time that they can promote.
- Be aware that your business will take up a lot of your time, but if you love what you do then that’s not always a bad thing!
Is there anything you would have done differently?
No, we’re really happy with how the business has turned out. The business has enabled us to spend time with our family while also selling products that help our customers spend time with theirs.
What have you found to be the most effective way to promote your business?
Word of mouth has always been our best form of promotion. We have child therapists who will recommend us as a place where people can buy certain products which can assist with a child’s development and that is really valuable. Our website has also given people the ability to see what we sell before coming in to visit.
Interestingly we’ve found that catalogues haven’t been as effective as they used to be – possibly because people get so many these days.
How do you stay up to date with the latest business information?
As a toy retailer we are members of a co-operative group which meets to discuss new products and patterns in the industry. We also spend a lot of time speaking to suppliers about what changes they’ve seen in the market place.
Where have you sought business advice?
My husband and I will often give advice to each other. He used to work in corporate consulting while I worked for the Royal Blind Foundation before taking the store on so we both have different fields of knowledge and different appreciations of the business.
What financial factors should be considered when wanting to grow a business?
It sounds obvious but it’s important to have financial resource to begin with. Make sure you consider how you would ride out a quiet spell if business was slow and how you’ll function during your busier spells, which for us is the run up to Christmas.
How do you manage risk?
By being very careful and selective about what we buy in. We encourage people to play with their children, with the toys, and we stock products according to that principle, not whatever the latest fad is which may be dictated by a short term change in the market.
What value do you place in business plans and why?
They’re hugely important. Without a business plan you could really lose your way. We have plans for now, for six months ahead, for busier times and, most importantly, for Christmas.