Wanted. New Fairtrade or Organic toy producers
Best Years was set up in 1999 and originally we were a traditional soft toy wholesaler which specialised in own brand development for high street multiple retailers
We had all the normal problems associated with this business model. Our margins were paper thin as we were dealing with customers who were significantly larger than ourselves. Our volume was completely dependent on our main customers selecting one of our toys for their ranges. More and more buyers would issue us with designs rather than looking at the range of products we had developed so our expertise was of no relevance to them. It was a stressful life but one we understood
Flash forward to 2010 and Best Years is a very different business. Now we specialise in knitted and crochet toys and any own brand development is mainly for non retail businesses who need our specialist toy knowledge. We have a customer base of 4000 independent smallish retailers rather than 10 very large ones.
The move to knitted and crochet toys has been accompanied by a move towards fair trade suppliers. Our Rag Dolls are hand made in South Africa and our cotton crochet toys are hand made by a workers co-operative in Bangladesh
Although the business itself has changed completely this was done gradually rather than a seismic change and it was mostly done by following our noses. Our commitment to ethical sourcing meant that when the pound's value crashed against the dollar we were not able to take the obvious path of simply finding a cheaper factory. Our knowledge of toy safety led us to knitted and crochet fabrics which are robust and tactile and machine washable
The next step is organic cotton toys which hopefully will be introduced in 2011
We have just one real problem with our business as it is stands in Dec 2010. We need some more fair trade or ethical toy manufacturers! By their very nature ethical businesses do not always have access to the internet and do not have the resources to develop their own websites. They do not come to the UK trade shows and they do not have sales teams promoting ther business
We think that our best way of locating new fair trade and ethical suppliers is therefore viral. Please would anyone reading this blog who knows of a fair trade or ethical toy producer email email@example.com
We have the knowledge of EU and UK toy safety regulations, we have a warehouse and we have retail customers who want to buy ethical toys. Now all we need is a new supplier!
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