Imagine growing up within a family, who’s business is joy, happiness and nurturing creativity.
When I first started chatting to Yael of Ideal Toy, the first thing that jumped into my mind was the 1988 movie ‘Big’, growing up I watched it more than once. The movie stars Tom Hanks, a boy that is magically made into a grown up and ends up working in one of the largest Toy companies, you might remember that iconic scene where he dances on the giant piano keys. Watching that movie as a kid, I thought, that working for a company that’s business is toys must be the best job ever.
Yael is the granddaughter of Ideal Toy founders, one of South Africa’s leading toy companies. Let’s get to know a bit more about this mother and business woman.
Who is Yael?
- Meet Yael
I was born in 1980 in Springs, 45 minutes out of Johannesburg. I moved to Johannesburg when I was 11 years old and it took some time getting used to the city, coming from a small town.
I am the youngest of 3 siblings and even though there is only 5 years between my brother and I, I grew up feeling like a laat lammetjie.
I went overseas for a year after school and then came home and got a degree in graphic design.
Growing up within a family – who’s business is toys –
What was that like as a child?
I have my happiest memories of growing up in a family business of toys. I was not spoilt with toys ( I personally love to spoil my girls now with toys and love to always test new ranges of our brands on them). I remember my mom came home, took a Barbie out of the box and put it under my pillow and said Shhhh… don’t tell dad. I worked all my holidays cleaning and packing shelves and working at the till. It gave a sense of responsibility, belonging and I loved that I was always the boss’s granddaughter and daughter.
Tell us the origin story of Ideal Toys
My grandparents started the business in 1936, it started as a retail bicycle shop and at some stage it moved over to being toys. My grandfather ran it until he retired at 90 years old, then my dad took over the running of the business and currently my husband Paul runs the business.
Did you always plan to join the family business?
My dad always said that he saw me as the one carrying the business to the third generation but at that time I never saw how that would ever happen. I didn’t imagine it would be through my husband that the vision would come to fruition.
When you were young what were your favorite toys?
Hands down Barbie. I played with dolls until I was 11 years old.
Does the toy industry in South Africa differ at all to overseas markets?
We do follow overseas trends and all the brands we get are in overseas markets.
Are they any exciting toy releases we can look forward to leading up to Christmas?
We are bringing out a new construction brand called Engino that will be in the stores for Christmas. We are very excited about it.
As a mom and working mom, how do you find balance between the office and how life? Any tips for moms?
My first 2 jobs were 8-5pm jobs and I was totally miserable. I had awful bosses and I missed my baby terribly. I took 4 years off after my little one was born due to post partum depression. After 3 years I was getting so bored with out a sense of purpose as I was filling my days with appointments and coffee dates. Then came the opportunity for me to start up social media in our family business and I jumped at the opportunity. I loved it from the word go and specifically I feel proud that every thing I do is for the good of our business. At that stage I was working in an office for 6 hours a day which became hard to do lift schemes and do homework with my kids. I remember my mom always working in the business until 5pm every day and I missed having my mom home. I really wanted to be more involved with my kid’s lives. Then a year ago I started working from home and it has changed my life. I have to be disciplined to work hard in the mornings so that I don’t work when my kids get home. I feel so full of gratitude that I can do my kids lifts and take them to their extra murals.
My advice for moms would be to do what you love and are passionate about. Being a working mom is a necessity in these times and if you love your work it goes a long way. About the mom part, it really is finding the balance that works for you. Not every mom enjoys doing lift schemes or homework, getting an au pair can help with that. But don’t forget that kids crave quality time with us, be that at night or on weekends. (phone free is optimum, but I am totally guilty of spending time on the phone with my kids)
What is your favorite part of your job?
I am passionate about social media, getting our brands out there and about toys in general. After all I design posts for toys and dolls, what could be more fun? I get to use my creativity from my graphic design days and I get to work on platforms that are relevant in today’s times.
If there is one thing you want people to know about Ideal Toy?
That we pride ourselves on brilliant service and that we are always innovating.
I am totally grateful for my grandparents and parents who have given us this opportunity and I hope to make them proud by carrying on their beautiful “toy story”.