“My advice for anyone starting their own business is to do their own research.” – Winnie Mak, co-founder of multi-cultural ragdoll company, One Dear World.
Living in London, Hong Kong-born Winnie and her French-Greek husband, Rafael found inspiration for their company through their young son.
While at a playgroup session, Winnie was trying to find an ethnic doll for her son to play with but could only find Caucasian ones. As the nursery teachers encouraged playing with dolls for personal development, Winnie went out shopping to find a rag doll that represented the London she lived in, with little luck.
“I am raising a world citizen, and I want his toys to represent who he is.”
This inspired Winnie to create a line of multicultural ragdolls and complementary stories. Winnie set out to research the market and find out what options were available with regards to raising finance to make this idea a reality. She chose to use crowdfunding to raise funds and was able to raise more than £18,000 from over 400 backers around the world through the platform.
“Crowdfunding was our first choice of investment because we wanted to minimize financial risk.”
This was also a great opportunity to gauge the level of interest from potential customers and stakeholders which turned out to be huge, and so, One Dear World was born.
“The dolls were well received by parents, early year educators and nurseries. It really warms my heart to see some of the feedback, that parents are really happy to find dolls that look like their children.”
After spending a year building the company, with the support of her husband, Winnie decided to seek opportunities to engage with other entrepreneurs on the same journey as her. After some research in to the types of support and networking groups that were available, Winnie found and joined the Hatch Female Founders Accelerator programme. The programmme allowed her to share knowledge and experience with other like-minded female entrepreneurs and build a network around her.
“Not only did I get the knowledge in specific areas, such as financing, marketing or branding, but I also got mentoring support, coaching and was also able to engage with a community of female founders.”
Programmes such as these help entrepreneurs gain the confidence and self-belief needed to start and run a business.
One Dear World’s success did not go unnoticed – the company was nominated for and won the Family Business of the Year award at the London FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards 2018. Plans for the future of One Dear World include writing two more books and creating more clothes for the dolls, representing more cultures from around the world.