The story of Czech toys HappyGoDucky began a year and a half ago when Vojta Vorel and Amy Simons decided to show the magic of traditional Czech toys to Australian kids. Vojta moved to Australia when he was 22 years old and wanted to import Czech products from the very beginning. The idea of importing toys came up by accident when Amy stumbled over one in the Czech Republic and it caught her attention. She liked the idea of having toys over generations which was not very common in Australia where toys are fast moving consumer goods. However, the thinking of consumers is changing and there is more and more emphasis on the environment. Quality is preferred before quantity. It seemed like the best timing for importing natural and sustainable toys to Australia.
Not everything was so simple, though. The first and probably also the biggest obstacle were certificates for the import of toys. Toys are strictly guarded import articles and even more toys made out of wood. Vojta says, they knew from the beginning that they have chosen possibly the most complicated item for import. Australian offices have not provided them with clear answers so it took them months before they got all the right import documents. Apart from other things, they had to prove the origin of the wood, show pictures of the wood being processed and even test the pallets on which the toys would be transported. Some Czech toy manufacturers balked from the amount of administration, but Vojta stayed motivated and ordered the first 13 cubes of toys.
“I have walked around toy stores and kindergartens myself to find out which toys are more popular than others. I was looking for Czech organisations which could help me and that’s how I met Vojtech Helikar from the CzechTrade office in Sydney. Together we have run a seminar and presentation of Czech toys. Thanks to this I have got an order from a kindergarten, but still no bigger success.”
The first container of toys arrived in February 2016. Amy and Vojta have planned to launch an e-shop in the middle of February, so they had only two weeks to get everything up and running.
“We haven’t sold almost anything in the first months and what we sold was only to our friends and acquaintances. Even on social media, we couldn’t build a solid fan base.”
Even with all this trouble, it didn’t stop Vojta and Amy from trying and working hard. As they almost gave up a breakthrough finally appeared. They have sent toys to one of Australian bloggers before, who had 15 000 followers on Instagram, and she posted a picture of their toys with a short story. As a response, orders were coming in, one after each other. It was the first time they were able to sell toys for 1500 AUD. They saw an opportunity in Instagram and started to focus on it more.
It seems now, that even after all the trouble, HappyGoDucky is doing well. Since January 2017 they have already ordered 4 containers of toys and they are selling in all the states of Australia, where they have 35 stores buying from them regularly. They have also started to expand to New Zealand, where they are selling to 4 stores and fifth is coming soon. They now have around 11 thousand followers on Instagram and are getting around 200 – 300 new ones a week.
HappyGoDucky is currently the exclusive distributor of 7 Czech toy manufacturers in Australia and also cooperates with a few private persons who supply them with handmade toys. Therefore, Australians have the opportunity to buy toys of the brands Kovap, Detoa, Pislik, Miva Vacov, Playful Wood, Ceeda Cavity and Archa Program. HappyGoDucky also started designing their own toys, which are not available anywhere else in the world.
“And our future plans? We would like to import around 4 to 6 containers in the next year and would like to get into at least 20 other shops. We also want to focus more on addressing kindergartens. We also consider hiring our first employee. From the long term view, we would like to get into bigger retail chains as Myer, which is currently not possible due to capacity restrictions, as most of the toys are handmade.”