bada & bou wants to please children and parents alike - © Olivia Herms
The baby and toddler outfitting sector can continue to look forward to a sustained baby boom. An increasing number of start-ups, which bring a fresh breeze with them, are arising in this favourable climate. Kind + Jugend reflects this development with its Start-Up Area . We spoke with the start-up entrepreneur Olivia Herms from bada & bou about her experiences at the trade fair this year.
You want to please the entire family with your play and seating furniture. What inspired you to this, and what values are especially important to you?
I am an industrial designer and worked a long time for the stars of the furniture industry. When I was a mother myself, I was searching for beautiful and durable toys for my children and quickly noticed that toys often only lasted a very limited period of time. As a parent, one is often also very happy to "clear out" the children's room.
I wanted to understand how we as parents could give our children an attentive and sustainable perspective on the things that surround them from the time they are small. It proved difficult to find something that met my expectations for aesthetics, quality and sustainability. I thus decided, as an experienced designer, to take things into my own hands. With "ba", "da" and "bou", it was for me about creating objects that can be used for a long time, and that one thus learns to love and appreciate. I also wanted to create objects that parents would find so attractive that they end up buying it a little bit for themselves as well, and are happy to have them in the living room.
The playmates are manufactured of high quality materials in a small manufactory near Padua (Italy), where I have established a network of highly qualified small operations, which manufacture each animal with a love of detail.
Since when has your company existed and how did the first founding steps go?
I founded bada&bou in November 2018, although I had already started with the idea with first drafts and mock-ups several years ago, when my first daughter began to walk. It was a long process until I decided to invest all of my time, energy and financial resources into this project.
Since then, I have advanced product development with my manufacturers, protected the brand and designs, had prototypes produced, invested in tools and done everything to have my official launch at the Kind + Jugend Start-Up Area in September 2019. The entire setting up of the brand of course also plays an important role, and there are in fact very many themes that one has to tackle simultaneously as a "one woman show".
The playmates are manufactured in a small manufactory near Padua - © Olivia Herms
How do you evaluate the "start-up climate" in the industry? Do you find the first steps in the market to be difficult, or is there valuable support to be had?
I find the start-up climate very inspiring. When one is interested, there are many initiatives, workshops and events at which one can exchange ideas, as well as enrich and support one another. The start-up scene is generally also open and diverse, and one thus usually sees one another as allies and not as competitors.
Kind + Jugend has already been promoting the next generations with the Kids Design Award. This year there was also a start-up area for the first time. What experiences have you had with your participation?
It was a great chance! The brands that were able to present themselves in this area were a colourful mix fromf various countries and areas. All start-ups, irrespective of the product itself, actually face similar themes in the early phase. In this way, one can exchange ideas and support one another effectively. Following the trade fair, one can still go out together and even already look forward to perhaps encountering one another at the next trade fair again. I am in fact in regular contact with some.
How did things go for you following your participation at Kind + Jugend? Were you able to establish helpful contacts?
At my launch at the trade fair, for me it was about getting initial feedback from the trade audience, as my products are very unique, and address several themes, like toys and children's furniture, but also design and lifestyle. The response was fantastic, and I established many contacts, which were also very helpful for me in starting sales. In addition to interested traders, various experts also shared their experiences with me and demonstrated willingness to possibly continue to support me with an exchange of ideas. I am currently in the process of setting up sales. When you have already met many traders personally through a trade fair, it also becomes easier to make contact and initiate subsequent steps. So, things stay exciting!